School buildings are used in the evenings and on weekends for the benefit of the wider community.
USING SCHOOL BUILDINGS FOR THE COMMUNITY
Open Schools is an innovative programme initiated by the Municipality of Athens in 2015. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation funds the programme, which is coordinated by the Athens Partnership, to use school buildings during afternoons and weekends for the benefit of the local community. Open Schools meet the needs of school communities. Through cooperation with the Municipality of Athens, this is done in a coordinated and secure way, taking into account the background operation, supervision, cleanliness, liability, and coverage of operation costs and damages, etc.
FREE KNOWLEDGE-BUILDING AND ENTERTAINMENT
All Open Schools activities are proposed by civil society groups or individuals, who are only selected following an evaluation. These activities are co-organised by the operational body and the Municipality of Athens, giving access to free knowledge-building and entertainment activities for citizens of all ages and creating new neighbourhood hubs, which improves the quality of life for Athenians. As part of this programme, repairs and maintenance were carried out in the classrooms and courtyards of the 25 Open Schools, upgrading the schools and providing a welcoming environment for the public of the city.
MEETING CENTRE FOR THE WHOLE NEIGHBOURHOOD
The success and acceptance of the programme is shown by 36,000 people involved in 550 different activities, carried out by 175 operational bodies, in just 3 years. The programme's most important factor, in terms of sustainability, lies in the fact that afternoon schooling has been integrated into the structure of the Municipality as part of lifelong learning. Open public spaces have not been included in the urban design of Athens, so a safe school environment becomes a free, organised playground and a meeting centre for the whole neighbourhood. There are a wide variety of activities on offer, implemented by the city's institutions, and the programme is enriched throughout the year. The programmes also enable the pursuit of synergies, empowerment of the city's institutions, and the emergence of good practices. The design of the programme allows access to activities for vulnerable groups and has therefore been distinguished by the Council of Europe in the area of human rights and integration of immigrants.
For some people, it is easier to go to schoolyards to experience culture than to go to big institutions such as the opera or museums.