Agriculture ministry financing 185 new kindergartens in villages next year

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21.12.2018.

Lecevica, 011217.
Ante Baran, u posjeti djecjem vrticu u Lecevici.
Foto: Ante Cizmic / CROPIX
Ante Cizmic / HANZA MEDIA

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On Friday the Ministry of Agriculture is scheduled to sign contracts for construction of 108 kindergartens worth HRK 703 million [EUR 95 million]. The EU Rural Development Program for Croatia will co-finance it with HRK 591 million. Before that, in the first invitation to tender for the construction of kindergartens under the program, HRK 288 million was allocated for the construction or adaptation of 57 kindergartens.

As we have learned, the interest in co- financing is so extremely high that the enlargement of the financial envelope for the tender has been requested. The Ministry has okayed it, so that approval for another 20 kindergartens is expected.

Conditions for people to remain

-  Our goal is for as many children from small settlements in Croatia as possible to get access to quality pre- school education - Minister of Agriculture Tomislav Tolušić has told us. - The goal is for the children's parents to have the incentive to increase the size of their families and to have the conditions [enabling them] to stay in the rural areas. If we provide the rural areas with [services and facilities] that otherwise attract people to the cities, the people living in a rural area will stay there by choice, rather than necessity.

Tolušić [who is also a Deputy Prime Minister] added that "the available EU funds give us the opportunity to renew and build everything we were unable to in the past, because the municipalities did not have the money for such investments". - These are the investments in the future, in the lives of our children and in the survival of the rural areas in Croatia - he said. - Next year, we expect 185 new functional kindergartens in the Croatian villages.

HRK 500 million of the funds available in 'Operation 7.4.1.' - "Investments in Launching, Improving or Expanding Local Basic Services for Rural Population" - is intended solely for the construction, rebuilding and equipment of kindergartens, while the rest is to be spent on fire brigade centers, sports grounds, road traffic facilities and similar infrastructure that should make the rural areas more desirable places to live and work in.

This is not the first tender for construction of kindergartens. Under the previous tender, last May, HRK 288 million was allocated for the construction of new or modernization of existing kindergartens. It enabled 57 kindergartens in 17 counties to be built, rebuilt and comprehensively equipped: in Otočac, Dvor, Popovača, Voćin, Ozalj, Slunj, Konjščina, Hrvace, Skradin, Drniš, Bistra... all in municipalities that would not have been able to undertake such projects at all with their regular budgets. The construction and rebuilding of kindergartens is carried out in settlements of up to 5.000 people. The financial support is available for 80- 100% of the investment, which depends directly on the classification of municipalities and cities according to the level of development. The finding ranges between EUR 15,000 and 1,000,000 per project.

Depopulation

- It is interesting that the Ministry of Agriculture is implementing the kindergarten construction tender - notes the release from the Ministry itself. - Namely, the Rural Development Program for the 2014- 2020 period is not focused solely on the development of agricultural potentials but, through Measure 7, also opens the possibility of investment into starting, improvement or expansion of services that better the quality of life, in order to make rural areas a desirable place for life and work, to stop depopulation of those areas and stimulate the demographic renewal there. So far, a total of 7 tenders were published under Measure 7, with 432 co- financing contracts signed, worth a total of HRK 1.8 billion.

New infirmaries

Among those signing a contract will be Jasna Matković, the head of the Punitovci municipality near Đakovo. The municipality has already finished work on a road, started building a fire brigade facility and is developing a public park, all financed by the program. - Yes, this will be the first kindergarten in our municipality - says Matković. - We hope its availability will prevent the departure of some young families who are now unable to arrange child care during the working day and plan to move to a city. The kindergarten will be built next to the Health Center and will be able to take in 50 children. It should meet the needs of our 1800 residents.

The municipality of Viljevo, with 2,100 inhabitants, plans to build a kindergarten with the capacity for 45 children, worth HRK 6.5 million. Head of the municipality Dominik Knežević hopes it will be completed in two years. - Of course, we believe that the new kindergarten will be a stimulus for the demographic renewal and help halt the emigration of young families - says Knežević. - We are thankful that the emigration has not hit us very hard so far. Viljevo also plans to start building a local road, a fire brigade center and an infirmary.

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