Yerevan schools are dilapidated, but a big renovation grant from European donors for 150 Armenia kindergartens will make them more energy efficient—and safer for the children

Falling plaster, peeling paint, cracked walls, chipped facades, draughty windows, leaky roofs, faulty heating systems. The list of problems goes on and on for Armenian kindergartens, and the children suffer the most.

For four-year-old Lily, this was her everyday life at Kindergarten 36 in Yerevan, Armenia.  “The kindergarten had very poor conditions,” says her mother, Julieta Matevosyan. “It was in Soviet style with dilapidated walls and classrooms. The children ate in the place where they would also sleep.”

The decaying school buildings in the capital of Armenia make life uncomfortable for teachers and support staff. But, it is also dangerous for the youngsters in the classes each day. The damaged school building and severely cracked classroom walls could easily collapse, with unpredictable damages.

“Children’s health and safety is paramount,” says Armine Hayrapetyan, the director of a kindergarten in Yerevan.

Protecting children and cutting emissions

A reconstruction project that ran from 2017 until 2020 has rehabilitated nearly 150 kindergartens in Yerevan to make them energy efficient and resilient to possible seismic activity and big temperature swings from summer to winter. Dangerous cracks were fixed and walls reinforced, insulation were added to roofs, new heaters were installed as well as LED lighting and solar energy systems, and the interiors got new plaster and new paint.

“Now, the kindergarten is colourful, beautiful, and comfortable,” says Julieta. Daughter Lily “goes to kindergarten with pleasure, she is not in a hurry to go home.”

The work was supported by a €5 million grant from the Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environment Partnership. The European Investment Bank helps administer the Partnership, which is funded by the European Union and other donors, such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF), to finance energy projects in Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus. The Partnership shows countries how to save money on energy use, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and protect the environment. 

The Yerevan kindergarten project will also reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 5 502 tonnes annually. The city will lower its yearly energy bill by more than €1 million. The project will make life safer for 34 500 children, teachers, and other staff members.

The renovations empower women in Armenia, too. Nicer schools make parents more comfortable about letting their children go to kindergarten. With the kids in school, women have extra time to pursue their professional goals.  Meanwhile, most of the employees in the Yerevan kindergartens are women.

This story is part of a series, Chance for Change, which shows how our projects improve lives around the world. See more stories here.