The two organizations, and their representatives, presented the program’s philosophy, while also making a brief assessment of the program’s hitherto progress in Greek schools.
In recent years, the educational program “Chess in Schools” has been implemented successfully by the Kasparov Chess Foundation, in various countries around the world. It is based on the fact that learning chess at an early age has been proven to significantly improve children’s cognitive and behavioral skills while contributing to the formation of a complete personality, by enhancing critical and strategic thinking. Furthermore, children who become familiar with the logic of chess, boost their confidence, develop greater communication skills and learn about fair play and equality through a platform that unites them.
In this context, the “Chess in Schools” program began as a pilot program in Greece in 2013, when the Kasparov Chess Foundation Europe, in collaboration with the Association of Thessaloniki Chess Players and the support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, implemented the program in 20 public schools in Thessaloniki, with the participation of 500 first and second grade, elementary school students. The primary results of this first, pilot phase were particularly encouraging, which resulted to the program’s continuation during the 2014-2015 school year and its extension to 170 more public schools throughout Greece, with the consent of the Ministry of Education. The selection of schools was made by the Association of Thessaloniki Chess Players, and concerned mainly schools in disadvantaged areas, where chess learning is expected to offer young students great opportunities for their future development.
Between 2013 and 2015, a total of 300 classes out of 190 schools from all over Greece, participated in the educational program “Chess in Schools”, while approximately 6,000 students had the opportunity to learn about and benefit from the recreational and educational nature of chess.
The program’s implementation includes an hour of chess training per week, whether by a team of external trainers visiting schools on a weekly basis, or by the school teachers who know chess and undertake the training of students, under the guidance of the Association of Thessaloniki Chess Players and the help of translated educational material provided by the Kasparov Chess Foundation.
Mr. Andreas Dracopoulos, co-President of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, stated: “Greece’s new generation and the search for effective ways to support it, are always in the spotlight of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. “Chess in Schools” is an educational method with a modern and innovative pedagogical approach, that opens new horizons for students in the country, offering them opportunities for future growth. The Kasparov Chess Foundation’s long experience on the issue of approaching chess and the unique expertise of the Association of Thessaloniki Chess Players, were deciding factors in the successful implementation of the program, which benefited approximately 6,000 students across Greece.”
Mr. Garry Kasparov, Founder of the Kasparov Chess Foundation, added: “The Kasparov Chess Foundation is delighted to collaborate with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and Chess in Schools here in Greece. Chess has a proven track record of benefits as a dynamic modern education tool. It improves concentration and develops logical, disciplined thinking. It is a model of the type of creative problem solving required in every field in today’s rapidly changing world. Best of all, it’s fun for the kids and easy to teach. As an last bonus, chess is quite inexpensive to implement. With the Stavros Niarchos Foundation’s vision and support, and KCF’s expertise, our cooperation shows that Greece refuses to fall behind in meeting 21st-century educational challenges.”
Mr. Giannis Antoniadis, President of the Association of Thessaloniki Chess Players, mentioned: «Our common goal, and the reason why we teach children chess, is not so that they may become professional athletes. Of course some of them, who possess the necessary abilities, may indeed become pro chess players. But, our main goal is to teach children to think, to plan ahead and to strategize, to learn how to problem solve. And the best way to do that is through play. Children learn while playing chess».