Meet our second partner school: the Gymnasium of Astypalaia – a small secondary school on the Greek island of Astypalaia. The schools teaches students aged between 13-18 years old and put creativity at the heart of everything they do. They strongly believe that students should learn by doing, as well as following a more traditional academic curriculum. Their main objective is to have a more attractive and engaging school.
As one of the two island schools in the Island Schools consortium, the Gymnasium of Astypalaia will be a test-case and an ambassador representing fellow island schools across Europe. They also bring broad experience of working on sustainability to the project – their previous project was the “Fish Forward Project” together with the WWF. It was an EU-co-funded project with an aim to promote more ecological, social, and economic sustainability in fishing, fish farming, and seafood consumption.
Pupils from Astypalaia and from De Jutter in the Netherlands, the other partner school in the project, will get the chance to visit each other during two learning weeks, planned for 2022 and 2023. Pupils will also work with university researchers and other experts to come up with policy recommendations for the future of their islands and schools. They’ll have the chance to present these on a European level in the project’s final conference in 2023.
Astypalaia itself is a picturesque island located in the Aegean Sea and belongs to the Dodecanese island group. The coastline of Astypalaia is rocky with coves and beaches. A small strip of land divides the island into two parts. There are several small islands in the southeast and west of Astypalaia. The island attracts tourist mainly because of its unique butterfly-like shape and the Cycladic architecture (Cubic whitewashed houses and churches with blue windows, narrow alleys, and wooden balconies). That is why even though the island’s population is only around 1300 people, it attracts about 70,000 tourists every year.
The island has recently hit the news as part of a pilot project with the car manufacturer Volkswagen. The island will be a test site for new technologies, after the company made a deal with the Greek government to invest in a pilot electric mobility system. According to Volkswagen, the number of vehicles here is around 1500 – more than the population. Volkswagen is set to equip Astypalaia with electric vehicles, renewable power generation and services such as vehicle sharing.