Greece to found new school for construction and preservation of iconic Kaiki boats

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The Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports has announced the implementation of a comprehensive and sustainable plan for the preservation of the wooden shipbuilding art behind traditional Greek boats known as Kaiki.

The Vocational Training and Apprenticeship Program in Carpentry was revealed during a teleconference held by Greek Minister of Culture and Sports, Lina Mendoni, along with Professor Andreas Papasalouros, the President of the Department of Mathematics at the University of the Aegean, Dr Costas Damianidis, a researcher of the history of carpentry, and Willy Fotopoulou, the Head of the Directorate of Modern Cultural Heritage of Greece.

“The organised apprenticeship structure will contribute to the preservation and promotion of the art of carpentry, to the creation of new jobs, specialised staff, to the social and economic development of local communities,” Ms Mendoni said during the teleconference. 

“The rescue of woodworking art and tradition and its rebirth in a modernising context is directly intertwined with the cultural identity of a naval nation, such as Greece.”

Carpentry, as a “living” traditional art, has been practiced for centuries in Greece. Guided by its preservation, the Ministry of Culture and Sports included the art form in the National Index of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2013. 

But one of the factors that seriously threatens the art of carpentry is the European Union’s policy of offering Greek fishermen compensation if they give up their fishing boats and licenses, in an attempt to reduce overfishing.

In the last 25 years alone, about 11,000 boats have been lost, many of which were monuments of popular traditional shipbuilding. 

Photo: K. Damianidis, Samos, 1990.

How will the new education program work?

The new Apprenticeship and Vocational Training program will operate based on the framework recently established by the Ministry of Education, alongside the post-secondary educational model, in collaboration with the University of the Aegean’s School of Sciences, based on the island of Samos.

The Department of Mathematics, headed by its President Professor Andreas Papasalouros, will undertake the design and editing of the necessary educational manuals, as well as the preparation of the new curriculum.

The Faculty of Sciences of the University of the Aegean already participates scientifically in the project due to the creation and development of the Museum of Shipbuilding and Maritime Arts of the Aegean, in Ireo, Samos. 

“The first application of the study program can be done in the boat maintenance laboratory of the Museum, as provided by the museological study approved by the Museum Council of the Ministry of Culture,” a statement reads.

“In several countries in Europe, but also in Turkey and Qatar, there are Carpentry Schools with excellent results.”

At the same time, the Greek Culture Minister is also forming an inter-ministerial working group with other relevant ministries such as Finance, Education and National Defence, to plan a further coordinated response to the preservation and revival of the carpentry art.

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