RUSTAVI, Georgia — A headteacher in the Georgian city of Rustavi has found an unusual way to get children's early education off the ground -- by transforming an aeroplane into a kindergarten.
Gari Chapidze bought the old but fully functional Yakovlev Yak-42 from Georgian Airways and refurbished its interior with educational equipment, games and toys but left the cockpit instruments intact so they could be used as play tools.
"The idea was to create a kindergarten where children go with joy," Chapidze, the rector of the Institute of Georgian-Ukrainian Social Relations that runs the kindergarten, told AFP.
"Sometimes kids have difficulties in adapting to kindergarten, to a new environment. We decided to help them by making it fun," he said.
There are around 1,500 buttons in the small Soviet-era plane's cockpit which the kindergarten's 15 children can play with as they imitate real pilots taking off, he said.
"The children come in to the kindergarten with pleasure and cry when they have to go home. They are happy here," he added.
The private play school in the impoverished Georgian industrial city charges parents around $90 (70 euros) per month for each child, more than double what is charged by state-run institutions.
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