The creator of the educational organisation that put private education in a high development trajectory in Greece, talks about her journey from a class with six students to 25,000 students that the Metropolitan - AKMI group numbers today, looks back at the difficulties which didn’t bend her and shares her philosophy around education, which is not only about the transfer of knowledge...
The woman who changed private education in Greece
By Christina Katsantoni
Translated by Alexandros Theodoropoulos
Education is what Kalliopi Rodopoulou has loved since her childhood. Even from the time she was still an elementary school student she used to go up to the desk pretending to be the teacher in front of her classmates. And while other kids were dreaming of becoming singers or astronauts, she was dreaming about education. No wonder for the woman, who started from a nursing school with six students, went on to create an educational group which today counts half a century of history, more than 180 curricula and more than 25,000 students.
As the managing director of the largest private educational organisation in Greece, the Metropolitan - Akmi Group, Kalliopi Rodopoulou has a variety of responsibilities on a daily basis and she’s clear about her priorities.
She considers herself an educator and not an entrepreneur and clarifies that the first thing that always interests her is the educational process. Of course, she is also involved in business with the group, but she has never left the field of education, precisely because that’s what she loves. And as her life course proves, when you do what you love, there is no room for failure.
The first steps
Kalliopi Rodopoulou was born and raised in Athens, as a lively child and a mediocre student who didn’t want to study, but wanted to sit at the front desk and watch the teacher. After graduating from school, she decided to study psychology through which she approached the field of education that she had always dreamed of.
Her first job was at the Aidonopoulou schools, where she started helping the weakest students. That project was really successful, consolidating the perspective that had already been rooted in her and has been following her all along since then: there is no bad student, there is only bad teacher.
Developing vocational training
At the age of 23, in defiance of mistrust and negative predictions which she faced as a young woman, she decided to open a pioneering kindergarten, which operated 24 hours a day. The lack of staff that she was called to deal with at the time, since nursery education studies had just been established in technical universities, led her to the decision to open an in-house school.
So it began the involvement of Kalliopi Rodopoulou with education, which was due to change the history of private education in Greece, starting in a class with six students, which by the next year had become 20, then 80, 400 and today they exceed 25,000…
Schools of health professions were later added to the first school and when in 1993, the IEK were instituted by the Ministry of Education, other educational programs (which today reach 107 specialties) followed, always depending on the needs of the market and guided by the perception that a society needs not only doctors or lawyers, but also people in between.
When the need for University studies arose, the group entered into agreements with British Universities and today offers over 70 Bachelor programs in six different cities in Greece. And the goals along with her dreams for implementation of even higher educational programs continue...
In this journey, Kalliopi Rodopoulou has had her husband and her three sons at her side, to whom she instilled her love for working in the field of education and the feeling that Metropolitan and Akmi are a family like being her fourth and fifth child, as she says.
In all these years, her philosophy of education hasn’t changed. The big challenge is and will always be the last student and not the first and the approach of indifferent or "weak" students in order to achieve the maximum results according to their potential.
As for the big bet which continues to motivate her, it’s not only about the transfer of knowledge but the formation of ethics and professionalism, guided by the firm belief that through education we can change people and therefore change our lives, speaking for a better world with the right professionals and happy people...