Ministry of Education has decided to gradually introduce the compulsory pre-school programme for children under the age of five and a half where necessary.
Since this will lead to overcrowding in nurseries, the relevant trade unions have asked the authorities to first resolve that problem before introducing mandatory nursery attendance.
The compulsory pre-school programme for children under the age of 5 and a half will be introduced gradually if relevant conditions have been met – the Politika daily reports citing sources from the Ministry of Education.
Also, Minister Mladen Sarcevic’s announcement that children over the age of three will attend the compulsory and free pre-school preparation programme has caused resentment among trade union representatives who claim that the problem of overcrowding in nurseries has not yet been solved.
They pointed out that the number of children enrolled beyond the norm in nursery schools had increased from 11,000 to 40,000 to 60,000 and made it clear that money intended to solve the overcrowding problem should in no way be used for other purposes.
The Ministry reported that the national development goals in Serbia predicted that, by 2010, 70% of children three years and older should attend nursery and that 72.35% of children currently already attend it.
Since nurseries taking in more children requires an improvement in services provided by local administrations, as well as more money for nurseries, the Ministry sees the construction of new nurseries and the renovation of the existing ones as a solution.
The Ministry also states that the project, which has been implemented together with the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, will create close to 17,000 new places for children aged three to five and a half in recently renovated or upgraded facilities in at least 30 cities and municipalities.
Another EU pre-accession funds project will provide professional assistance to nursery teachers in 50 municipalities. The Ministry underlines that the increase in the number of children from the age of five and a half who will go to nursery was planned under the action plan for the implementation of the education development strategy in Serbia by 2020 while the new UN development agenda stipulates that, by the end of 2030, all girls and boys will have access to a quality school curriculum.
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