The opposition Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party plans to introduce compulsory pre-school attendance for children older than 4 years of age as part of the so-called Roma Reform, the TASR newswire reported on April 26.
MPs Lucia Nicholsonová and Martin Poliačik told a press conference that, according to their proposal, parents who fail to register their four-year-old children in pre-school would have their social and parental benefits taken away or paid via a special intermediary.
Nicholsonová said that while 79 percent of four-year-old children were placed in nursery schools in 2008, the figure has since dropped to 73 percent.
“This is not a good trend,” the MP said, as quoted by TASR, adding that, for example, the ratio reaches 90 percent in the neighbouring Czech Republic and 100 percent in France.
The low ratio of pre-school attendance in Slovakia is largely due to socially challenged communities, where only a tiny percentage of children attend pre-school, Nicholsonová stressed.
“Data of the World Bank has revealed that children from socially excluded communities who attended pre-school facilities were later able to complete secondary education,” she added, criticising government proxy for the Roma communities Peter Pollák for not presenting any specific legislation proposal related to the Roma reform so far.
Pollák responded that when Nicholsonová served as a state secretary at the Labour Ministry, “the universal solution to Roma issues was, according to her, the introduction of e-pay cards and during her tenure she did not consider the education of Roma a priority”, TASR wrote on April 28.
“MP Nicholsonová had, as a main authority of the problems of Roma communities, a chance to introduce laws during two years, on which I [have been] cooperating with the ministries since the beginning of the year,” Pollák told TASR, adding that she proposed no laws that pertained to Roma.
Pollák also said that the proof of his active approach to the issue of Roma education is not only the implementation of the project focused on pre-school preparation of children and cooperation between parents and schools, but also an appeal which allows the interested subjects to receive money for construction and reconstruction of pre-schools.
Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
29. Apr 2013 at 14:00