Compulsory nursery school is a good idea, but not problem-free

In Slovakia, the number of children in pre-school education is much lower than the EU average.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: Ján Krolšák, Sme)

Every 5-year-old must attend kindergarten school. The government agreed to make nursery school compulsory as of September 1, 2020, to make sure that every child will attend pre-school at least one year before they start primary school.

This step will help the children of marginalised Roma communities as well as socially disadvantaged environments.

“We also expect an improvement in international testing results,” said Martina Lubyová, the Education Minister (SNS), as quoted by the press release.

Implementing compulsory pre-school education has proven a good practice abroad, according to Ábel Ravasz, Government Proxy for the Roma Communities (Most-Híd).

“We cannot expect Roma children to manage to keep up with education at school without preparation,” he said, as quoted by the TASR newswire, adding that nursery school continues a family’s attempt to attain purposeful and systematic education that is often lacking in poor families.

Tens of thousands not accepted

Slovakia has access to European finance that can be used to widen the capacities of nursery schools, he reminded. Implementation of change will require amendment of current legislation.

Nursery schools currently do not have capacity to take all 5-year-old children, according to the data of the Association of Towns and Villages of Slovakia (ZMOS). Today pre-school education is based on a voluntary principle. However, if a parent wants to enroll a 5-year-old, nursery schools are obliged to accept them preferentially.

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