Support for municipalities to expand pre-school services
SKOPJE, May 15, 2014: The Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and UNICEF initiated a series of workshops as of today for representatives from municipalities throughout the country, to learn about the opportunities introduced with the new Law on Child Protection. The new law now makes it possible for municipalities to establish early childhood development centres as cost effective alternatives to kindergartens.
“Legislative changes can only produce results if applied in practice. To achieve this, it is necessary that all municipalities are well informed about their responsibilities, and the opportunities for finding creative solutions to expand pre-school programmes," said Mrs Darka Petrusevska, State Councillor in the Sector for Child Protection, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.
Up until recently, the only option for municipalities to expand pre-school services was to establish kindergartens. Now municipalities have the legal basis to increase coverage and improve the quality of preschool programs by opening centres for early childhood development.
During the workshops, representatives from municipalities will be introduced to best practices currently being implemented in selected communities and the possibilities for establishing partnership with the private sector, non-government organizations and individuals.
They will also learn about the opportunity to have part of the early childhood development centre set-up costs covered through the UNICEF and Foundation T-Mobile for Macedonian initiative "First 5 are most important".
"Children who attended quality pre-school programmes do better in primary school and have better chances later in their life. This is true for all children, but especially for children from disadvantaged families,” said Mrs Rajae Msefer Berrada, UNICEF Deputy Representative.
The workshops are being rolled out as part of a comprehensive reform to increase the access to quality early childhood development programmes. Led by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy with support from UNICEF, the reform is already producing tangible results for children. In only two years the percentage of children accessing organized early childhood development programmes has increased from 22% in 2011 to 34% in 2013.
For more information contact: Suzie Pappas Capovska, UNICEF Skopje (02) 3231244, 072 236 725 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Irina Ivanovska (02) 3231172, 072 236 722 or email@example.com