New Early Childhood Development Centre opened in village Zleovo
VILLAGE ZLEOVO, RADOVIS, 18 JUNE 2014: Thanks to the new early childhood development centre opened today, children aged 3 to 6 year old from the village Zleovo in the municipality Radovis are among children directly benefiting from the initiative “the first 5 are the most important”
"Ensuring the proper psycho-physical and socio-emotional development of children should be a priority of every society. The warmth and love we give children, from birth up until their first day at school, is the most important investment we can make," said Mr. Sasko Nikolov, Mayor of Radovis. "That is why we are here in Zleovo together with UNICEF and Foundation T-Mobile for Macedonia, to build a solid foundation for children to develop as strong individuals.”
Up until recently, the only option for municipalities to expand pre-school services was to establish kindergartens. With the new law on child protection, now municipalities have the legal basis to increase coverage and improve the quality of preschool programs by opening centres for early childhood development.
The “first 5 are the most important” initiative provides municipalities with incentives – access to funds to cover the start-up costs and training for staff – to establish centres in communities that need them most.
“ECD centres best serve communities that are unlikely to have or even need a full service, including day care, kindergarten,” said Ms. Rajae Msefer Berrada, UNICEF Deputy Representative. “Many parents, and even grandparents, care of their young children at home and cannot afford to pay the monthly fee for kindergartens.”
Since the enactment of the new law, ECD centres opened, including through this initiative are a low cost option for municipalities and parents. While some centres invite parent to make a minimal donation to cover the cost of materials (crayons, paper, glue, etc), parents do not need to pay for their child to attend the programme.
“The investment needed to ensure all children in Macedonia get equal opportunities to quality early childhood development is not big,” said Ms. Lea Lipsha, President of the Foundation T-Mobile for Macedonia. “We hope the centres opened so far will serve as models for other municipalities and private companies to get involved.”
The centre in Zleovo is the fourth centre opened with funds donated by Foundation T-Mobile for Macedonia. Plans are underway to open centres in Dolno Lisice Aerodrom, and in rural communities in the municipalities who recently joined the initiative - Centar Zupa, Ohrid and Gostivar.
For more information, please contact: Suzie Pappas Capovska, UNICEF Skopje (02) 3231-150 (ext: 127), 072 236 725 or firstname.lastname@example.org