Although official preschool education in Azerbaijan starts at the age of one, enrolment of children between one and five years old remains as low as 1 in 4, with children in rural areas even less likely to participate in preschool than those in urban areas. Challenges to every child accessing essential early learning include infrastructural barriers, as well as inadequate knowledge amongst parents of the importance of preschool education for their children’s development.
UNICEF is working to increase access to preschool education and equal environment enrolment for every child.
Early childhood education is proven to be a critical building block for a child’s future progress. UNICEF and the Azerbaijan Ministry of Education are working to increase preschool education coverage and reduce equity gaps in enrolment by scaling up a school readiness and community-based early learning programmes that focus on children who are still not being reached by these vital learning initiatives.
Achievements in School Readiness
UNICEF advocated for and supported the development of a National Action Plan for preschool education, which was approved in 2016 and brought school readiness classes to all five-year-old children in Azerbaijan.
Since 2016, more than 4,600 teachers from 61 regions have been trained to deliver the School Readiness Programme, which now covers 95,000 five-year-old children, increasing attendance from 55% to 65% in 2017.
Community-based learning centres for three and four-year-old children have also been piloted in 50 regions and expanded to 50 more centres, now reaching 3,000 children across the country. UNICEF also supports school-readiness through teacher training and the development of learning materials.
The new preschool education curriculum is built around global early learning development standards and the lesson learned from the successful school readiness pilot programmes supported by UNICEF. We have continued to build national capacity, with the Government allocating resources to scale up nationwide training of teachers, while UNICEF-supported efforts to improve availability of preschool enrollment dates will help monitor progress in reducing equity gaps in preschool education.