Early upbringing and education
When children do not have access to kindergarten, we deny them the opportunity to develop their abilities, talents, and skills in the modern way
When children do not have access to kindergarten, we deny them the opportunity to develop their abilities, talents, and skills in the modern way. Research shows that children who go to kindergarten are healthier in the long term, are less likely to have behavioural problems, achieve better results in later education, and any developmental risks are recognised earlier.
According to Eurostat, in Croatia 75 percent of children from four years of age to compulsory schooling go to kindergarten. However, an analysis of the current situation regarding access, conducted by experts from the Faculty of Law in Zagreb, shows extensive regional disparities. In Vukovar-Srijem County, for example, 29 percent of children go to kindergarten, in Brod-Posavina, only one in four girls and boys have the opportunity to attend kindergarten. In Zagreb, on the other hand, 82.8 percent of girls and boys from three to six years of age go to kindergarten.
Whether a child has the chance to go to kindergarten depends on whether the parents are employed, in which part of Croatia they are growing up, and whether the town or municipality in which they live is rich or poor. The challenge is even greater for girls and boys with developmental disabilities or children from families with poorer financial status.
In the last few years, the Republic of Croatia, with the support of the European Union, has made significant investments in the construction and renovation of kindergartens in Croatia because in many municipalities girls and boys simply do not have the opportunity to go. Through concerted, coordinated action, it is possible to reach the EU goal of 95 percent of children attending kindergarten.
A national conference under the title “A Kindergarten for Every Child” organised by UNICEF was attended by decision-makers from state, regional and local authority levels, as well as by domestic and foreign experts engaged in preschool education. The aim of the conference was to encourage discussion on various solutions that might contribute to the goal of enabling children to access preschool education.
The programme “Ready Together”, which UNICEF ran in cooperation with the towns of Sisak and Slavonski Brod and the Public Open University Step by Step, assisted the inclusion of the most vulnerable children from those towns in the programmes of early upbringing and education. It is a programme that brings together caregivers, teachers, parents and local decision-makers in a common goal – for every child to have the opportunity to attend kindergarten.