The new national standards for preschool education in Georgia – how they work in practice
The new law on Early and Preschool Education and Care, adopted in 2016, introduced responsibilities of national government on adoption of mandatory national standards for preschool education in Georgia.
UNICEF representative in Georgia Dr. Ghassan Khalil and Estonian Ambassador to Georgia, H.E. Kai Kaarelson visited #34 public kindergarten in Batumi.
New preschool # 34 in Batumi opened a year ago and enrolls more than 250 children. Despite the lack of systemic trainings for the workforce, the preschool team attempts to implement national preschool standards in practice, including the focus on outdoor play, which is an important component embedded in the Preschool education standards.
The new law on Early and Preschool Education and Care, adopted in 2016, introduced responsibilities of national government on adoption of mandatory national standards for preschool education in Georgia. Four sets of standards have been adopted in 2017: (1) Professional standards for preschool educators, (2) Early and preschool education standards; (3) Preschool WASH standards, (4) Nutrition standards for preschools. UNICEF supported the government in developing standards, including the Preschool Infrastructure Standards, yet to be adopted by the Government of Georgia.
Outdoor spaces in preschools should encourage children to communicate and play with each other. Spaces should be adequate to the number of children, to ensure free movement, physical activity and reduce the risks of conflict among children.
Outdoor spaces are not just for physical activity. The new standards and curriculum encourage the use of outdoors for different activities, free play and games: reading books, drawing, dancing, sculpting or simply having a quiet chat with a friend- are all important opportunities for children to develop their cognitive and social-emotional skills.
The new standards are based on child-centered pedagogy, where children are encouraged to take initiative and make choices. Educators are taking a role of facilitator, who scaffolds children’s learning, rather than someone who directs the whole educational process.
The new standards on WASH and nutrition set strict guidelines for handling and processing food in preschools. In the kitchen of school # 34 these guidelines are put to practice by the specially trained cooks in well-equipped preschool kitchens.
Nutrition standards set specific guidelines for ensuring healthy and balanced diet for children. According to the law nutrition in public preschools is free of charge for every child attending preschools institution. Education as well as nutrition in Preschool #34 in Batumi is fully funded by the Batumi City self-government.
The quality of the kitchen equipment plays an important role for providing healthy meals for children.
The new standards encourage child-centered practices that consider children’s interests, voice and take individualized approaches to engaging children in the small group activities where children explore, play and connect with each other more effectively. However, when the guests come to visit preschool #34, whole group welcoming cheers are still a way to go.