CHISINAU, 18 April 2018 – Moldova’s preschool enrolment ratio of about 86.5% is relatively high compared with that of other countries in the region. However, taking into account macroeconomic indicators, it would still take half a decade for Moldova to reach full inclusion of children in preschool education, says a new UNICEF study looking at the quality and governance of early childhood education services at local level.
The importance of early childhood education is widely recognized in Moldova: the country’s ”Education 2020” Strategy sets targets for preschool enrolment in 2020 at 95% for ages 3-6 and 98% for age 6/7.
“It is very important that the entire society works together to give all children equal opportunities to access quality education and quality care services, said Valentin Crudu, the chief of the general education department of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research. The “Education 2020” Strategy demands that early education be accessible to all, child-centered and ensure a successful transition of children to primary school.
Yet not all Moldovan children have the chance to learn since an early age. According to the new study, preschool attendance is significantly lower in rural areas (64%) than in urban areas (82%), with a top position for Chisinau at 90%. The socioeconomic gap is also rather significant: 88% of children living in the richest households attend a preschool, while the figure drops to 50% among children living in the poorest households, where the need for preschool education is the highest. Likewise, children of mothers with higher education have more chances to be enrolled than those of mothers with secondary education. Another vulnerable group are the children who have at least one biological parent living abroad.
Among Roma children the enrolment rate was as low as 21% in 2011. This has serious consequences for their chances in life as demonstrated by the fact that one third of all Roma children show low levels of literacy at age 6. On average only half of the Roma children attend primary and secondary school while for the non-Roma population this figure stands at 90%.
“It is of primary importance to continue the strengthening of the policy and regulatory framework and increase investments in early childhood education services across the country,” said Margarita Tileva, the UNICEF Deputy Country Representative in Moldova. “All efforts should be made to ensure continuous improvement of the coverage, outreach and quality of such services to ensure no child is left behind in early childhood education in Moldova.”
The new study reveals once again that preschool education can be critical for optimal early childhood development. In Moldova, 84% of children aged 3-5 years are developmentally on track, however, better outcomes are seen in children who attend preschool: 86% compared to 78% for those who are not attending.
According to the study, Moldova has every chance to become one of the countries with universal access to preschool education, despite its low average income. As disparities persist, robust action is needed to complete the last step towards the inclusion of all children in early childhood education, especially the disadvantaged children living in rural areas, in low income families and those from ethnic minorities.
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About the study
The study “Analytical Review of Governance, Provision and Quality of Early Childhood Education Services at the Local Level in Countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States/ Country Report for Moldova” was undertaken by a research team from Yale University.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.