"Preschool for All" campaign raises preschool enrolment rates
Early education (Podgorica)
PODGORICA, 28 October, 2015 - Aware of the exceptional importance of preschool education for early childhood development, in spring of 2015, UNICEF and the Ministry of Education launched the campaign "Preschool for All" in five municipalities in the north of Montenegro, where the preschool enrolment rates are the lowest: Bijelo Polje, Berane, Rozaje, Plav and Andrijevica. The aim of the campaign was to raise awareness and increase preschool enrolment rates.
Its first results are promising - almost all parents, 91 percent, assessed the campaign as useful for parents and preschool children to become acquainted with Montenegrin preschools.
According to the preschool managers and teachers in five towns in which the campaign was conducted, its first results were visible even during its implementation.
Rešad Kadrović, director of the preschool in Rozaje, is confident that this campaign will have effects, not only in the short term, but also in the long run.
"This year, there is already a much bigger interest and parents are enrolling children in line with the deadlines," he said.
Director of preschool in Andrijevica, Dobrasin Lalevic, said that many still support old beliefs that kindergarten is only for children who have nobody to take care of them at home or whose parents work.
"However, I hope that, in the last few months, through the campaign activities, we have helped young parents to realize that playing with grandparents is not all that a child needs", Lalevic said.
In the survey conducted before the campaign with the parents of children aged 3-6 who do not attend preschools and live in the north of Montenegro, the majority of parents, over 60 percent of them, said that they were not informed enough about preschools.
However, a comparison of the surveys before and after the campaign shows that parents in the municipalities where the campaign was implemented, expressed much more positive attitudes towards preschool education after the campaign.
UNICEF Communication Officer, Jelena Perovic, pointed out that 85 percent of parents said that this campaign influenced most of the people in their environment to seriously think about enrolling their children in kindergarten.
"What is more significant is the fact that 43 percent of parents said that the campaign encouraged them personally to enroll their children in preschool. Finally, we are satisfied with the fact that the preschool enrollment in the municipalities where the campaign was conducted increased by 3 to 24 percent compared to the previous year," Perovic said.
Within the campaign, the NGO "Pedagogical Center“ and the Department for Preschool Education at the Faculty of Philosophy organized outdoor preschools in five towns. The aim was to promote learning through play, present the benefits of preschool education to children and parents and strengthen the skills of preschool teachers.
Children also enjoyed music, dance and drama performances specially made for the "Preschool for All" campaign and performed by the Art School 'Vasa Pavic' from Podgorica and the Faculty of Drama Arts from Cetinje.
Parents who have heard of the campaign enrolled children in preschool much more often than those who have not heard about it. This difference is present in all municipalities on the north, including the ones where the campaign was not implemented, but parents have heard of it.
For Predrag Boskovic, Minister of Education, raising the overall quality of education is not possible unless it starts from the preschool education.
"We have understood, together with UNICEF, the importance of preschool education, which is why we significantly raised the coverage of children in the last four years. If I tell you that about 13.000 children were enrolled in 2010/2011 and that we have about 16.000 children this year, this fact speaks enough about our efforts despite all the challenges we face," Boskovic pointed out.
Learning from 3 to 6 in a small group, for three hours per day, five days a week, influences positively children’s success during vocational and higher education, and even later in life.
The “Preschool for All” campaign is part of a broader initiative of the Montenegrin educational system, supported by UNICEF and aimed at achieving 100 percent preschool coverage of children aged 3 to 6 until 2020.
All of the evidence tells us that there is no better investment that any society can make than the investment in early childhood education, said Benjamin Perks, UNICEF Representative in Montenegro.
"If we all work together we can really achieve universal access to quality early childhood education in Montenegro within a five-year period. Svi u vrtic! ", Perks concluded.