Preschool teacher competencies key to quality pre-school education

05 December 2018
Two children in kindergarten working on writing assignments along with their pre-school teacher
UNICEF/2017/Georgiev

SKOPJE, 16 November 2018: The Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Ms. Mila Carovska, Minister of Education and Science, Mr. Arber Ademi, Deputy Ambassador, British Embassy, Mr. Dominic Otway and UNICEF Representative, Mr. Benjamin Perks today opened a strategic workshop to start a systematic process to define pre-school teachers’ competencies.  

The initiative is part of pre-school education system reform designed to increase access to quality pre-school education. Among other things - including increasing the supply of pre-school services - the initiative foresees changes to ensure pre-school teachers’ deliver quality early education and care. 

“This workshop is just another indicator of the strong political will to reorganise the preschool education in Macedonia and to improve its quality. Based on international research the early childhood development is crucial and children who received pre-school education develop better school performances in the educational process. This is why we begin this process to strengthen the competences of teachers and educators in pre-school education. In parallel we are enlarging the capacities of kindergartens because the goal of the government in the next four years is to increase coverage of children attending kindergarten by 50 percent,” said Ms. Mila Carovska Minister of Labour and Social Policy 

Developments in science show that access to quality early childhood development and learning programmes is critical for lifelong learning.  Recognizing this, the Government committed to increase coverage and to improve the quality of preschool education and care, by 50 per cent by 2020. 

“We will work on developing and making available didactic materials; revision of the system for keeping pedagogical records and training of educators for which a training programme has being developed and adopted. In parallel we are working on development and introduction of professional standards and work profiles for educators, teachers, professional workers and heads of pre-school institutions,” said Mr. Arber Ademi, Minister of Education and Science.

This workshop contributes to efforts to accelerate progress towards the European Union target of 95% pre-school coverage, with focus on quality. Defining early childhood teacher competencies is the first step to improving capacities to deliver quality early childhood education. They will serve to assess the current capacities to deliver play-based curriculum, and subsequently, used to prepare training modules to be carried out in all pre-school institutions across the country.

“It is essential that children arrive at school with the right mindset and resources to enable them to get the best out of their education.  A better early childhood education leads to better school performance, and in a generation, increased stability and prosperity,” said Mr. Dominic Otway, Deputy Ambassador, British Embassy.

To date, the country has undertaken some initiatives to improve pedagogical practice of pre-school teachers, but a systematic approach in ensuring continuing professional development is missing. Define a set of competencies for the early care and education, with the goal of assuring that all teachers of young children have the necessary knowledge and skills to meet children’s developmental needs, is a key part of the renewed attention to professional development. 

“Parenting and quality preschool education are perhaps the two single most important factors that influence human flourishment.  Early childhood experiences set the cognitive, emotional and social capability and the personality of the individual for the whole life cycle,” said Mr. Benjamin Perks, UNICEF Representative.

During the workshop, stakeholders from the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, Ministry of Education and Science, World Bank, European Delegation, Bureau for Development of Education, Teacher Training Faculties, municipalities, practitioners from kindergartens and civil society organizations, will work towards establishing a common framework for defining pre-school teachers competencies and professional values, and identifying continued professional development opportunities to support pre-school teachers in attaining the competencies. 

Stakeholders will also engage in an expert discussion on proposed amendments to the Law on Child Protection in the field of professional and career advancement of pre-school staff.

The workshop is being organized as part of a UNICEF supported initiative to improve access to quality inclusive early childhood education and is implemented as part of the project “Foundations for the Future – conflict prevention through social inclusion and diversity” funded by the British Conflict, Security and Stability Fund.

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