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UNICEF and Foundation T–Mobile launch campaign “The first five are the most important”

Dr. Bertrand Desmoulins, UNICEF Representative and Ms. Lea Lipsa, Director of T-Mobile Foundation

Skopje , November 26 2013: United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Foundation T-Mobile for Macedonia today launched the beginning of a campaign "The first five are the most important”.  The campaign aims to promote the importance of early childhood development and to mobilize support to open new early childhood development centers.  

It responds to the need to support parents and caregivers to better understand the development needs of children in the most critical years of life - the first five. 

“With the campaign we aim to help parents learn more about how to better support and nurture their children in the first five years of life, and equally important, demand the same from the others who care for their children – kindergarten teachers, nannies or other members of the family,” said Dr. Bertrand Desmoulins, UNICEF Representative.

The campaign also responds to the need to increase access to pre-school services.  Currently the only access in the country is through state-funded kindergartens and a small number of early childhood development centers opened with UNICEF support.  While access to services has doubled since 2005, currently only 1 in 5 children (22%) aged 3 to 5 access early childhood development services.  

The campaign also aims to mobilize support from multiple stakeholders – local municipalities, private companies, and individuals – to get involved to increase access to quality pre-school.  Earlier this year, as part of the partnership with UNICEF, Foundation T-Mobile for Macedonia pledged to donate $50,000 to open additional early childhood development centers.  The campaign calls municipalities to partner with UNICEF, companies and individuals to donate to further expand the network of services in communities that need them most. 

“While we aim to increase awareness about the importance of early childhood development among parents and caregivers, we want to mobilize all stakeholders to open more ECD centers in communities where there is no kindergarten such as rural and marginalized communities. With this children from vulnerable communities will receive equal opportunities for preschool education which will help them perform better at school and be more successful in life. This is why the campaign aims to underline the importance of early childhood development but also to mobilize financial support to open new ECD centers. It calls on municipalities to partnership with UNICEF, the business community to adopt ECD centers and all citizens to donate to number 143 555 on all mobile operators,”said Ms.  Lea Lipsa, Director of Foundation T -Mobile for Macedonia.  

Currently twenty (20) early childhood development centers have been established through UNICEF programme with the support of local governments.  With the funds donated by Foundation T-Mobile for Macedonia the first five centers will be opened in Jargulica (Radovis), Selce (Tetovo), Desovo (Dolneni), Zleovo (Radovish), and Dolno Lisice (Aerodrom).

The campaign was developed with support from individuals and companies who volunteered and donated their time and services:  Alfa TV; Alsat TV;;; Httpool;; Koha; Kristijan Ristevski; Media Print Macedonia;; MRTV; Nebojsa Gelevski; Nextsense, Publicis; Sitel TV, Telma and 

The campaign is supported by all three mobile operators  T-Mobile, ONE and VIP who issued donation hotlines 070/075/077  143 555

To find out more about the campaign “The first five are the most important” visit  Also follow the campaign on  and to follow the results and other campaign activities.

For more information, please contact:

Suzie Pappas Capovska, Communication Officer, UNICEF Skopje, Tel: +389 2 3231150; E-mail:

Ms. Lea Lipsha, Director of Foundation T-Mobile for Macedonia, E-Mail:,

Additional Information:

The early childhood development centers that will be opened through the initiative build on a model piloted by UNICEF.  Formally recognized in the most recent changes of the child protection law, the centres are a cost-effective alternative to kindergartens.  They best service communities that are unlikely to have a kindergarten, such as rural and marginalized communities.  Children attend an organized learning program for a few hours a day and parents have access to educational programs on how to work with children at home. The programme in the centers is based on national Early Learning and Development Standards (ELDS) developed with UNICEF support.

All of the centers that will be opened through the initiative will be in partnership with local municipal governments that provide the physical space (building) for the centre; employ an educator; and cover the operating costs for running the centre.  All of the funds raised through the initiative will be managed by UNICEF to cover the costs for minor refurbishments and adaptation of the space; equip the centre with furniture, toys and learning materials, and educational equipment; develop material for parents and train educators on how to implement most modern methods of early childhood development.




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