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First early childhood development centre opened as part of the initiative “First 5 are the most important” in Selce, Tetovo

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

SELCE, TETOVO, 6 Feb 2014:  At a red-ribbon ceremony today, Ms. Teuta Arifi, Mayor of Tetovo, Dr. Bertrand Desmoulins, UNICEF Representative and Ms. Lea Lipsha, President of the Foundation T-Mobile for Macedonia officially opened the first early childhood development centre as part of the initiative “the first 5 are the most important”.  

Based on a cost effective model for delivering pre-school education, the new early childhood development center will serve some 130 three to five year old children from the rural community Selce – children, who up until today did not have any way to access pre-school.

“Children who attended quality pre-school programmes do better in primary school and have better chances later in their life,” said Dr. Bertrand Desmoulins, UNICEF Representative.  “However for many municipalities the only option to offer pre-school programmes was to open a kindergarten, which was not always affordable.”

The recent changes to the child protection law, made diversified services for early childhood development possible. The Selce ECD center is the first to be opened with the 50,000 USD donation of Foundation T-Mobile for Macedonia.  It was opened in partnership with the municipality of Tetovo who converted and put unused space within the local primary school to good use. The municipality also employed an educator and will cover the operating costs for running the centre.

 “Children are our future. Everything will one day be in their hands and that is why we need to give then the right education. Through socializing and play kids develop the skills they need to read, write, think and interact with their peers.  The Municipality Tetovo supported the initiative to open an early childhood development centre, which is one of a series of planned activities to provide the right environment so that children develop intellectually, as individuals, with a healthy attitude towards the world around them,” said the mayor of Tetovo Teuta Arifi.

Donated funds from the Foundation were used to cover the costs for minor refurbishments and adaptation of the space; equip the centre with furniture, toys and learning materials, and train educators on how to implement most modern methods of early childhood development.

"To open more ECD centres throughout Macedonia we need support from the entire society - private companies, local municipalities and individuals.  Individuals can donate 100 denars on the donation number 143 555, from the three mobile operators. I call on the public to support this important initiative, so that all children in Macedonia have equal opportunity for development, regardless of where they come from,” said Ms. Lea Lipsha, President of the Foundation T-Mobile for Macedonia.

In early childhood development centres, such as the one in Selce, 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.  Given they cost less to establish than kindergartens, they best service communities that are unlikely to have a kindergarten, such as rural and marginalized communities.

Twenty one (21) early childhood development centers have now been established through UNICEF programme with the support of local governments.  With the funds donated by Foundation T-Mobile for Macedonia centers will be also be opened in Jargulica (Radovis), Desovo (Dolneni), Zleovo (Radovish), and Dolno Lisice (Aerodrom).

For more information, please contact: Suzie Pappas Capovska, UNICEF Skopje (02) 3231-150 (ext: 127),  072  236 725 or or Irina Ivanovska (02) 3231-150 (ext: 107),  072  236 722 or




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