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SKOPJE, 14 February 2014:  Mr. Dime Spasov, Minister of Labour and Social Policy and Dr. Bertrand Desmoulins, UNICEF representative today signed a new two year joint programme of cooperation to continue efforts to increase access and improve the quality of pre-school services.

The 2014-2015 programme builds on a long-term cooperation between the Ministry and UNICEF to reform the system, so that all children, particularly those from the most marginalised communities, have equal opportunities to quality early childhood development. 

According to Mr. Spasov, the newly adopted the Law on Child Protection was a major milestone for the reform, opening new opportunities - diversified models - to expand the network of pre-school services.  

“In the past, only municipalities were able to establish kindergartens.  The new law now provides a legal framework for the private sector, non-government organisations, and individuals to establish services,” said Mr Spasov. 

The reforms are producing tangible results for children.  In 2011 compared to 2005, twice as many children 3-5 years of age were accessing early learning programmes - from 11% in 2005 to 22% in 2011.  The most recent numbers indicate that access in 2013 has increased further to 34%.  

 Through the long-term cooperation new Early Learning and Development Standards were introduced and a great deal invested in training kindergarten teachers to improve quality of services.

“New evidence shows that children attending early childhood development centers and kindergartens that are implementing the Early Learning and Development Standards have better child development outcomes that those children attending traditional kindergartens or not attending any form of pre-school,” said Dr Bertrand Desmoulins, UNICEF Representative. 

Despite the progress, both the Ministry and UNICEF recognise that much more is needed to ensure all children enjoy their right to the best start in life.   UNICEF will continue to support to the Ministry led efforts to develop a new funding model, implement licensing, establish electronic record keeping system and improve monitoring and evaluation. The focus will be on developing and introducing models and programmes for inclusion of Roma children, children with disabilities, and mainstreaming multiculturalism in early learning and development.

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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