Experts discuss a system for early childhood support

26 march 2018

As part of efforts to make preschool education, more accessible to children aged between 2 months and 3 years the Analytical Center in cooperation with the World Bank held an expert meeting titled Improving the Early Childhood System in Russia: Peculiarities, Problems and Prospects.

"The goal of the expert meeting is to develop a general strategy and recommendations for the further development of preschool education, including what kind of support should be available to children aged between 2 months and 3 years," said the Analytical Center expert Inna Karakchieva. A system approach is required to tackle this issue; it's important to focus the efforts not only on the construction of educational facilities and the creation of favorable environment, but also on cooperation with children and parents, the analyst believes.

At the beginning of the meeting, the experts talked about the international experience in developing the preschool education and looking after very young children. Andras Horvai, Director and Permanent Representative of the World Bank in Russia, noted that children attending nursery and daycare facilities generally tend to perform better in school than those who do not receive any preschool training. According to him, preschool education is an important element of teaching kids that deserves a lot of attention.

Tove Mogstad Slinde, Senior Advisor of the Department of Preschool Education and Daycare of the Ministry of Education and Research of Norway, believes that nursery and daycare facilities should be accessible to all children. "To that end, Norway has passed a law on the equality of financing of private and state-run kindergartens. The state currently allocates 2% of the GDP to finance kindergartens. Benefits are also offered to low income families," the specialist says.

In Russia, the preschool education system is developing in stages, according to Natalia Kostuk, representative of the Ministry of Science and Education. Expansion in federal and regional level support measures has brought about some significant changes. "72 federal subjects of Russia have ensured almost 100% accessibility of preschool education for children aged between 3 and 7 years. Now, these regions only have to monitor the updates and content of the educational process, as the optimal conditions and the required amount of resources were provided," the expert says. "As for the reach of preschool education for children in this age group, it's a little lower at 87%. This is a fairly high percentage, especially given the fact that preschool education is voluntary and parents can choose not to put their kids in preschool education in Russia."

 "Children aged between 2 months and 3 years going to kindergarten get education. It is very important as many people believe that at this age kids only get looked after and cared for," noted Tatiana Volosovets, Head of the Institute for the Research of Childhood, Family and Education of the Russian Academy of Education. According to her, it's necessary to develop a fundamental program for the preschool education of children aged between 2 months and 3 years. It is also important to develop the institute of independent assessment of nannies and approve a professional standard for nannies, the expert believes. The document is currently being reviewed by the Ministry of Labor.

Participants in the discussion believe that interdepartmental coordination of all federal executive bodies is a prerequisite condition for the successful development of the early childhood support system. The experts believe it is necessary to create a coordination body in the existing organizational structure of the ministries in charge of education, healthcare and social protection of children and their families.