Early Childhood Development Situational Analysis

Early Childhood Development Situational Analysis

According to the 2014 Eurydice Network Report, the attendance rate -in early childhood education programs within EU-affiliated countries- is very high. On average, the participation rate of 3-year-old children in preprimary education is 82%, the participation rate of 4-year-old children in educational programs is 91%, and the rate for 5-years-olds reaches 95% -all part of the EU 2020 Strategy goals.

In contrast to the EU average, the results from the most recent MICS5 study (The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey on the Situation of Women and Children in Serbia) show that barely 50 percent of children, aged 3-5 years, attend an organized early childhood education program. Furthermore, those children who demand –and benefit the most from– learning and developmental opportunities, provided by preschool education, tend to be less involved; i.e. children from families with low socio-economic statuses, Roma children, etc.

As part of the mission to improve the quality of education, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia has identified key barriers for higher attendance in early childhood education programs and through dialogue with all major stakeholders aims to develop potential solutions and recommendations for related policies.

Interviews with preschool directors and group discussions with parents/caretakers of children aged 3-5 –those of whom are excluded from the preschool system– were conducted in 10 selected municipalities throughout Serbia. The obtained findings show the key actors’ opinions on PE importance, external and personal barriers to enrolling their children in PE as well as the ways to overcome such barriers. Their attitudes were used to formulate recommendations for the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of Republic of Serbia as well as the World Bank.