Publication - Research and analysis

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND CARE PROVISION: INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF POLICY, DELIVERY AND FUNDING

Published: 29 Jun 2013
Part of:
Health and social care
ISBN:
9781782564164

This report provides an overview of the current situation regarding early childhood education and care provision in Scotland, England, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Slovenia, France and the Netherlands.

164 page PDF

1.6 MB

164 page PDF

1.6 MB

Contents
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND CARE PROVISION: INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF POLICY, DELIVERY AND FUNDING
7 Country Report: Slovenia[331]

164 page PDF

1.6 MB

7 Country Report: Slovenia[331]

7.1 Key Findings

  • Slovenia has an integrated system of ECEC for children from age one (following the end of statutory maternity leave) to age six (when compulsory schooling begins).
  • Approximately 6% of GDP is intended for the entire system of education, with 0.65% devoted to the preschool system in particular.
  • 81.9% of mothers with a child below the age of six were employed in 2011, compared to 93.3% of fathers.
  • Parental leave is a form of social insurance, paid partly through employer and employee contributions and partly through state financing. It is obligatory to take maternity leave in Slovenia. Fathers are entitled to paternity leave and parents may access family parental leave.
  • ECEC services in Slovenia are predominantly publicly provided. Only 3.1% of children were enrolled in private preschool centres in 2011-2012.
  • Formal ECEC provision is predominantly in preschools and on a full-day basis.
  • Informal care is unusual for children age three to school-start but common for the youngest age cohort: over half of one year olds are cared for by their parents, relatives or in other informal care arrangements; less than one in three of two year olds and one in ten of three year olds are in informal care.
  • Local authorities are responsible for ensuring adequate provision of preschool places, either through direct provision or providing funding to private providers and subsidising the cost to parents. Parents are not guaranteed a place for their children.
  • Access levels meet the EU targets; they are considerably lower for one year olds than for two to five year olds.
  • ECEC is a mixed economy financed by the state and by parents, with parents contributing on average one-third to the costs. For special services, such as out-of-school services or the delivery of the preschool programme in a childminding setting, parents pay full fees.
  • Each preschool class is instructed by a teacher and an assistant. All preschool teachers must have at least three years of higher education in pre-primary education or a four-year university degree in another field with specialisation in pre-primary education.

7.2 Concepts and objectives guiding ECEC development

  • Slovenia has an integrated system of early education and care for children from age one (following the end of statutory maternity leave) to age six (when compulsory schooling begins).

The current ECEC system grew out of three main influences: recognition of the interrelation between care and education, major political change (independence) which stimulated debate about policy reform, and consensus that early childhood services should fall under education.[332]

Prior to independence in 1991, preschool services were intended as a support for working families. In 1993, as part of educational reform, responsibility for preschool services was transferred from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs to the Ministry of Education and Sport (now called the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport) which represented a shift in emphasis from parents' needs to children's rights.[333] The 1996 White Paper on Education drew on comparisons to other countries with integrated systems of ECEC, such as the Nordic countries and New Zealand, and emphasised the role of learning in the development of children of all ages.[334]

7.3 Socio-economic context

Slovenia has been a democratic parliamentary republic since its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 and an EU member since 2004. Slovenia's economic development has been very successful since independence[335] with a GDP per capita at 84% of the EU-27 average. [336]

Slovenia has a population of 2.1 million[337] with about 102 people per square kilometre.[338] The total fertility rate is 1.56.[339] 5.1 births occur for every 1000 women age 15-19[340] and the mean age of mothers at first birth is 28.8.[341] Two thirds (67.3%) of first-born children are born to unmarried mothers[342] and 7% of children live in sole parent households.[343]

Box 7.1: Summary of key population statistics[244]

Total fertility rate: 1.57
Teenage pregnancies: 5.1
Mean age of mothers at first birth: 28.2
Child population: 13.8%
Children in lone parent households: 7%

7.4 Employment patterns

The overall employment rate for 2011 was 68.4% of those age 20-64; the unemployment rate was 8.2% for those age 15-74. The employment rate for men age 20-64 was 71.8% and for women 64.8%.[345]

Part-time work is relatively uncommon for both men and women: 6.7% of employed men work part-time and 10.9% of employed women work part-time.[346]

The vast majority of both men and women work over 40 hours per week (90% of men and 84% of women in 2010).[347]

  • This is also the case for parents: 76.8% of women age 20-49 without children were employed in 2011, compared to 78.6% of men. 81.9% of mothers with a child below the age of six were employed, compared to 93.3% of fathers.[348]

Few parents work part-time. Only 12% of mothers with a child under six years, and 2.5% of similar fathers are employed on a part-time basis.[349]

Box 7.2: Summary of employment statistics

Total employment rate: 68.4%
Total unemployment rate: 8.2%
Women's employment rate: 64.8%
Men's employment rate: 71.8%
Mothers' employment rate: 81.9%
Fathers' employment rate: 93.3%

7.5 Welfare system and social support for families with children

The Slovenian social security system encompasses social insurance, family benefits and the social assistance scheme. Social insurance schemes consist of mandatory pension and invalidity insurance, mandatory health insurance, unemployment insurance and parental protection insurance. These are compulsory for all employed persons and for self-employed persons. The system is financed from social security contributions paid by employees and employers.

Overall government expenditure takes up 49% of GDP in Slovenia.[350] As of 2010, public expenditure on social protection made up almost one quarter of GDP (€8.8 billion or £7.1 billion).[351]

The ratio of income inequality between the top 20% and bottom 20% is 3.5,[352] while the at-risk-of-poverty rate for children is 12.6%.[353] Income tax on the average worker made up 42.4% of labour cost in 2010.[354]

Most social protection expenditure is delivered through cash (€5.8 billion or £4.7 billion) rather than in-kind benefits (€2.8 billion or £2.3 billion).[355]

  • 2.2% of GDP (€.77 billion or £.62 billion) was specifically directed toward families and children.[356]
  • Approximately 6% of GDP is intended for the entire system of education, with 0.65% devoted to the preschool system in particular.[357]

Box 7.3: Summary of public expenditure[358]

Total public expenditure: 49% of GDP
On social protection: almost 25% of GDP
On families and children: 2.2% of GDP
On preschool education: 0.65% of GDP

Family benefits are cash benefits provided at childbirth, for further child raising and special benefits for disabled children. Slovenia has:

  • Parental allowances: a monthly flat-rate benefit of €196.49 (£158) for parents who are not entitled to parental benefits from the parental protection insurance scheme;
  • The Childbirth Grant (pomoč ob rojstvu otroka): a one-time benefit of €280.75 (£225) for the purchase of clothing and other necessities for a newborn whose father or mother is permanently residing in Slovenia;
  • Child Benefit (otroški dodatek): a means-tested benefit paid to help parents provide for the maintenance and education/training of a child; it is only paid to those who earn below the average national wage;
  • Large Family Allowance (dodatek za veliko družino): an annual benefit paid to families with three or more children under the age of 18 (or 26 if they are in full-time education or training); € 393.46 (£316) is paid for a family with three children; €479.83 (£385) for a family with four or more children;
  • Special Childcare Allowance (dodatek za nego otroka, ki potrebuje posebno nego in varstvo): a cash benefit intended to cover part of the increased cost of a family with a child who requires special care; it is usually a monthly allowance of €101.05 (£81), but may be doubled for children with a severe physical or mental disability.[359]

7.6 Leave policies for families with small children[360]

  • Parental leave is a form of social insurance, paid partly through employer and employee contributions and partly through state financing.

Leave policy is the responsibility of the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs.

7.6.1 Structure

Types of parental leave (starševski dopust) in Slovenia are: maternity leave (porodniški dopust), paternity leave (očetovski dopust), parental (childcare) leave (dopust za nego in varstvo otroka) and adopter's leave (posvojiteljski dopust).

Maternity leave lasts 105 days and parental leave 246 days, or 520 days if taken as half-time leave, and 90 days of paternity leave. Each parent is entitled to half of parental leave and it may be transferred between parents upon agreement.[361]

  • It is obligatory to take maternity leave in Slovenia.

The leave consists of four weeks before the birth and eleven weeks following birth. In certain special cases, the father is entitled to maternity leave.

  • Fathers are entitled to 90 calendar days of paternity leave (about 13 weeks).

The first 15 days may only be taken as full-time leave during the child's first six months. The remaining 75 days may be taken as full-time leave up to the child's third birthday.

  • Parents also have 260 calendar days (about 37 weeks) per family parental leave.

Only one parent is generally entitled to take leave (with some exceptions such as in case of multiple births or if a child is in need of special care), and this is usually the mother.

Up to 75 days of parental leave may be taken at any time up to the child's eighth birthday, full-time, part-time, or by individual days. If taken individually, the length of leave is equal to 70% of the eligible calendar days, similar to paternity leave. Parental leave may also be taken as 520 days of half-time leave combined with part-time work; if so, the cash benefit is reduced accordingly.

Parental leave may be extended under various circumstances. For premature births, the leave may be extended in line with the number of days the pregnancy was shortened. If there are multiple births, or if the child is disabled, leave may be extended by 90 days per child. If parents already have two children under eight years, leave is extended by 30 days; 60 days for three children and 90 days for four or more children.

Box 7.4: Summary of leave arrangements

Maternity leave 15 weeks: 4 weeks before birth and 11 weeks after birth; obligatory
Paternity leave 13 weeks; first 15 days may only be taken full-time during the child's first six months
Parental leave 37 weeks per family
Adoption leave 21 weeks for 1-4 year old; 17 weeks for 4-10 year old

7.6.2 Payment and funding

Leave is funded partly from parental leave insurance which forms part of social security insurance; contributions are 0.1% of gross earnings for employees and employers. In 2008, parental leave insurance covered an estimated 11% of leave costs. The remainder is paid from the state budget.

Maternity leave is paid at 100% of average earnings, based on earnings on which parental leave contributions were paid during the previous twelve months. If contributions were paid for less than twelve months, 55% of the minimum wage is taken into account for the missing period. There is no ceiling, and the minimum leave payment is 55% of the minimum wage.

Women not insured at the time the leave starts, but who have been insured for at least twelve months in the three years before maternity leave, receive 55 to 105% of the minimum wage (approximately €420 to €801/£337 to £643 per month), depending on their insured period. This is similarly the case for paternity and parental leave, for the first 15 days.

Prior to the Public Finance Balance Act which was implemented in June 2012, during maternity leave, childcare leave, and the first 15 days of paternity leave, income compensation amounted to 100% of the average monthly gross wage of the entitled person during the twelve months prior to the leave, or the average basis from which the parental leave contributions were paid. The Public Finance Balance Act reduced the payment to 90% for parents earning more than €762 (£612) a month.[362] The Act also lowered the ceiling for these payments from 2.5 times to two times the average wage in Slovenia (approximately €3,865/£3,102 per month).

For the remaining 75 days of paternity leave, the father receives social security contributions based on the minimum wage (approximately €169/£136 per month).

Box 7.5: Summary of payment for leave

Payment
Maternity leave 100% of average earnings
Paternity leave 90% of average earnings for first 15 days; remainder of leave - social security contributions based on minimum wage
Parental leave 90% of average earnings for first 15 days
Adoption leave Same as parental leave

7.6.3 Role of employers

  • In addition to family benefits parents are also entitled to a childcare sick leave: an insured person is entitled to take leave to care for an immediate family member who is ill.

Seven working days may be taken for each episode of illness, 15 working days for a disabled child or a child below the age of seven years. In exceptional circumstances, leave may be extended to 14-30 working days or up to six months in extreme cases. Such leave is paid at 80% of average earnings over the previous year.

  • Parents taking care of a child under three years, or a disabled child under 18 years have the right to work part-time (equal to or longer than half full-time working hours).

Social security contributions based on the minimum wage continue to be paid for the hours not worked. A parent with two children may extend the right to work part-time until the younger child turns six.

Breastfeeding mothers working full-time have a right to at least a one hour break during working time. The Labour Relations Act holds that the right to salary compensation for break time for breastfeeding must be in accordance with the regulations governing parental leave, but the Parental Protection and Family Benefits Act does not regulate this issue.[363]

A parent who leaves the labour market to take care of four or more children is entitled to social security contributions (based on the minimum wage) paid by the state until the youngest child turns ten.

7.6.4 Uptake of leave

As of spring 2010, 75% of fathers took the 15-day paternity leave and 90% of mothers took three months of maternity leave.[364] Research suggests that fathers do not take up the other 75 days due to it being poorly compensated. 21% of paternity leave takers took more than 15 days in 2010.

Nearly all mothers take parental leave and 6.3% fathers took a part of this leave in 2010.

7.7 National framework of ECEC

7.7.1 Governance

Slovenia has a unitary system of provision for all children age one to six, which falls under the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport.

This preschool system is governed by the Preschool Education Institutions Act and the Organisation and Financing of Education Act (adopted in 1996, but since amended).[365]

Legislation implementation and regulation are the responsibility of the Inspectorate of the Republic of Slovenia for Education and Sport which forms part of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport.

Support for teacher training is organised by the Service for Development of Personnel in Education. Programmes are monitored by the National Education Institute, and the Educational Research Institute conducts research on child development. The Association of Preschool Institutions is a network for preschool staff to coordinate and develop the profession.[366]

  • Local authorities (municipalities) are responsible for ensuring adequate provision of preschool places, either through direct provision or providing funding to private providers and subsidising the cost to parents.[367]

Preschools are managed by a head teacher who is appointed by the Preschool Institution Council. The Council includes representatives from preschool staff, the municipality, and parents. There are also parents' councils which organise parents' interests through elected representatives from each preschool class.

7.7.2 Types of services

  • The dominant form of ECEC provision in Slovenia is the public preschool. Full-time services provided by the local municipality are available to all children from ages one to six (when they begin school).

Publicly provided preschools may be organised as independent units or may be attached to primary schools.

  • Preschool centres may also be provided privately and are eligible for public funding, but very few private facilities are in operation.

The preschool programme is usually available for nine hours per day, but centres may operate for longer. For example, some children attend 'additional activities' (similar to after-school services) after the programme is finished while their parents are working. Such services are operated depending on parental interest, and the decision rests with the Preschool and Parent Councils.[368] Some centres are also open on Saturdays or late at night.[369]

  • In certain circumstances children may receive the preschool programme in a childminding setting.

Education-based childminding may be provided where there are insufficient places in a centre. The programme may be organised by public or private preschool institutions and the worker must meet the same qualifications as preschool staff. For children age one to three, they must meet either the requirements of a preschool assistant or a preschool teacher; and for children age three to six they must meet the requirements of a preschool teacher (see section 6.2). In practice very few children use this service (less than 1%), most of whom are below age three.[370]

There is also a special service, referred to as occasional childminding, where preschool teachers or contractors with at least secondary education or five years experience in education may provide ECEC in the child's own home. Parents pay the entirety of this service.[371]

  • In general, however, only childcare but not educational programmes may be provided by childminders.

Under the Preschool Institutions Act (2008) childminders may register under the Ministry of Education and Sport if they meet particular requirements; the Act also instituted minimum standards for unregistered childminders who care for children without a preschool place or whose parents prefer such care. The number of registered childminders has been increasing; in September 2012 there were 177.[372]

Box 7.6: Summary of types of services[373]

Preschool (vrtec)
Independent preschool (samostojni vrtec)
Preschool units attached to basic schools[374] (vrtec pri osnovni šoli)
Education-based childminder (vzgojno-varstvena družina)[375]
Childminder
Occasional childminder (občasno varstvo na domu)
Registered childminder (registriran varuh predšolskih otrok)
Out-of-school services

7.7.3 Public/private mix of provision

  • ECEC services in Slovenia are predominantly publicly provided. Only 3.1% of children were enrolled in private preschool centres in 2011-2012.[376]

In 2011-2012 there were 922 preschools, 95% of which were public.[377] Public preschools are established and financed by municipalities, who may operate an independent centre or one which is attached to a primary school. Since 1991, private preschools have been allowed to operate, either with or without a 'concession' from the municipality. Concessions are only granted if the municipality perceives a need for more preschool education.

With a concession, private preschools are considered to be providing a public service and must have the same curriculum as a public preschool (although some are allowed to implement special pedagogical programmes such as Montessori if they receive a positive recommendation from the Council of Experts of the Republic of Slovenia for General Education).[378]

The number of private preschools has increased - there were 18 in 2006/2007 and 42 in 2011-2012.[379] However, private provision remains underdeveloped due to a tradition of public provision under socialism and continuing prohibitive regulation. Most private centres receive some public funding.[380]

Table 7.1: Number and % of public and private preschools, 2011-12

Public preschool 880 (95%)
Private preschool 42 (5%)
Total 992

Source: Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia (SORS), Kindergartens, Slovenia, school year 2011/12 - final data, 2012.

7.7.4 Financing and costs

  • The ECEC system is funded partly through the municipality budget and partly through parental contributions.
  • In 2009 expenditure on preschool education was 0.71% of GDP (0.56% public expenditure and 0.15% private expenditure). The majority of funding is spent on employee compensation (67.1% in 2009).[381]

Local municipalities are the main funders and providers of preschool services and are responsible for ensuring adequate places for all children. If there are insufficient places, the procedure for municipalities to either provide additional places or grant a concession to a private provider must begin within 30 days of the parent's request. Private providers receive 85% of the per-child funding a municipality allocates to public preschool institutions for salaries and teaching resources.[382]

Parents are entitled to choose which preschool unit attached to a basic school their child attends.[383]

Municipalities determine the level of fees parents pay for public provision through a variety of factors - the cost of the programme (education, care and nutrition costs), national regulations on pricing, and family income in comparison with the national average.[384]

Since 2000, parents are required to pay no more than 80% and no less than 10% of costs, though families with low incomes or who face other disadvantages may be exempt from paying, receive further subsidies, or have priority access to services.[385] Under the Public Finance Balance Act (passed in June 2012), for their second child, parents pay 30% of the childcare cost (determined on the basis of family income and property), while the state pays 70%. The third and any further children who attend preschool simultaneously are exempt from payment.[386]

  • In 2011, the average monthly cost for a preschool (full-day) place for a child age one to two years was €456.80 (£367) and €340.30 (£273) for those age three to six years, the difference in costs due to different child:staff ratios for the two age groups.[387]

The average monthly parental payment for preschool services was €146.40 (£118) and €109.07 (£88) respectively, or about 32% of the total cost. However, this varies across preschools.[388]

The average yearly cost of before-school care is €473 (£380) per pupil, which is provided only for a maximum of two hours per day before class. It is provided to parents free of charge.[389]

The average yearly cost of after-school care, which is only for pupils from 1st-5th grade, is €1125 (£903) per pupil. It is provided to parents free of charge.[390]

  • OECD data from 2008 suggests that a couple who earn the average wage would pay 14% of their household income, after benefits, for ECEC.[391]

For special services, such as out-of-school services or the delivery of the preschool programme in a childminding setting, parents pay full fees.[392]

7.8 Access levels and patterns of use

  • More than 81,000 children, or 77.6% of all preschool age children, attend preschool education. More than 90% of four and five year olds attend preschool, as do the majority of two and three year olds. 42% of one year olds are also enrolled.

Children are registered for public preschool centres on the basis of an application procedure. Although municipalities are supposed to ensure access to preschool education to all children, it is not a guarantee.

Due to an increased birth rate and the introduction of free places for subsequent children, demand has increased substantially and the number of children who have been denied a place has increased since 2000. Recent reforms passed under the Public Finance Balance Act were intended to address these issues.

Children with additional needs or from disadvantaged backgrounds have priority access to preschool education.[393]

Special provisions are also made for ethnic minority children and those who speak other languages (e.g. classes for Roma children may have a more favourable child:staff ratio).[394]

Table 7.2: Preschool enrolment rate by age, 2011-12

1 year 2 years 3 years 4 years 5 years 6 years
and up
Total (%)
42.3 69.1 89.0 91.5 95.8 5.8 77.6

Source: Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia (SORS), Kindergartens, Slovenia, school year 2011/12 - final data, 2012.

The number of children enrolled in preschool has been increasing. Since 2010/2011 the overall number of children enrolled increased by 6.9%, with an increase of 8% for children age three and up and an increase of 4.6% for those under three years.[395]

  • Almost all children (97.7%) enrolled in preschool attend all-day programmes.[396] Full-day programmes are usually between six to nine hours per day.[397]

In 2010, of those children who were enrolled, on average children below three years spent 36.4 hours per week in preschool, while children age three to six years spent 34.9.[398]

  • During the school year 2008/2009 two thirds of school children in primary 1 to 5 attended after school classes.[399]

This number has increased over the last ten years due to trends in parents' longer working hours. In 1997 22% of children attending 1st to 5th grade were included in after-school classes while in 2007 the share was 64.8%. In 2007, 2,007 teachers took care of children in after-school classes.[400]

  • Informal care is unusual for children age three to school-start but common for the youngest age cohort. Over half of one year olds are cared for by their parents, relatives or in other informal care arrangements, whereas less than one in three of two year olds and one in ten of three year olds are in informal care arrangements[401]

7.9 System of quality assurance in ECEC

7.9.1 Inspection, monitoring and quality assurance

  • Regulations have recently been tightened with a view to increasing quality: the maximum number of children per adult has been reduced and minimum qualification requirements have been raised.
  • On average there are 8.2 children per preschool teacher and assistant. The average is 6.3 for those under three and 9.3 for those three to six.[402]

Regulation of ECEC falls under the Preschool Institutions Act. Private centres with a concession must meet the same requirements and follow the same curriculum as the public centres.

Special pedagogical preschools (e.g. Montessori) do not have to meet the same regulations, other than spatial requirements.

Private centres without concession agreements must meet regulations such as staff and equipment requirements and must receive a positive recommendation from the Council of Experts of the Republic of Slovenia for General Education in order to operate.

Childminders can register under the Ministry of Education and Sport if they meet housing standards, do not have a criminal record, have a preschool qualification or at least secondary education, and care for no more than six children.[403]

  • The National Curriculum for Preschool Education Institutions, adopted in 1999, has also been revised to provide a more individualised approach.[404]

Teachers have autonomy in selecting content/methods from the national curriculum which does not specify knowledge levels/skills that must be acquired at particular developmental stages.

Ongoing evaluation is not formalised: teachers observe children's progress and report to parents orally.[405]

Compliance with regulations is assessed by the Inspectorate of the Republic of Slovenia for Education and Sport, which performs periodic inspections every 5th year, as a rule, as well as when issues arise. Individual preschools are also responsible for quality assessment through self-evaluation.[406]

7.9.2 Workforce qualification

  • Each preschool class is instructed by a teacher and an assistant. Preschools are managed by a head teacher who is appointed by the Preschool Institution Council.

In 2011-2012 there were 10,200 preschool staff: 4,881 teachers and 5,317 assistants. The vast majority are women; about 2% are men.[407]

In response to the increased number of children attending preschool, the overall number of staff has been increasing, including both teaching staff without the relevant education as well as those with tertiary education.[408]

  • All preschool teachers must have at least three years of higher education in pre-primary education or a four-year university degree in another field with specialisation in pre-primary education.[409]

Head teachers must also complete a program of National School for Leadership in Education (over 144 hours of training). Assistants must have a vocational ECEC qualification from a four-year upper secondary education programme.

Large institutions may also include specialised staff (such as psychologists, counsellors) who usually have degrees in relevant subjects.

Table 7.3: Workforce qualifications and training

Pre-service education Qualifications
Preschool Teacher At least 3 years tertiary At least 3 years of higher education in preschool education or 4-year university degree + specialisation in early education
Preschool Assistant At least upper secondary vocational level Secondary vocational 4-year level with preschool qualification or general secondary 4-year level with specialisation in early education
Childminders At least upper secondary vocational level Upper secondary vocational or general level + vocational standard (it includes the following elements: name and code of the vocation, level of difficulty, vocational competences, areas of work, key tasks, knowledge and skills)[410]

Source: Moss & Bennett, 2010.

96% of teaching staff in preschools work full-time; working conditions are determined by national regulations (negotiated by representative trade unions and the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture & Sport).

Although ECEC settings have been integrated with the education system, preschool teachers continue to have a lower level of education and somewhat lower pay compared with school teachers.[411] Preschool teachers earn on average 3.28 times the minimum wage, while primary school teachers earn 3.4 times the minimum wage; assistants earn around twice the minimum wage.[412]

7.10 Historical overview of ECEC policy[413]

1958 General Law on Education placed day care centres under the responsibility of the Secretariat for Family and Social Protection (Slovenian Community of Childcare)

1960s Separate services for under-threes and over-threes began to give way to age-integrated centres

1970s/1980s Expansion in the system of early childhood services

1971 First law on ECEC for age-integrated centres

1975 Vocational training for preschool nurses introduced

1979 Programme for preschool education and care - first national document about working with children across the early childhood period (eight months to seven years)

1980 Law on preschool education and care recognised preschool centres as a part of the overall education system

1981 Pre-primary education in the year before compulsory schooling (then set at age seven) became compulsory

1980s Preschools established and financed by municipalities, who received funding from the Community for Education and the Community of Childcare

1980 Law on preschool education and care passed - introduced obligatory year of school preparation for children age six to seven years

1981 Educational Basic School Preparatory Programme for Preschool Children

1984 Programme of higher education introduced for preschool teachers

1990 Colloquium -Preschool care and education in the system of a wider social care for the child - decision to continue integration of preschool services given ongoing process of development from infancy to school-age

1992 Overall ECEC placed under the Ministry of Education and Sport; inspection of services (previously a local responsibility) transferred to Inspectorate of Education and Sport

1996 White Paper on Education; Kindergarten/Preschool Act - educational reform changes compulsory school age from 7 to 6 and requires preschools to be available to all children, responsibility of municipalities to ensure provision; Regulations on Payments of the Parents for the Preschool Programmes introduced means-tested parental fee scale

1999 Introduction of national ECEC curriculum

2008 Preschool Institutions Act - introduced parental payment exemptions for enrolment of more than one child

7.11 Conclusion

Slovenia has a universal and integrated framework for the provision of early education and care, with full-day mostly public provision of services for all children age one to school age.

The employment rates of mothers are very high in Slovenia and this - combined with trends of longer working days, increased birth rates, and free ECEC provision for subsequent children - has led to a substantial increase in demand in recent years and bottlenecks in supply.

Increased strain on the supply of public preschool has led to debate about reforms. There is demand for state investment in building new preschool institutions or increasing capacity in existing institutions.

Increased public expenditure (including the use of EU structural funds) is also on the agenda in order to assist municipalities with increased provision of places.

There is also some debate about unifying the payment system across municipalities as well as diversifying programmes by offering alternative curricula and/or shorter programmes.[414]


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