Early education in Bosnia and Herzegovina is an integral part of the educational system and is classified as International Standard Classification of Education level 0. It is regulated by the laws governing the relevant educational authorities. Early childhood education and care (ECEC) falls under the overall responsibility of 12 responsible ministries of education: one for the entity Republika Srpska, one for each of the 10 cantons in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and one for the Brčko District. Improving the quality of ECEC services directly affects the quality of life and development of children in early childhood.
The ECEC system provides education and care for children from birth to 6-years. Usually, ECEC institutions combine nursery groups for under-3-years olds with kindergarten groups for children from the age of 3 years until their enrolment in primary school. However, some ECEC institutions have groups for older children only.
From the age of 5 years, ECEC is compulsory in the Federation of B&H and the Brčko District and it is free of charge for up to 5 hours per week. Although not compulsory in Republika Srpska, the ECEC programme is also free of charge there. Children who have not previously attended the standard kindergarten programme must enrol in the short preschool programme (maximum 200-hours) in the year before starting primary school. The compulsory ECEC programme may be organised in schools or ECEC institutions. The goals of the programme are focused on the realization of the full potential of each child and the following aspects of development:physical development and health, socio-emotional development of personality, intellectual development and the development of speech, communication skills and creativity.