Preschool education is regulated by entity and cantonal laws on preschool education, which are consistent with the framework law on preschool education. At state level, the Ministry of Civil Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina coordinates activities in the field of preschool education. The Agency for Pre-Primary, Primary and Secondary Education is also mandated to coordinate activities in this area.
The agency’s responsibilities include the development and monitoring of the Common Core Curriculum for preschool, primary and secondary general education, and cooperation with domestic education and other authorities, professional institutions in the field of preschool education and other relevant partners of the agency. In addition, the agency participates in the work of international associations in the field of quality assurance of education and establishes cooperation with similar institutions in other countries. Guidelines for the implementation of the Common Core Curriculum based on learning outcomes, as well as other documents produced by this agency, are not binding on the competent education authorities but provide recommendations.
Strategic approaches are defined with the Platform for the Development of Preschool Education in BiH 2017-2022. The following are the principles of preschool education development:
• The principle of the best interest of the child
• The principle of equal rights and non-discrimination
• The principle of democracy and pluralism
• Humanistic development principle
• The principle of participation and partnership
• The principle of intersectorality and multidisciplinarity
• The principle of professional autonomy and responsibility
Through the Strategic Directions for the Development of Preschool Education in Bosnia and Herzegovina, four main tendencies in the education of children in early childhood were determined: individualization in the learning process, constructivism, developmental appropriateness and progressive education.
Areas of learning and development
The regulations of the competent educational authorities for preschool education specify that teaching and learning in preschool education should focus on:
- physical, intellectual and socioemotional development;
- development of speech and communication;
- creativity and creative work of children;
- learning based on experience and interests;
- acquisition of new experiences and broadening of knowledge about yourself and other people in the world, which is necessary for further education and personal development;
- the involvement of children in the community.
All preschool programmes are based on the principles of planning, implementing and evaluating a complete development programme to strengthen children’s learning and development. The following programmes run in addition to comprehensive development programmes:
- specialised development programmes;
- intervention, compensation and rehabilitation programmes;
- programmes for children prior to the transition to primary school.
A programme for strengthening parental knowledge and abilities concerning the upbringing of children also runs in preschool institutions.
According to the laws on preschool education, the general characteristics of most modern preschool programmes are as follows: the humanistic and developmental orientation of the programme is based on the idea of humanism and knowledge of the specific characteristics and principles of child development, as well as of human development in general. It stresses the importance of learning and development according to the child’s nature and intrinsic value, and the maximum development of the child’s individual capabilities. Particular emphasis is placed on the child’s dignity, and nurturing faith in their own competence.
Respect for the child’s needs and behaviours is a starting point for developmentally appropriate activities that take into account the child’s need to understand the world around them and play an active part in it. Transformational–translational approaches underpin the theoretical orientation of programmes. Education, development, and gaining of knowledge and experience are seen as a process of construction and co-construction, which takes place during active learning and exploring through interaction with adults, other children and a variety of materials.The role of educators in the educational process is changing and has envolved from implementing the programme to creating it. Educators become partners in the process of the children’s development, and their development and learning methods are based on the belief that children learn from their own experiences of interacting with adults, peers, materials and ideas.
The role of families/parents is very important in the educational process. It is important that partnerships are established in which parents have the right not only to be informed about the objectives and outcomes of institutional preschool education but also to actively participate in this process.Modern evaluation studies on the effects of institutional preschool education discuss the positive long-term effects of preschool programmes in which parents or guardians play a significant role. Projected evaluation methods are used for the purpose of continuous evaluation of outcomes, in relation to educational goals and tasks, and child development and attainment.
The regulations of the competent educational authorities for preschool education prescribe a basic pedagogical approach. Participatory, cooperative, active and experiential methods and procedures are set out, and the importance of teachers developing a positive attitude towards lifelong learning and skills development is emphasised. Teachers should model and develop empathy, promote cooperative teamwork and respect for diversity, and enable children to live in a democracy and become citizens interested in their surroundings, the country and the world. The ability to encourage acceptance of change in education, cooperation and educational dialogue, and motivation to participate in continuing professional development and career advancement are also important.
Teaching aids for working with children and carrying out the programme include audiovisual resources (CD/radio players, televisions, DVD players, display boards, etc.), resources for artistic expression, and speech and theatrical expression (picture books, spelling books, classic prose and verse, encyclopaedias, books containing images of works by great artists and significant global, historical and cultural monuments, images of living communities, etc.), resources for musical expression and creation (some musical instruments including rattles, percussion, drums, triangles, as well as song clips, etc.), resources for research (discarded and waste materials, microscopes, magnifiers, scales, meters, thermometers, barometers, magnets, etc.) and various other materials.
Assessment is prescribed by the laws governing the competent education authorities. Monitoring of children’s progress in a preschool institution begins by obtaining information from parents in initial meetings. This basic information concerns health, physical development, potential obstacles to development and special talents. During the implementation of the programme, the educator records important information regarding the execution of the programme, the participation of the individual child, potential problems and important remarks regarding improving the child’s work.
At the end of the preschool education programme, the educators give parents their opinion on what the child has achieved and how they have achieved it. Preschool teachers try to help children who are insecure or have special needs, support and encourage children’s creativity and initiative, and enable each student to recognise and develop their physical strength and potential. The teacher, together with the expert team, monitors and evaluates each child's methodical creativity and the application of modern metods in the educational process.
Transition to primary school
In the Federation of B&H and the Brčko District, a short pre-primary programme (maximum of 200 hours) is compulsory for all 5-year-old children who have not previously attended kindergarten. In Republika Srpska, this programme is not legally binding, but it is being implemented.