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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Early childhood education and care


4.Early childhood education and care

Last update: 27 November 2023

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) is provided by kindergartens and other legal entities that have established educational programmes for children aged 6 months to primary school age (under the age of 7 years) in accordance with the provisions of the Act on Preschool Education and Care. A kindergarten is an institution providing organised forms of institutional education and care for preschool-aged children. All children are obliged to participate in a pre-primary programme for 1 year prior to starting school at the age of 6 years.

In addition to kindergarten, children can also participate in other pre-primary and preschool programmes provided in other legally recognised institutions: primary schools and playgroups in libraries and other health, social, cultural and sports organisations. There are various types of programmes and they are usually of short duration.

ECEC delivered in kindergartens and other legal entities falls under the overall responsibility of the Ministry of Science and Education.

ECEC is divided into three educational cycles, based on the children’s ages:

  • children aged 6 months to 1 year;
  • children aged 1–3 years;
  • children aged 3 years to the start of primary education (under the age of 7 years).

Provision for children under the age of 3 years is classified as International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) level 010 and provision for children aged 3 years and over is classified as ISCED level 020.

ECEC is provided in accordance with the National Curriculum for Early Childhood and Preschool Education and Care.

In general, educational activities in kindergartens are performed in the Croatian language and Latin script, whereas ECEC for children belonging to national minorities is provided in accordance with the act and regulations governing the rights of national minorities.

A kindergarten can be established by the authorities of the Republic of Croatia, local and regional self-government units, religious communities and other legal and natural persons

A small number of children attend home-based provision, which falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Labour and Pension System, Family and Social Policy.