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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
National reforms in early childhood education and care


14.Ongoing reforms and policy developments

14.1National reforms in early childhood education and care

Last update: 27 November 2023


Supporting the expansion and strategic development of early childhood education and care in Cyprus

In a report published by UNICEF in April 2023, reference is made on the importance that Cyprus is placing in providing affordable high-quality Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC), which is a condition for promoting children’s early development and their subsequent school performance. 

The Ministry of Education, Sport and Youth (MESY), recognizes ECEC as an area that needs improvement and therefore has high policy priority. This is highlighted in the national Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP) adopted in 2021. Through its RRP, Cyprus also aims to enhance the availability of quality care and social development infrastructure for children, and thus address the shortcomings highlighted by the relevant Country Specific Recommendation of the 2019 European semester cycle.

The Cyprus RRP 2021-2026 identifies the main challenges in the area of ECEC as follows:

  • Cyprus relies heavily on informal settings or private institutions and social protection for families and children, as a proportion of GDP. This is comparatively low at 1.3% v EU 2.5% in 2016. 
  • Free childcare is mainly limited only to guaranteed minimum income recipients, who also receive subsidization for private childcare. 
  • The ECEC enrolment gap is higher for children under the age of three: while 97% of children aged 4 to 6 were enrolled in ECEC in 2019 (EU average 95.4%), 20.7% of children under the age of three participated in ECEC, below both the EU average (35.1%) and the Barcelona target (33%). 

Cyprus is committed to ECEC reforms and as such has a strong ECEC focus on their RRP and has requested technical support from the EU through the Technical Support Instrument (TSI) to enhance the quality, affordability, accessibility, and inclusiveness of ECEC for children aged 0-6. The Ministry of Education, Sport and Youth and the Deputy Ministry of Social Welfare (Social Welfare Services) are committed to this project by driving this exciting intervention.


There have been no reforms.


Increase in the age of first enrollment in the pre-primary education

As a result of the Decision of the Ministry Council of January 9, 2018 (Decision No 84.078), the age of children starting pre-primary education has changed in the last few years as follows; in 2020-2021, the age to register in pre-primary education changed from 4 years and 8 months to 4 years and 10 months and starting September 2022, the attendance age of children will be 5 years old.