In Greece, Early Childhood Education and Care is provided in two types of structures, according to the age of the child and in terms of legal entitlement. ECEC provision for children under age 4 (ISCED 010) includes:
- municipal infant care (vrefikoi stathmoi), infant/child care (vrefonipiakoi stathmoi) and child care centres (paidikoi stathmoi), under the competence of the Ministry of Interior.
- private pre-school education and care settings (profit-or non-profit-making), as well as part-time childcare settings for infants or/and children and integrated care infant/child care centres, under the competence of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
ECEC for children aged 4-5 (ISCED 020) includes:
- Pre-schools (nipiagogeia), public and private, under the competence of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs.
The ISCED 010 municipal settings operate according to the “Standard Regulation of Operation for Municipal Infant/Child Care and Child Care Centres” (Joint Ministerial Decision 41087/29-11-2017, as amended by Min.Decision Δ11/οικ.26396/920/2020).
According to this Regulation, these centres (ISCED 010) are premises of care and safe accommodation for preschool-aged children. In particular:
- Infant care and infant/child care centres accommodate infants aged 2 months, subject to certain conditions, up to the age of 4.
- Child care centres accommodate children aged 2.5 years up to the age of 4.
The aim of infant care, infant/child care and child care centres is to:
- Offer comprehensive preschool care, following the most up-to-date scientific developments
- Support children in developing physically, mentally, emotionally and socially in a holistic manner
- Eliminate any discrepancies arising from families’ cultural, economic and educational level
- Raise parents’ awareness in modern pedagogy and psychology issues
- Help pre-school children in their smooth transition from family to school environment and
- Offer daily nutrition and care to children adhering to health and safety rules.
There are no educational guidelines for ECEC settings for children under the age of 4.
The Municipal authorities are responsible for the establishment and operation of municipal and private infant care, infant/child care and child care centres (Law 3463/2006).
The operation of private settings is mainly supervised by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs as described in Joint Ministerial Decision 41087/29-11-2017 Ministerial Decision No.D11/oik.26396/920/2020). Pre-school education in nipiagogeio (ISCED 020) is part of primary education as it is regulated by the same legislation (Law 1566/1985) and is therefore presented in detail in Chapter 5. Compulsory attendance starts at age 4. Compulsory pre-school education in Greece has recently become a two- year period, starting at the age of 4 years in pre-school establishments (Law 4521/2018).
Since school year 2020-21, the provision of two-year compulsory pre-school education is effective at national level (Law 4704/2020).
Pre-school education in public nipiagogeia is free of charge.