Place guarantee to ECEC
There is no legal guarantee to a place in early childhood education and care (ECEC), but the Strategy on Early and Preschool Education (2021-2025) aims to increase participation in ECEC. The network of preschool institutions in Montenegro is composed of 21 public preschool institutions and 30 private preschool institutions. Private preschools exist mainly in larger cities (Podgorica, Budva, Bar, Tivat, Herceg Novi, Kotor, Nikšić and Ulcinj). Every child has an equal right to preschool education.
In the 2019/2020 school year, a total of 23 080 children (47% of whom were girls and 53% of whom were boys) from birth to primary education age attended preschool programmes, in 170 educational institutions and 778 groups. In the 2015/2016 school year, when the implementation of the Strategy on Early and Preschool Education (2016-2020) began, a total of 16 972 children were included in 123 educational institutions and 575 educational groups. Based on these data, it can be concluded that during the implementation of the previous Strategy there was a signiﬁcant increase in the number of children (by 36%), as well as an increase in capacity (the number of educational institutions increased by 38% and the number of educational groups by 35%) and that the upward trend was uniform over this period. The total ECEC coverage of children is around 76% at present, whereas in the 2015/2016 shool year it was around 40%. These data are from the Montenegrin Education Information System.
Equal access to preschool education is granted to every child and access cannot be directly or indirectly limited on the basis of gender; race; skin colour; language; religion; national, ethnic or other background; developmental diﬃculty and disability; social background or other personal feature or circumstance (Law on Preschool Education).
The United Nations Children's Fund and the former Ministry of Education launched a public campaign "Everybody goes to kindergarten" (2015-2016) to promote early childhood education in ﬁve municipalities in the north of the country with the lowest enrolment rates. The campaigns "I will shine in kindergarten" (2019), "Every falcon goes to kindergarten" (2020) were implemented in order to raise public awareness of the importance of preschool education. These campaigns work with children living in remote, rural and hard-to-reach areas to provide education through interactive secvices. Interactive services, established in 17 municipalities, have proven to be a good tool to make preschool education accessible to children from remote settlements, who are less likely to be involved in ECEC. An important advantage of interactive services is their ﬂexibility (i.e. the capacity to adapt to the speciﬁcs of children, families and the conditions in which they live). In addition, in some cases, interactive services have been transformed into new educational units, thus contributing to the expansion of the network of educational institutions.
In order to provide accessible, high-quality, comprehensive, culturally-tailored, inclusive ECEC services for all children in Montenegro, nearly 80% of the total costs of preschool education are provided by the state, whereas the rest is provided from fees paid by parents. Parents are obliged to pay an average of EUR 40 per month for all-day programmes and EUR 20 per month for half-day programmes. A single parent pays 50% of this cost of their child’s stay and meals in an institution, whereas the costs for children without parental care, children whose parents are beneﬁciaries of material family support and children from the most vulnerable groups are covered by a centre for social services on the territory where the child or the parent resides. This applies to public preschool institutions; the fees for private preschool institutions differ. The fees for private preschool institutions are determined by the institutions itself and are based on the costs of salaries and expenses.