Skip to main content
European Commission logo
EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice

Republic of North Macedonia

4.Early childhood education and care

4.1 Access

Last update: 27 November 2023
On this page

4.1. Access

Place guarantee to ECEC

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) is not compulsory in North Macedonia and there is no legal guarantee of a place in ECEC. According to the 2018–2025 Comprehensive Strategy for Education Development, the government intends to significantly increase the proportion of children attending preschool and to introduce a compulsory year of pre-primary education (for children aged 5–6 years). The same priorities had previously been stated in the 2017–2020 government programme.

A major challenge in terms of access is that children’s opportunities for attending preschool (detska gradinka) differ according to their socioeconomic status. According to a World Bank report from 2015, ‘virtually no children in the poorest quintile (only 0.3 %) attend pre-primary school, whereas more than half (55.9 %) of the wealthiest children do’. The situation is most worrying for Roma children and children with special needs, of whom only a very small percentage attend preschool education programmes (below 5 %). According to a United Nations Children’s Fund report from 2019, in some municipalities, preschool enrolment in urban areas is more than six times higher than that in rural areas because of insufficient and unevenly distributed infrastructure for ECEC. Of the 80 municipalities in the country, 15 have no ECEC facilities and offer no ECEC provision.


In public preschools, parents or guardians pay fees of approximately EUR 35 per month to cover the costs of meals. Parents or guardians of children who attend preschool for less than the full period of care and education pay no fees. Since March 2018, the government has made preschool services available to children of single parents or guardians free of charge.

Parents or guardians of children attending private preschools pay monthly fees. These fees typically range between EUR 150 and EUR 500 per month, depending on the package and the particular private provider.