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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Organisation of centre-based ECEC

Republic of North Macedonia

4.Early childhood education and care

4.2Organisation of centre-based ECEC

Last update: 27 November 2023

4.2. Organisation of centre-based ECEC

Admission requirements and choice of ECEC setting

Parents or guardiansare free to choose an early childhood education and care (ECEC) setting within or outside the municipality where they live. In this respect, the choice of preschool is entirely unrestricted. This often puts pressure on certain preschools, particularly in urban and central areas, where there is high demand and not enough places.

Public preschools enrol and admit children throughout the entire year. For the admission application, parents or guardians are obliged to submit a certificate from a paediatrician regarding their child’s health status. If there are more applicants than available places, admissions are decided by an admission commission that is formed by the preschool institution. The more specific criteria for the admission of children are determined by the governing board (upraven odbor) of the preschool in accordance with the criteria of the municipal council (sovet na opstinata) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy. The mayor of the municipality deals with appeals against the decisions of these commissions. Any further appeals are dealt with by the Minister of Labour and Social Policy.

The admission rules in private preschools are determined by the institution’s own terms.

Group size and child–staff ratios

The Child Protection Law defines the maximum limits on the number of children allowed in each preschool institution. There is, however, evidence that these regulations are not strictly followed, especially in dense urban areas with high demand.

Maximum number of children per class in preschool institutions according to age range


Age range

Maximum number of children

Up to 12 months


12–18 months


18–24 months


2–3 years


3–4 years


4–5 years


Over 5 years


Source: Child Protection Law.

There are no child–teacher ratios to serve as criteria for determining class sizes. The staff delivering ECEC may stay with the same group/class for several years, but, in many cases, this varies and depends on the human capacity available. The minimum qualification level for an ECEC teacher (neguvatel) to work in a nursery with children under the age of 3 years is at least secondary education (International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) level 3), in addition to having a valid caregiver licence. A person acquires a caregiver licence by passing a professional exam. The professional exam is organised and conducted by a licensing commission from the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy. For an ECEC teacher to work with preschool groups with children aged 3 years and over, a minimum qualification of ISCED level 6 (bachelor’s level) in the field of initial teacher training is required.

Annual, weekly and daily organisation

Each preschool’s annual work programme sets out the working hours of that institution.

All preschool institutions are open 5 days a week. Available ECEC programmes include full-day and half-day programmes, offered by both public and private providers. Most children in public preschools attend full-day programmes.

Preschool institutions delivering full-day programmes are open for 9–11 hours per day. Preschool institutions delivering half-day programmes are open for 4–6 hours per day, which can be in the morning, in the afternoon or split between the morning and the afternoon. Both types of programme encompass the care and teaching of children.

The Child Protection Law and the Rulebook on standards and norms for institutions that provide services for children stipulate the following daily schedules by type of provision.

•    All-day stay. Reception of children from 6.00 until 8.15; departure of children by 18.00.

•    Extended stay. Reception of children by 13.30; departure of children by 22.00.

Activities in preschool institutions are carried out in the Macedonian language and using the Cyrillic alphabet. For the children of members of other communities, educational activities in preschools may be carried out in the language of the community in question for a group of children if there is sufficient interest.