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With effect from 1 September 2021, pre-primary education is compulsory for any child who reaches the age of 5 years by 31 August in compliance with the Education Act. Children will be admitted to compulsory pre-primary education from the 2021/2022 school year. These children will be given priority in the admissions process.
Children younger than 5 years of age are not legally entitled to a place in a kindergarten.
Parents can choose their preferred kindergarten. Kindergartens can stipulate that, in case of increased demand, they will give priority to children from the municipality or locality in question, children of employed parents, etc.
The proportion of children participating in pre-primary education in kindergartens in the year before their compulsory school attendance had been more than 94 % before the compulsory pre-primary education for the children aged 5 has come into effect. In recent years, the overall proportion of children attending education has been gradually growing, particularly for children in the year before their compulsory school attendance.
In 2015 and 2016, the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sports of the Slovak Republic allocated funds to increase the capacity of kindergartens. Since 2017, the capacities of kindergartens have been increased only from EU resources through the Integrated Operational Program of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Slovak Republic, as well as through the Human Resources Operational Program of the Ministry of the Interior of the Slovak Republic.
Preschool education for children under 3 years of age is provided in nurseries (detské jasle, officially called "childcare facilities for children under three years of age"). Nurseries are organised as a social service to support the reconciliation of family and work life and provide regular child care, nutrition and education. Young children can also stay with babysitters. Parents can choose their preferred nursery, but children living in the local area are usually given priority in the admissions process.
The child’s stay in nursery is charged for in accordance with the applicable general binding regulations (i.e. the payment amount and method for each nursery are determined locally, and prices may vary depending on the location). However, when placing a child in a nursery, parents are entitled to a parental childcare allowance (maximum of EUR 280 per month). Parents who decide to use a nursery may apply to the relevant Labour, social affairs and family care office for a childcare allowance.
Children above the age of 3 years may attend kindergarten. Fees are charged for the first 2 years of pre-primary education in kindergartens (for 3- and 4-year-olds).
For kindergartens founded by a municipality/town, the fee is set by the municipality in a generally binding provision. Neither the minimum nor the maximum amount is determined by law. Founders of private and church kindergartens determine the amount at their own discretion.
Public kindergartens provide full-time education and care for children 1 year before compulsory school attendance free of charge. The fees in private kindergartens for this final year are discounted by the amount of the state contribution.
Payment towards a public kindergarten’s expenses is not required for a child:
- whose parents submit a document to the headteacher that proves the parents receive a material need allowance;
- who has been placed in a centre for children and families based on a court’s decision.
Founders can decide that kindergarten fees do not need to be paid for a child:
- whose kindergarten attendance was interrupted for more than 30 successive calendar days owing to a documented illness or family reasons;
- who did not attend kindergarten during school holidays or because the kindergarten’s operation was interrupted by the founder or other serious reasons (in such cases, the legal guardian will pay only a proportion of the fee).
Meals are provided for children and parents partly reimburse the costs.
The state contributes EUR 1.20 to the cost of the daily meal of each child attending kindergarten in the final year before the start of compulsory school attendance or whose parents receive a material need allowance. Parents’ expenses for children’s meal are thus discounted by this amount.