In Slovakia, early childhood education and care for children (ECEC) under 3 years old (0–3 years) is provided in nurseries (detské jasle, officially called zariadenia starostlivosti o deti do troch rokov veku dieťaťa. Young children may also be cared for by childminders (opatrovateľ detí). This provision is governed by the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic.
Between the ages of 3 years and 6 years, children attend institutions called kindergartens (International Standard Classification of Education level 020). If the kindergarten’s capacity allows, 2-year-old children can also be admitted.
Kindergartens combine care with education, and the educational process naturally entails upbringing in the widest sense of the word.
Education provided in kindergartens is driven by the school educational programme (školský vzdelávací program) that each kindergarten has to draw up.
The educational programme of the kindergarten must be prepared in accordance with the state educational programme for pre-primary education.
Kindergartens are professionally and methodologically managed by the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic, which publishes all adopted documents, guidelines and information on its website.
Founders of kindergartens are mostly municipalities and cities (public kindergartens), natural or other legal persons (private kindergartens) and state-recognised churches or religious societies (church kindergartens).
In recent years, the overall proportion of children attending education has been gradually growing, particularly for children in the year before compulsory school attendance. The proportion of children participating in pre-primary education in kindergartens 1 year before their compulsory school attendance is currently more than 94 %.
In 2015 and 2016, the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic allocated funds to increasing kindergarten capacities. Since 2017, kindergarten capacities have been increased using EU resources through the Integrated operational programme under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Slovak Republic as well as through the Operational human resources programme under the Ministry of Interior of the Slovak Republic.