Legal entitlement to pre-primary education
In May 2023, an amendment to the Education Act was approved, which introduces the legal entitlement to a place in kindergarten (ECEC facility for children 3 years and over). The implementation of the reform will be gradual. From the school year 2024/2025, children aged 4 will be legally entitled to a place in kindergarten. This entitlement will be extended to children aged 3 from the school year 2025/26.
Kindergartens provide pre-primary education on work days and during school instruction time for at least four hours a day. Kindergartens can provide pre-primary education of less than four hours a day to children with health disadvantages upon the parent’s request.
Reform of the counselling system
A reform of the counselling system was introduced as of 1 January 2023. For more information see chapter Reforms in early childhood education and care.
On June 8, 2022, the Government of the Slovak Republic approved a regulation regulating the conditions and functioning of children's groups.
Children's groups are a form of care that is provided in a small group of children in a home environment. The purpose of the draft government regulation is to set legal conditions more freely and thereby simplify access to this type of social service. The possibility of ensuring formalised care for children was thus strengthened during the ongoing emergency situation in connection with the mass influx of foreigners to the territory of Slovakia from Ukraine. It was also possible to continue operating children's groups even after the end of the crisis situation.
Amendment to the Education Act
On January 1, 2022, the amendment to the Education Act No. 415/2021 Coll., which (among other things) regulates:
- Kindergarten contribution is not paid for a child for whom pre-primary education is compulsory only if it is a state kindergarten. Compulsory pre-primary education for children who complete compulsory pre-primary education in non-state - church and private kindergartens has ceased to be free by law.
- Determining the conditions under which the kindergarten contribution can be reduced, increased or waived is within the competence of the founder.
- Kindergarten principals also have the option to grant director's leave.
- The decision to permit the individual education of a child in kindergarten for health reasons can also be granted based on the recommendation of the counselling and prevention facility.
- Other conditions for admitting children to kindergarten are determined by the director of the kindergarten in agreement with the founder.
- A child with a medical disability can complete compulsory pre-primary education for less than four hours a day.
Support for preschool education in the form of a call for proposal
The Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic has published calls for the submission of applications for programmes to support preschool education within the framework of the Recovery and Resilience Plan of the Slovak Republic in 2022:
Call for "Increasing the capacity of kindergartens" (Výzva "Zvýšenie kapacít materských škôl")
The goal of the challenge is to complete the capacity building of kindergartens in which the number of children exceeds the capacity possibilities. The intention is that from September 1, 2025, every child between the ages of three and the beginning of compulsory schooling will be able to participate in pre-primary education.
The amount of funds intended for the call is EUR 70,000,000.00.
Call for Proposal "Assistant educator for kindergartens" ( Výzva „Pomocný vychovávateľ pre materské školy“)
The aim of the call is to support kindergartens and special kindergartens through the employment of an auxiliary educator as a non-pedagogical employee to help provide compulsory pre-primary education to children with medical disabilities and/or children from socially disadvantaged backgrounds.
From the Recovery and Resilience Plan of the Slovak Republic, 283 kindergartens will be supported in 2022 and 2023, which will receive financial resources for 340 educators in the total amount of €5,068,415.
Call for Proposal "Preschoolers II" (Výzva „Predškoláci II“)
The goal of the challenge was to equip the newly created classrooms and temporary spaces intended for the provision of pre-primary education with the necessary interior equipment, teaching aids and didactic toys to develop the overall personality development of children.
As part of this call, a total of 183 kindergartens were supported in the total amount of €1,608,179.
Call for Proposal "Nursery, primary and secondary school health worker"( Výzva „Zdravotnícky pracovník v materskej, v základnej a v strednej škole“)
- The aim of the call is to support kindergartens, primary and secondary schools through the employment of a health worker as a non-pedagogical employee for
- provision of health and nursing care,
- implementation of screening with the aim of early identification of health problems in children and pupils,
- preventive and advisory activities in the area of healthy lifestyle support and disease prevention and other activities.
This is a pilot verification of this position in schools. The funds will be provided for the personal expenses of the healthcare worker in the period from 1 September 2022 to 31 August 2024.
From 1 September 2021 pre-primary education is compulsory for any child who reaches the age of 5 by 31 August
With effect from 1 September 2021, in compliance with the Education Act, pre-primary education is compulsory for any child who reaches the age of 5 years by 31 August preceding the beginning of the school year from which the child will complete compulsory schooling in primary school. These children will have priority in the admission process. Children will be admitted to compulsory pre-primary education from the school year 2021/2022.
Children younger than 5 years of age are not legally entitled to a place in a kindergarten.
The year 2021 is the year of introduction of compulsory pre-primary education into the practice of kindergartens
All children who reach the age of 5 till 31 August, will start compulsory pre-primary education from 1 September, either:
- in kindergartens included in the network of schools and school facilities,
- in a special way abroad (if they will be living with their parents in a country other than their place of residence in the Slovak Republic at that time,
- individual education for health reasons or at the request of parents, or
- in pre-primary education facilities registered by the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic.
The application of compulsory pre-primary education for all children will create a level playing field for all children to be able to succeed subsequently in the provision of primary education in primary schools and subsequently in further education and life in society. The diversification of providers of compulsory pre-primary education will apply the right of every child to high-quality pre-primary education, both in terms of its content and staffing and spatial and material-technical conditions.
Effects of COVID 19 on pre-primary education
The coronavirus pandemic also had a significant impact on the quality of education in 2021.
Due to the pandemic, kindergartens were mostly out of operation according to the decision of the Minister of Education as well as according to the regulations and measures of the Public Health Office.
Depending on the technical possibilities of kindergartens and households, teachers and principals of kindergartens provided distance education, especially for children, who will start compulsory schooling in primary schools from 1 September 2021.
By participating in a number of online seminars and webinars, kindergarten principals were preparing to put compulsory pre-primary education into practice and to fulfil the new competencies associated with it, especially when admitting children to kindergarten.
The State Pedagogical Institute has prepared two methodological materials to help with the smooth introduction of compulsory pre-primary education into work for kindergartens, pre-primary education facilities as well as parents, which will provide individual compulsory pre-primary education for their children:
- Compulsory pre-primary education: The guide on objectives and content offers a good overview of what is to be included in compulsory pre-primary education, whether it takes place in kindergarten or as individual education.
- A child who speaks another language: the possibility of compensatory support in pre-school education is an important methodological support in a situation where a child who does not understand the language spoken in it comes to kindergarten.
The State Pedagogical Institute will continue in the edition of methodological support of pre-primary education and will provide a series of other compensatory programs to schools and also other actors in pre-primary education.
Methodological materials are available online on the website of the Ministry of Education, Science, research and Sports of the Slovak Republic and the National Institute of Education, kindergartens will also receive available publications in print.