Early childhood education and care (ECEC, preschool education) is part of the education system. It has been within the realm of the ministry responsible for education since 1993.
ECEC is organised as a single system for all children 1–6 years of age and/or until they start basic school (single system of primary and lower secondary education).
From the age of 11 months, children are entitled to a place in a publicly subsidised kindergarten. Preschool education is not compulsory; the decision to enrol their child is made by the parents.
Public kindergartens and private kindergartens provide preschool education (International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) level 0). There is a system of regulated home care (outside the ISCED), as well, but only a small number of preschool children participate in home care.
Municipalities have to support a public network of kindergartens and private kindergartens. The parents and children have to have access to and choice between programmes.
In public kindergartens and private kindergartens with concessions (municipalities can grant a private kindergarten a concession to provide a public service and the same programme as a public kindergartens), the principles, goals, objective and guidelines of the national Kindergarten curriculum apply.
The basic responsibility of kindergartens is to service parents, helping them to provide a comprehensive care for their children, improving the quality of life of families and children, as well as creating conditions for the proper physical and mental development of children.
ECEC complements the dynamics of learning and caring within the family. It provides further opportunities for children to widen their experience and gain knowledge outside the family setting. The employment rate for both parents is high in Slovenia; thus, the primary motive for enrolling children in a kindergarten is to secure care during the hours parents have to work.
In the last 12 years, there has been an increase in the number of children attending kindergarten, from 71,124 (2009/2010) to 85,957 (2021/2022). In the 2021/2022 school year, 83.7 % of all children aged 1–5 years and 94.1 % of all children aged 4–5 years attended kindergarten. The majority (94 %) of these children attended public kindergartens. (Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia, 2022).