Investment in early childhood education – the safest investment in future

©UNICEF Serbia2017Shubuckl

Belgrade, 22 May 2017 – Preschool education must be of high quality and accessible to children of all socio-economic backgrounds and in all geographic areas regardless of the level of their development, concluded today international conference on “ Key dimensions of the quality development in early childhood education - the Preschool Curriculum Framework”.

A number of research have shown that investing in early childhood education has multiple benefits for a child’s development and for a whole society.

“There is still much to be done for the improvement of preschool education in the Republic of Serbia. The good thing is that today, more than ever, preschool education is in the focus of the Ministry’s and the Government’s work, sais H.E. Mladen Sarcevic, Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development. He explained that intensive activities were in progress for the development of the new Preschool Curriculum Framework and that the process would be finalised by April 2018.

Addressing the conference, UNICEF Representative in Serbia Michel Saint-Lot said: “Early childhood education is a win for everybody”, “Serbia has a long tradition of pre-school education. And yet, it has one of the lowest rates of participation in pre-school education in Europe. Half of the children aged 3 – 5.5 have no access to preschool programmes. And these are the children who need it most, and who would have the highest benefits - poor, rural and Roma children”.

An increase of coverage of children aged 3 to 5.5 with pre-school education and improvement of quality requires systemic interventions on the national and local levels, modernisation of curricula, improvement of the competencies of pre-school teachers and more support for the improvement of quality.

Swiss Agency for Development (SDC) has supported education reform in Serbia for over a decade, investing approximately 12 million Euros.

“Switzerland considers that is of key importance to support a society that integrates all its members from early stages of life. For this, good quality pre-school system and inclusive enrolment are crucial”, said Ursula Läubli, Director of SDC in Serbia.

UNICEF’s early childhood development programmes in Serbia have also been supported by IKEA, regular monthly donors and UNICEF Ambassador Novak Djokovic.

The conference was organised by UNICEF in Serbia, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, Institute for the Improvement of Education, Institute for Education Quality, and CIP-Centre for Interactive Pedagogy.