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Czech Republic Expands Pre-School Education For 3-Year-Olds

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The Czech government recently made an announcement stating that municipalities will be mandated to offer preschool placements for children over the age of three starting next year. These placements can be in either nursery schools or children’s groups located in the place of residence or within the school district. The objective of this initiative is to facilitate the expansion of preschool education, which is considered crucial for children’s development.

According to the new regulations, any child who turns three before the beginning of the school year has the right to attend a preschool program in a local nursery school. The program is available to all children as long as the nursery school has the capacity. For children who cannot be accommodated in nursery schools, municipalities are required to provide preschool education in children’s groups on their premises. These groups are already designed for children starting from six months of age.

Presently, only five-year-old children are obligated to attend preschool education, leaving three-year-olds without a legal entitlement to a placement. Mothers whose parental leave is ending have no alternative but to seek employment or search for a place in a private nursery school, which can cost up to 20,000 CZK per month. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs believes that implementing this legal entitlement will enable parents and employers to better plan for the parents’ return to work. Germany’s introduction of a similar legal right has shown positive effects on fertility rates.

However, municipalities are dissatisfied with this change, arguing that they have limited opportunities to create placements in nursery schools. This is particularly true for municipalities that are unable to expand existing nursery schools with children’s groups.

This regulatory adjustment is part of a broader package of reforms. The existing health regulations will be discarded and replaced with new, less specific provisions intended to promote the expansion of preschool education. These rules, agreed upon by the Ministries of Labor, Health, and Education, will come into effect on October 1.

The new regulations will adopt a flexible approach to ensure public health and safety in preschool education. The emphasis will be on the internal environment of the facilities, with specific limits set for temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide levels. These rules will apply only to new facilities established after the implementation of the new regulations or to those undergoing renovation. Other requirements will be left to the discretion of the founders and operators of the facilities.

Furthermore, the new regulations will address the issue of insufficient capacity in nursery schools. Currently, municipalities lack suitable land on which to construct children’s groups. The new regulations will permit the creation of groups in alternative locations such as public playgrounds.

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