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Kindergarten comes up short: Capacity up to 3 year olds is 20,000 shy

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The Ministry of Labor has prepared and made available to the public a study showing that the Czech Republic is not doing enough for kindergarten capacity according to EU norms. Pre-school care thus is not available to three in ten girls and boys up to the age of three years old, which parents need. That means 20,000 children. There are various “children’s groups” and “mini care centers” help with capacity but it is not enough. “The underlining decision to put a child in to day-care is if capacity is available. The optimal balance of capacity and choice for parents, exist in about one tenth of the regions in the country” states the analysis.

In 2002 the EU created the “Barcelona Goals” which stated that there should be a spot in school for 90% of children over three years old, and a thurd of children under three years old. For the Czech Republic to fulfill those goals, it would need to increase capacity in kindergarten to 113,000 children under three years old.

According to the analysis, in Prague, 3200 children attend kindergarten. To fulfill the Barcelona Goals, the city would need capacity for 15,100 children. Are this many spots needed? The study did not seek to answer that question.

Another solution is the private children’s groups which are controlled by the private sector. Recently the Minister of Labor Jana Malacova (CSSD) discussed the state subsidizing these groups at 7500 Crowns per child per month. The argument is that the taxes drawn from working mothers would average much higher than the subsidy, thus being profitable to the economy, the state, and the mothers.

Has anyone asked the mothers if they are eager to work and give up their infants to a day care? Your correspondent’s experience is that most mothers in the Czech Republic are very eager to enjoy raising their infant child during the first 3 to 4 years of age.

If that’s the case there may be a lot of empty playrooms in the future.

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