Improving Quality and Equity in Preschool Education in Georgia: Key Challenges and Policy Recommendations

Improving Quality and Equity in Preschool Education in Georgia: Key Challenges and Policy Recommendations

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This policy brief is a result of a joint Education Policy Forum initiative by UNICEF, the World Bank, and the International School of Economics at Tbilisi State University (ISET). It is one of a series of four papers taking stock of Georgia’s entire education system: early learning, general schooling, vocational education and training, and lastly, higher education. The purpose of this series is to review what has been achieved so far, identify outstanding challenges, and suggest – based on discussions with stakeholders and a careful analysis of relevant data and incentive structures – what can be done to address existing bottlenecks.

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Delivering on its electoral promise to ensure universal access to early learning and school readiness programs for every Georgian child, as of the 2013/14 school year, the Georgian Dream coalition made public preschool education free for all kids in the 2-5 age group. As a result of this reform and a sizeable investment in infrastructure, Georgia has seen a significant increase in preschool enrollment for children aged 2-5: from 41% in 2011 to 63.7% in 2017 . During the same period, the share of public provision in the total increased given that the quality/price ratio of public kindergartens increased relative to the expensive private alternative.
To provide the legal basis for universal access to early and preschool care and education, and ensure its adherence to the highest quality requirements, on June 8, 2016, the Government of Georgia (GoG) amended the Law on Early and Preschool Care and Education . In October 2017, the GoG approved a number of new National Standards and Technical Regulations, most of which are supposed to come into force by 2020. The law envisions a rigorous procedure – yet to be developed – whereby all new and existing public and private kindergartens in the country will be required to go through an authorization process assessing their ability to meet rigorous standards concerning kindergarten buildings and playgrounds, equipment and educational supplies, hygienic conditions and nutrition, formal qualifications and experience of preschool personnel.
The recently adopted national standards of early and preschool education follow the best global practices in the field. However, given the reality on the ground, they are easier declared than implemented in practice.

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