Supporting Early Childhood Development in Moldova
Improving the access, quality, and inclusiveness of preschool education
April 15, 2014
Moldovan authorities have made considerable efforts to improve children’s access to early education and development. From 2000 to 2010, the number of kindergartens increased by 22 percent, serving a total of 130,000 children. Similarly, the gross enrollment rate in preschool education rose from 66 percent in 2004 to 77 percent in 2010. However, official statistics showed that there were still about 200 localities with access issues; of those, 55 had no preschool services and 145 had at least half of their preschool-aged children out of school. At the same time, the gap between gross enrollment rates in urban areas (95 percent) and rural areas (67 percent) was significant.
When we finish an activity, before going to lunch, we draw. I like it here: we sleep, eat, play and make puzzles. The educator teaches us things that we, being small, don't know.
Under the ongoing GPE grant, the World Bank continues to support the Government’s efforts to expand ECD coverage and address equity issues, including for children with special needs and others who are vulnerable. At the same time, focus has been placed on enhancing the quality of preschool services. Efforts are also being made to promote the adoption of national policies and legislation supporting an expanded delivery of preschool education, a system-wide professional development/mentoring program for preschool teachers, the provision of modern teaching and learning materials, and the use of an instrument to measure children’s readiness to enter first grade.
The current closing date of the grant is October 2014, but important sectoral targets have already been exceeded since it was launched in March 2009:
- The current gross rate of enrollment in preschool education is 82 percent compared to the 77 percent in 2010; the gross rate of enrollment in preschool education in rural areas is 71 percent compared to 67 percent in 2010.
- Over 1,100 additional children have gained access to preschool services through enrollment in rehabilitated and endowed facilities in 25 localities. Additional kindergartens will be completed in summer/autumn 2014, further increasing access.
- Revised legislation and norms promoting inclusive education have been promoted.
- All preschool teachers (covering 950 institutions) have received key teaching materials: 130 mentoring centers have been endowed, and 260 mentors and 40 inspectors have been trained on selected modules with the aim of further mentoring about 8,400 teachers.
Bank Group Contribution
As a result of the 2008–09 global economic and financial crisis, the Government of Moldova was facing larger macro-economic challenges that pushed the preschool education agenda off the list of top priorities within a broader education sector strategy that included funds for required investments in physical infrastructure. A series of GPE grants (previously known as EFA-FTI) helped fill this financial gap. The US$13.2 million in grant funds has not only helped to close the financial gap for this activity, but more importantly, it has accelerated by two years Moldova’s achievement of its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 2015 target for the preschool gross enrollment ratio (78 percent).
The GPE grant is implemented by the Ministry of Education. The Bank, as grant administrator and supervising entity, and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), as lead GPE donor agency in Moldova, are providing technical support through joint implementation support missions and participation in a Project Advisory Group. The GPE grant and donors (particularly UNICEF and the World Bank) provide parallel and coordinated financing to certain parts of the government’s education strategy; regular donor meetings are held to monitor grant implementation, coordinate country program interventions, and review CSED implementation.
The sustainability of the GPE grant depends to a large extent on the Ministry of Education and local authority ownership. Specific measures have been built into its design to ensure sustainability. In particular, while roughly 35 percent of project funds are allocated to civil works and endowments of kindergartens with furniture/equipment, the project’s maintenance is the responsibility of local authorities. The interventions have a community-driven development approach with a minimum community contribution of 15 percent of the total cost of renovations. Activities such as the innovative mentoring program, a nationwide kindergarten-based teacher training activity, are expected to become part of the system through institutionalization and through stipulations in new legislation currently subject to approval (the Education Code).
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