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Future investments in early childhood education is key for the best start in life for every child, UNICEF says
TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN, 13 June 2013 – UNICEF gathered representatives of the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Public Education, Women’s Committee of Uzbekistan, Institute for Social Research and other national partners to discuss results of a comprehensive situation analysis on the state’s policy on financing early childhood education. Conducted in Namangan, Khorezm and Surkhandarya provinces of Uzbekistan earlier this year, the study provided a thorough analysis of bottlenecks affecting access of children to quality preschool education and offered recommendations on how to overcome existing challenges.
According to the Ministry of Public Education as of 1 January 2011, about 5,958 public preschool institutions were operating nationwide covering 463,100 children. This shows a 6% or 28,000 children decrease in coverage since 2006. Today, only about 20% of all children of preschool age are covered by preschool education with average 35% in urban and 12% in rural areas.
“Recent studies, including the one we discuss today, evidenced a number of factors triggering the decline of preschool coverage,” – says Jean-Michel Delmotte, UNICEF Representative in Uzbekistan. “We use today’s forum as an occasion to remind everybody that preschool education is one of the key elements for providing the best start in life for each child aged 2 to 7 years old. UNICEF is committed to continue its work with the Government of Uzbekistan to develop and implement comprehensive programmes to address early childhood education from the legal and policy framework, to promoting positive social change which underpin early childhood development.” – Mr. Delmotte concluded.
Roundtable participants discussed ways of how to enhance the existing preschool financing policy through piloting advanced costing modules in selected preschools and suggested to review international best practices for alternative forms of early childhood education. These measures are expected to considerably expand access of children of Uzbekistan, especially those from most vulnerable population groups, to early childhood development opportunities in the next years.