Five-year old Catalina Măndrile likes coming to school. “When we finish an activity, we draw before going to lunch,” she explained. “I like it here: we sleep, eat, play and make puzzles.”
The local kindergarten could be the busiest place in Pănăşeşti in central Moldova, where about 170 three to seven year olds attend school.
Viorica Istraţi runs the kindergarten. She said her village of about 3,500 residents will survive and prosper, as long as her kindergarten is filled with the laughter of the children.
“We are proud of our kindergarten – it’s the nicest place in the community. And it’s not only a building – but also an environment where children feel free and can develop their creative potential,” said Istraţi.
Reforming early childhood education
Until recently, the kindergarten was closed with broken windows and doors, without electricity and water. For ten years, like many kindergartens in Moldova, it was shut down entirely. With support from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the three-decade old building has been repaired, giving students a warm, welcoming place to spend their days.
The Pănăşeşti kindergarten was one of 50 in Moldova to receive a portion of GPE grants, administered by the World Bank. The current GPE grant of $4.4 million (2012-2014) addresses the needs of more kindergartens, especially in disadvantaged communities.
The government of Moldova is focusing on preschool education, since it is key for child development. Early childhood education (ECE) can promote equity among poor and vulnerable people by providing educational opportunities early in life. This can lead to greater mobility in later years. Preschools are expanding across the country due to national policies and regulations in support of ECE, scaling good practices, and building strong partnerships with communities.
A long-lasting impact
GPE-funded education projects have been central to successfully reforming early childhood education across Moldova. The benefits reach far beyond preschool, helping to strengthen the entire education system, build capacity and coordination, and promote social and economic equity.
As part of the improvements to Moldova’s school system, the grant is helping to raise the quality of early learning through teacher training and by distributing quality teaching and learning materials to all preschools.
As a result:
- About 10,000 children have benefited from preschool services in over 50 renovated kindergartens.
- About 37% of the country’s other preschools received books and other teaching materials.
- Enrollment in preschool has increased from 69% in 2006 to 76% in 2011.
- Since joining the Global Partnership in 2005, Moldova has also increased education spending as a share of the GDP by almost 54%.
Effective early childhood education is an important tool for creating a skilled workforce and for enhancing Moldova’s competitiveness in today’s world. Moldova is a regional leader in modernizing early childhood development and providing equitable access to education, and has become an international case study in good practice. More importantly, Moldova’s youngest citizens are now enjoying the kind of transformational early education that will help them thrive as adults.
Read the full article about early childhood education in Moldova.