Forslag til rådsrekommandasjon om førskoleundervisning og barnepassordninger av høy kvalitet
Proposal for a Council Recommendation on High Quality Early Childhood Education and Care Systems
Dansk departementsnotat offentliggjort 25.6.2018
BAKGRUNN (fra kommisjonsforslaget, engelsk utgave)
Reasons for and objectives of the proposal
The early years in human life are the most formative for developing the foundational competences and learning dispositions that influence greatly later education and employment prospects and wider life achievements and satisfaction.
The European Pillar of Social Rights states that children should have the right to affordable early childhood education and care of good quality. It continues by saying that children from disadvantaged backgrounds should have the right to specific measures to enhance equal opportunities.
In its Communication on Strengthening European identity through education and culture , the Commission describes the vision of a European Education Area in which high quality, inclusive education, training and research are not hampered by borders and people can benefit from the rich educational offer in the Union. High-quality early childhood education and care is a part of this vision as it lays the foundation for further learningand formation of identity and citizenship.
High quality services play a decisive role in improving education outcomes, including the development of social competences. Research indicates that participation in high quality early childhood education and care leads to higher basic skills attainment and is a strong prevention measure to early school leaving. PISA, the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment, also shows that students who attended pre-primary education for more than one year scored higher in maths at age 15. Students who had not attended pre-primary education have three times greater chances of being low performers than those who attended it for more than one year.
Inclusive early childhood education and care significantly contributes to addressing inequality and social exclusion. Without high quality early education, a developmental and competences gap develops early between children with different socio-economic backgrounds, therefore, reinforcing the cycle of intergenerational transmission of disadvantage. Early childhood education and care experiences are an opportunity to prevent and mitigate disadvantage for children from disadvantaged Roma communities and those with migrant backgrounds. Research evidence shows that among children from a comparable migrant background, those who attended early childhood education and care in their host country score better in reading. In addition, high quality early childhood education and care services have positive impacts on labour market participation of parents and clear benefits for achieving more gender equality.
The aim of this proposal for a Council Recommendation is to support Member States in their efforts to improve access to and quality of their early childhood education and care systems, whilst recognising that Member States are primarily responsible in this area. It seeks to establish European shared understanding on what constitutes quality in early childhood education and care. It presents tools and policy examples to support Member States in their ambitions to ensure high quality inclusive systems and services. A recent policy review indicates that countries with a strategic approach to quality progress more than others in developing and improving their early childhood education and care provision. However, only few Member States have a Quality Framework or equivalent policy document in place to govern provision. That is why this proposal presents key elements of a quality framework in early childhood education and care that can inspire Member States in their strategic thinking about these services.
In most EU countries neither the quality nor the number of places meets expectations. Currently, there are more than 32 million children below the age of compulsory education in the EU, but only about 15 million of them attend early childhood education and care. While it is the choice of parents to use services or not, the demand for places across Europe is higher than the supply.
The European benchmark set in the context of the Strategic Framework for cooperation in education and trainingdefined that at least 95 % of children between four years and the age for starting compulsory primary education should participate in early childhood education. This benchmark has almost been reached. The target agreed at the European Council in Barcelona in 2002 (with a view to improve female labour market participation) defined that 33% of children under three and 90% of children between three and the mandatory school age should have access to services. An assessment of these targets is being presented in parallel to this proposal.
The quality of provision is often insufficient and varies greatly within and between countries, between private and public settings, between urban and rural or remote areas, as well as between age groups (0-3 and 3-6).
The consequences of the lack of available and affordable places and low quality of services are far reaching. Limited availability and/or affordability of high quality services is particularly challenging for children who are already starting life at a disadvantage due to a range of factors such as poverty, disability, discrimination or originating from a Roma or migration background. In today's Europe, children growing up in poverty or social exclusion are still less likely than their better-off peers to do well in school, enjoy good health and realise their full potential later in life.
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