Preschool education and care is intended for children from 6 months old until they start with primary education.
It comprises three levels:
- nursery (for children from 6 months to 3 years old),
- kindergarten (for children from 3 years to 5 and a half years old) and
- preschool preparatory programme - nine months long preschool preparatory programme is the first part of compulsory education and accepts children between 5 and a half and 6 and a half years old.
Nursery and kindergarten are optional and subject to parents’ decision.
Preschool preparatory programme (PPP)
PPP is mandatory for all children in Serbia. It lasts at least nine months, 4 hours per day. Children admitted to this programme must not be younger than 5 and a half or older than 6 and a half years of age at the beginning of the school year they are about to attend.
Preschool programme consists of general half-day or whole-day long educational activities and optional specialized programmes, as determined by the interests of children and their parents, ECEC institutional capacities and resources provided by local authorities.
PPP’s function is to provide equal conditions for all children and deepen their social and cognitive experience, which alleviates socio-cultural differences among children and puts them in the same or similar position when they start primary school. In this respect, PPP acts as a link between ECEC and primary education and eases children’s transition from one system to another. PPP is carried out pursuant to the guidelines provided by the Bylaw on Detailed Conditions for the Preparatory Preschool Programme Implementation.
Children with disabilities may attend either regular preschool groups or the so-called development groups, both of which are organized in compliance with the Individual Education and Care Plan, as stated in the Bylaw on the Individual Education Plan Implementation and Evaluation. Additional educational, health or social support may be provided to children with disabilities through relevant organizations, if so is required by their respective ECEC institutions.
Since ECEC in Serbia is a public service, ECEC institutions are founded by the State or by local governments. Private ECEC institutions are also available. ECEC institutions are responsible for providing meals, care, preventive health and social protection services for children.