Preprimary & Primary Education
According to the Law on Education (1991), the main aim of preprimary education is the stimulation of a child's natural desire to learn about the surrounding world. While the leading role belongs to the family, preschools are expected to contribute to children's moral and physical development, and provide them with access to the Belarusian language, culture, and folk traditions.
Yasli (nursery schools), which constitute the initial stage of preschool education, cater to the needs of infants from six months to three-years-old. Dzetsady (kindergartens) take care of children from three to six years of age and prepare them for entry to primary school. Traditional preschools include half-day (6 hours), full-day (12 hours), and 24-hour facilities. The law prescribes that state organs, enterprises, social organizations, and individuals give material, pedagogical, and psychological support to preschool institutions. In reality, in the 1990s the state financing of preprimary education was reduced, and the financial situation in preschools significantly deteriorated. The number of institutions decreased from 4,988 in 1992 (485,000 children) to 4,500 in 1997 (434,000 children), and this tendency continues.
The innovations of the post-perestroika period (the 1990s) initiated the establishment of preprimary institutions of new types: family-type and boarding-type preschools, facilities with short-term stay, flexible programs, and individual schedules. They are based on the best world experience and take into account the ideas of personality-oriented pedagogy. Vykhavatseli (teachers) for preschools are trained in 15 educational institutions: 3 pedagogical universities, 1 pedagogical institute, 3 colleges, and 8 pedagogical secondary schools situated in Borisov, Gomel, Grodno, Minsk, Mogilev, Brest, Vitebsk, and other cities.
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