Preschool education is a holistic process aimed at:
ensuring all-round development of preschool children in accordance with their potentials, inclinations, talents, individual, mental and physical features, and cultural needs;
shaping preschool children's moral standards, gaining social experience by them.
This right is granted to all children regardless of race, colour, political, religious, and other beliefs, sex, ethnic and social background, property status, place of residence, language, or other characteristics.
Responsibility for children's preschool education is imposed on their parents, persons replacing them and educational institutions attended by the children.
At the same time, children may receive preschool education at the discretion of their parents or persons replacing them:
Preschool education received in preschool educational institutions regardless of their subordination, types and ownership form must ensure compliance with the requirements of the Basic component of preschool education.
There are various types of preschool educational institutions operating in Ukraine which can meet every child's individual needs as well as special demands of parents. In particular, this refers to children with special needs and the guarantee of parents' right to select a specialized or inclusive preschool educational institution.
Child development centre, which ensures physical, intellectual and psychological development, correction of psychological and physical development, and health improvement of children who attend other educational institutions or are raised at home.
According to data as of May 2017, around 55% of preschoolers attended preschool educational institutions of various types in Ukraine. In absolute figures, the number of such children was about 1,300,000.
The number of preschool educational institutions of all forms of ownership, types and subordination was about 14,900 in May 2017. The largest number of preschool educational institutions (974) is in Dnipropetrovsk Region; this Region is also the leader in terms of the number of children attending them (115,343).
Despite the large number and variety of types of preschool educational institutions, the distribution of places in them for children from different regions is unequal.
According to data as of May 2017, there are some vacant places in preschool educational institutions in some Regions, for instance, in Luhansk Region (90 children per 100 places), Donetsk Region (97 children per 100 places) or Kherson Region (97 children per 100 places). The situation in Cherkasy, Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Kirovohrad and Vinnytsia Regions is relatively balanced (from 100 to 110 children per 100 places).
However, in most regions of Ukraine, there is a certain lack of places in preschool educational institutions. It means that in Ivano-Frankivsk Region (131 children per 100 places), Lviv Region (129 children per 100 places), Poltava Region (127 children per 100 places), Volyn Region (126 children per 100 places), some other Regions as well as in Kyiv (125 children per 100 places) not all parents who wish to send their child to a preschool educational institution can do so immediately after such need or wish appears.
This kind of imbalance and lack of places in preschool educational institutions used to be one of the sources of corruption at various levels within the preschool education system for a long time.
In view of this, the Ministry of Education and Science introduced in all regions and population centres the so called electronic queue, that is, an open and transparent service for enrolling children in preschool educational institutions, which ensures equal opportunities for all children regardless of their parents' capabilities.
The introduction of the electronic queue made it possible to partially resolve the problem. For example, in 2015, the most difficult situation was in Lviv Region, where there were 144 children per 100 places, and in 2017, this figure decreased to 129 children per 100 places. The Ministry of Education and Science also pursues the policy of increasing the responsibility of preschool education workers for attempts to exert financial and psychological pressure on parents.
However, equality of opportunity does not mean that every child will be given a place in a preschool educational institution automatically. The line can still be found in most of the Regions.
According to data as of May 2017, the problem has been resolved completely in Zhytomyr Region only, where there is no child in the line. The situation in Kirovohrad, Sumy, Chernihiv, Luhansk, Ivano-Frankivsk and Donetsk Regions is not bad either; fewer than a thousand children are in the line there. On the contrary, in Odesa Region there are 18,910 children seeking a place in preschool educational institutions, in Kyiv this figure is 11,134, and in Zakarpattia Region – 6,000 children.
That is why the Ministry of Education continues looking for ways to finally resolve the problem related to lack of places in preschool educational institutions taking into account the real possibilities of every region and population centre.
In 2017, a series of regulations were adopted extending the rights and possibilities of private preschool educational institutions and standardizing certain financial relations between their owners and the state. It is expected that in the nearest future these and other changes that have been introduced will have a positive impact on the statistics; moreover, children, their parents, and entrepreneurs who provide educational services will feel more confident and protected by the state.
**All the data are given without taking into account the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the city of Sevastopol and a part of the anti-terrorist operation area.