Kindergarten queues have reduced over past few years in Latvia

Take note – story published 1 year ago

At the moment, many parents are finding out whether their children have been given a place in the municipal kindergarten in the new school year. The lines are traditionally long. The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development (VARAM) said they have reduced but will persist, Zemgale regional television reported April 10.

Sanita is a mother of two children who pays for a private kindergarten because there are no places in the municipal one.

“I think it's difficult, because I've heard from people and friends that they cannot get in, still waiting in line. Personally, I send both kids to a private kindergarten. I did not want to make my life difficult,” said Sanita, a resident of Jelgava.

Sanita pays €160 per month for private kindergarten. €200 is covered by the municipality. Jelgava has 12 local government pre-school education institutions with 2,000 children. There will soon be another admission round for 400 more children, while there are 900 more children waiting in line.

“We will certainly need another educational institution in order to satisfy the [..] demand,” said Gunta Auza, head of the Jelgava Education Board.

If a child does not get a place in a local government kindergarten, the parent may choose a registered nanny and receive local government co-financing. The amount covered by the local government varies from one place to another.

"At the moment, more than 150 children use such a service. We have over 100 nannies in the register. There are 53 nannies active at the moment,” said Sarmite Joma, deputy head of the Jelgava Education Board in pre-school education matters.

According to the Latvian Association of Local Governments (LPS), the problem of kindergarten lines varies across Latvia. The longest lines are in the vicinity of Rīga, while farther from the capital, there are no lines.

“There are areas where kindergartens are available, but there is a depopulation in those areas. Private kindergartens are increasingly being used and, as I know, projects are also being involved this year, such as a public-private partnership, with a shared ownership,” said LPS senior advisor Māris Pūķis.

According to the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development (VARAM), although birth rates are declining, the queues for municipal kindergartens will remain long, due to the lack of both the actual institutions and staff. Lines are long in 21 Latvian municipalities.

"The ministry has also been offering municipalities the opportunity to borrow funds for the construction of new kindergartens since 2020. Since 2020, the lines have fallen by about 30%. 22 investment projects have been carried out and more than 2,700 spots have been created, "said Ilze Oša, Deputy Secretary of State for Education.

In total, approximately 7,000 children are waiting in line for their kindergarten.

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