Social infrastructure in Belarus: overview of current kindergarten situation
Social standards in terms of availability of places for kids in kindergartens are not met in any of the Belarusian regions. In Minsk and Brest oblasts the situation is the best. In other regions the situation varies depending on the demographic and economic circumstances.
The state standard for preschool children’s day care availability (85%) is met and overfulfilled in all regions and in Minsk:
Brest region by 100.6%;
Vitebsk region by 117.0%;
Gomel region by 124.0%;
Grodno region by 108.6%;
Minsk region by 107.5%;
Mogilev region by 109.0%;
Minsk by 103.0%.
However, the mere fulfillment of the standard says nothing about the real situation. In the capital city and in some regional centres kindergartens are out of places, while in some small towns and villages day care places have shortage of children. First of all, such imbalance in pre-school infrastructure was caused by active housing construction during the past 10 years and by migration of population from villages and small towns to larger cities.
There are 4 091 preschool facilities in Belarus today, including 115 departmental and 9 private. All in all, their capacity is more than 451 thousand children, while only about 388 thousand actually go there. In the past year due to the reduced number of preschool children in the country, 22 kindergartens were closed down: 6 in the Mogilev region, 5 in Grodno, 4 in Minsk and Vitebsk regions, 2 in Gomel and one in Brest region.
The Education Code defines the maximum number of children in one group in a kindergarten, i.e. not more than 20 kids per each age group. However in reality the number of children varies.
Shortage of places in day care facilities reflects the real situation with groups’ staffing, as a rule groups are overcrowded by 20 to 40 percent. 505 pre-schools are overcrowded (12.4 percent).
In residential areas with intense housing construction the problem of shortage of places in kindergartens in the neighbourhood is the most pressing. Quite often parents have to choose pre-school facilities that are located within a walking distance or a few bus stops away from their place of residence.