- August 13, 2012
Vilnius kindergartens: change for the better?
The authorities of Vilnius, following the spirit of the time, decided to introduce a new system for applying for places in kindergartens – a centralized, online one. No queues, no lists, no need to enroll newborn babies in kindergartens. One application to local government and the problem will be solved. Local authorities promised that Vilnius kindergartens will offer up to 30 percent more places for children in September. However, one could wonder where these places will come from, because no new state kindergarten in Vilnius has been created in the past four years. But the optimists believed that it will be better…
It is difficult to feel positive effects of the new system so far, mostly because for half a year new pupils were accepted by kindergartens themselves, just as it was before. Some parents, who found out about the new system, applied to the government. Quite a stir occurred.
When it comes to the greater number of places available, it seems that the government’s promises were a bit ‘pre-election’. As the reporter of the weekly magazine ‘Veidas’ found out, 400 places were created at the expense of increasing the number of children in already numerous pre-existing groups, or by creating new groups where officials thought it’s possible. In the latest issue of the weekly magazine we can read some explanations given by one of the officials of the local government, Džeraldas Dagys: ‘A lot of rooms in many kindergartens were unreasonably used. Two rooms were given for one group – in one room children were playing, in the other they were sleeping. And that’s where additional groups were created. We allocated 480 thousand litas on it.’
It’s an extremely difficult situation for managers of kindergartens: on the one hand, they have to meet the government’s directive and accept more children; on the other hand, they cannot violate standards laid down by the Centre of Public Health. If it turns out that a group has thirty toddlers instead of twenty, the kindergarten will be fined. Moreover, groups with larger number of children than the standard predict will face elementary problems with additional lockers for clothes and beds to sleep on.
Unfortunately, the web-based system is not so simple either. Last Friday, the information about free places in kindergartens in the capital ought to be published. Because of some officials’ negligence, many upset parents only just managed to get partial information. Logging on to the system and registering a child in selected kindergartens requires patience and breakneck maneuvers (such as logging in through the bank account).
‘It’s a very stressful situation, we don’t know whether there will be any places available or not. It’s ridiculous, the list of places was supposed to be published on Friday. And there’s no list of kindergartens with Polish groups, which used to be on the page before. I’m worried that when this list eventually appears, we will miss it and I won’t have time to apply for a place for my child. There’s no tragedy, because my son has a place booked in old kindergarten, but it’s very important to me to change it for the better, because that old one is more caring that educating, and my child will go to school soon. It’s hard to carry out educational activities with children aged 2 to 5, so I appreciate the efforts of tutors, but… Anyway, I’d prefer my son to go to the kindergarten that could teach him something new. We’re impatiently looking forward to the list of places. My husband checks it out every hour, but it still doesn’t work’, says Magda, mother of Ernest, who will be 5 in September.
Although the local government of Vilnius made a step towards eliminating the queues for kindergartens, increasing the number of places and modernizing the system of applying for places, but it seems that toddlers will go to over-crowded groups and their parents will face additional stress. Unfortunately, creation of new preschool facilities remains just an abstract subject of talks.
Tłumaczenie Ewelina Zarembska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Ewelina Zarembska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.