A total of 8,807 children under the age of three started the 2022/23 school year, yesterday Thursday, in the Infant Education schools and centres of Almeria, 478 more than the previous year, in 223 public or private centres adhered to the programme of the Regional Government for the promotion of schooling in the first cycle of Infant Education. The Regional Ministry of Educational Development and Vocational Training has made 33,036 publicly funded places available to families, 186 more than last year.
Infant Education is considered in our Community a stage of an educational nature and not only a welfare stage, of voluntary schooling and organised in two cycles of three years each. In order to facilitate compatibility between work and family life as much as possible, the centres that offer the First Cycle of Infant Education offer their service from Monday to Friday every day of the year, except for the month of August, from 7.30 am to 5.00 pm and, in the case of the playroom service, until 8.00 pm.
In Andalusia, a total of 86,944 children under the age of three start the 2022/23 school year today in Andalusian schools and Early Childhood Education Centres, 3,177 more children than last academic year at this time of year. This was stated by the Regional Minister for Educational Development and Vocational Training, Patricia del Pozo, during her visit to the Amapola Nursery School in Carmona, Seville, who informed that this year the Andalusian Regional Government has invested 390 million euros in this stage.
This year, Andalusia has a network of 2,163 centres for this cycle, including nursery schools owned by the Andalusian Regional Government and public or private centres that are members of the Regional Government’s programme for the promotion of schooling in the first cycle of nursery education. There are 19 more than in the previous academic year.
Speaking to journalists, the Regional Minister stated that an upward trend in enrolments in the first cycle of Infant Education is expected, which, according to the Regional Ministry’s estimates, could reach more than 101,000 during the school year. In this regard, she recalled that the deadline to apply for a place in one of the centres remains open throughout the school year and encouraged families to send their children to school because this is an educational stage and not just a welfare stage, which is fundamental in the development of children.
Patricia del Pozo also referred to the request she has made to the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training for the resources from the European recovery funds earmarked for the promotion of schooling in the first cycle of Pre-school to be used to extend free education for families. In relation to the latter, the Regional Minister stated that it is “nonsense” to create new public places when in Andalusia there is a sufficient supply of more than 124,000 places for children under 3 years of age. Likewise, she reminded that the Regional Government’s commitment is to advance in the complete free 0-3 for all Andalusian families and the indivisibility of the first cycle of infant education, in order to protect the more than 12,000 jobs in the Andalusian network of nursery schools, most of them female.
With regard to subsidies, Patricia del Pozo said that, according to forecasts, some 2,380 more families will benefit from total free education this academic year than in the previous one, which represents an increase of 4.5%. The number of families benefiting from some kind of subsidy will also increase by 1,296 (2.9%). In this sense, the Regional Minister detailed that, according to her department’s calculations, there will be 52,957 children under three years of age with one hundred percent subsidies, which represents 52.43% of the total number of students enrolled, and 44,684 with partial subsidies (44.24%).
Andalusia is among the Autonomous Communities with the highest rate of schooling of these pupils, with approximately 52.14%, a value that far exceeds the recommendations of the European Union and which stands at a coverage rate of over 33%.