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Friday 22.02.2019 | Name days: Rigonda, Adrians, Ārija

Almost 1,000 children waiting in queues to kindergartens in Riga

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThere are currently approximately 1,000 children waiting in queues to kindergartens in Riga. Pre-school services are provided in 150 kindergartens, including 71 Latvian, 41 shared Latvian and national minority kindergartens, as well as 38 national minority institutions.

In the period between 2009 and 2017, additional 153 Latvian language groups and 39 Russian language groups have opened in Riga.

Representatives of Riga City Council’s Education, Culture and Sports Department explain that there are free spots available in pre-school education facilities in Imanta, Bolderāja, Vecmīlgrāvis and Pļavnieki.

At the same time, there are territories in Riga, such as Skanste, Teika, Zolitūde, Torņakalns, Ziepniekkalns and the city centre, where demand for kindergarten spots exceeds supply. In nearly 80% of cases queues consist of families with children aged 1.5 to 3 years.

To resolve this problem, the municipality has developed nanny services. Currently 1,200 children have the ability to use these services. Every participating nanny can take up to five children under her care. Municipal administration also provides co-financing of EUR 129 a month.

Co-financing is also provided to private kindergartens. According to information from department representatives, in 2014 there were 114 private kindergartens. Since then Riga municipality has signed 140 cooperation contracts.

Co-financing to private kindergartens is EUR 231 a month for children aged 1.5 to 5 years. EUR 174 is provided to children of compulsory age (5 to 7 years). In May, 6,503 children received co-financing.

Department believes it would be possible to reduce the number of children waiting in queues by 600 by 2021. This could be done by continuing pre-school education infrastructure programme, assessing the possibility to expand the number of available spots by expanding available space.

Department sees room for new kindergartens in Zolitūde, where Evrika private school is located. Its rent contract ends this year. Other possible territories include Mežaparks and Jugla, where new schools are being built now.

To resolve the queues matter, the department believes it would be best to increase municipal co-financing to nanny services.

Riga City Council’s Education, Culture and Sports Committee discussed kindergarten accessibility with a number of parents. One of the fathers who attended the meeting mentioned that municipality has not been able to resolve this matter for 15 years. He added that the discussion could not convince him if there is any hope for improvements in the nearest future.

«In the 21st century I can open a bank account in a foreign country within 15 minutes. You, on the other hand, are unable to resolve the problem of queues. How can this be that there are nearly 1,000 abandoned buildings in Riga, which can be restored and made to house kindergartens, whereas you only speak of constructing new buildings,» said the man.

A mother that attended the meeting said «counting the number of children waiting in queues is unacceptable». «I have to plan my family’s life every day. I have to tell my employer that I will work. I have to plan the family’s budget. I have to tell my child when he asks if might start going to a kindergarten this year. And you want to provide this information to us only once a year,» said the mother. She and other parents are confused why the municipality cannot create a database that would update information on a regular basis.

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