Pre-school educational system in Ukraine

education Ukraine schools universities

Source:Education for All 2000 Assessment:Ukraine National Report,
Ministry of Education of Ukraine,1990-1999,Kyiv - 1999

General remarks

In the Soviet Union pre-school education and training of children for the beginning of schooling were of great importance. The opportunity of strengthening of collectivist compound of education, realization of desirable primary ideological and political influence on children was the political
foundation for expansion of the kindergartens' network. Not less important should become the economic gain from involvement of young mothers into the labor market.
In Ukraine there was plenty of pre-school education institutions, which were the properties of factories and other industrial objects. A network of pedagogical schools, technical schools and institutes provided all these institutions with well-prepared experts. In the 80s more than 90 per cent of pre-schools' staff had the appropriate education, and in the 90s - more than 97 per cent.
The expansion of the pre-schools' network in Ukraine with its high level of qualification of the female population proceeded till the last years of existence of the Soviet Union. That is why maximal enrolment of children by different forms of public pre-schools are related to the late 80s.
Later on the negative aspects of evolution of the pre-school education institutions' network prevailed upon the positive ones.

Table 1.Evolution of the public pre-school institutions' network in Ukraine










 1.Enrolments of permanent institutions (thousands)
- urban
- rural








2.The number of places in permanent institutions (thousands)
- urban
- rural

2 515

1 838

2 277

1 662


2 014

1 463

1 856

1 350

1 770

1 255

1 638

1 152

3.Enrolments of pre-schools (thousands)
- urban
- rural

2 600
2 048

2 428
1 877

1 800
1 420

1 536
1 222

1 342
1 085

1 172

1 103

4.Scope of children, aged 1-6 years old (%)
- rural








5. Enrolments of tutors (thousands)








6."Filling" of pre-schools (%)
- urban
- rural








7 Amount of refusals to parents to accept their child into a pre-school institution (thousands)






In the late of the 90s there has been a reduction in the kindergarten network due to the following: lack of funds in local budgets to maintain kindergartens;the decline in birth rate; and extended periods of unemployment among parents. The temporary closure of pre-school institutions has become regular phenomenon. Financial situation in the sphere of pre-school education might be improved by transforming pre-school institutions into municipal property; this process has 
intensified during 1997-1999. However, an increase both in the number of kindergarten-primary school educational institutions for mentally and physically disabled children and those operating in the Ukrainian language is observed.

The up-to-date educational legislation of Ukraine gives much attention to the pre-school education. Adoption of Laws On Pre-School Education, On protection of Childhood, and On Approval of the State Standard of Pre-School Education could be considered as timely police interventions both to protect existing institutions and to set appropriate standards for newly emerging non-state initiatives.

Two articles of the Law on Education state:

" Article 33. Pre-school education

Pre-school education is carried out in a family, pre-school education institutions in co-operation with family and pursue the purpose of maintenance of physical and mental health of children, their all-round development, acquiring of vital experience, and also skills and habits necessary for the 
further education.

Article 34. Pre-school education institutions

1. Pre-school education institutions are: day nurseries, kindergartens, day nursery-kindergartens, institutions of different types - family, compensating (for mentally and physically disabled children) and combinations of types with short-term, day time, round-the-clock stay of children, and also boarding kindergartens, children's homes and others.

2. Access of children to pre-schools is carried out at the request of their parents or persons, who replace them. "

Educational system officials and local authorities (we will remind, that the financing of pre-schools is carried out from the local budgets) in common try to provide parents with the greatest choice of institutions, according to the personality and mental and physical health of their child. For this purpose even inder the present crisis period there continue to open pre-school education 
institutions, which differ by their purpose, patterns of ownership, type (art - aesthetic, rehabilitation, physical training, sanitary, humanitarian specialization and so on.).

As earlier, there exist specialized institutions for physically and mentally disabled children and for children with some diseases. Mainly they are institutions of a sanatorium type. For orphans and children, which are deprived of parental care, there are kindergartens and houses of a family type, enrolments of which at the end of 1994 were more than 3 400 children.

Establishment of high-grade "school-kindergarten" complexes which is of great importance especially for rural areas it is possible to consider as the positive phenomenon. In 1994 the number of such complexes was 747 with enrolments of about 15 000 children.

The changes in the sphere of legislation and democratization of management in education have enabled language minorities to carry out their aspiration to bring up children in more favorable language conditions. At the beginning of 1995 the distribution of kindergartens accordingly to the operating language was as follows.

Table 2. Distribution of pre-school institutions accordingly to the language of operating

Language 1994






(In % of total) 

18 000
1 150 000







(As % of total)

7 000
645 000





2 400


3 700







1 500






 Note: Enrolments in pre-schools with Hungarian, Romanian and other languages changed a little during 1995-97.

Economic crisis and cut of financial-material resources of the state budget and of those enterprises, which possessed almost 58 per cent of total of pre-school education institutions, has caused appreciable decrease of the pre-schools network and reduction of the level of 1-6 year age group scope by pre-schools approximately up to 35 per cent.

Quantitative parameters

Different age groups and their scope by pre-school programs

The majority of data, according evolution of the pre-school educational system in Ukraine during 1990-1999, unfortunately, prove some negative trends in development of the pre-school educational system in Ukraine. A number of social and economic reasons explain stable reduction of both network and enrolments of different pre- schools for children of 1-6 year age group.

In Ukraine the complete information about all this large group of children is traditionally accumulated, though accentual pre-school programs of study are completed only by the elder part of this age group - from three till six years old. The Ukrainian legislation financially stimulates the mothers' care of children aged up to three years old, that is why a great part of children, aged 
from one till three years old does not attend any type of public or private specialized institutions of pre-school education.

If to use the data of the Ministry of Education for the network of pre-schools, subordinated to it, it will appear, that the ratio of enrolments of 1-3 and 3-6 years age group is very close to the ratio 1:9. It means, that in all pre-school institutions, given in the Tables concerning enrolment, 10 per cent of children are aged from one up to three years old, and 90 per cent - elder pre-school 
group, aged three - six years old. It enables with to transform without difficulties the Tables for 1-6 years age group into two separate groups of Tables for younger (1-3 years old) and elder children (3-6 years old). In Ukraine there are no reliable data concerning the scope by pre-school education of children for each separate year: 1-2, 2-3, 3-4 and so on. It does not give the opportunity to present scope levels by the preparatory programs, for example, of five-year-olds and six-year-olds before they in the age of 6 or 7 enter the first grade of elementary school.

Personal interest of parents to get pre-school education for their children is rather strong, and the opportunities of the available network, despite of its significant reduction in comparison with 1990, prevail above demand for it.

The last line of Table 1, though also incomplete, undoubtedly proves practical lack of refusals to parents, when they address to the choosed pre-school institution. It should be mentioned, that the annual amount of newborns in Ukraine during years of deepening of social and economic crisis has dropped almost twice (from 700-800 thousands in the 80s up to 400-500 thousands in the 

To sum up, we will emphasis that 35 per cent of scope by pre-school education of 1-6 years old age group gives a chance practically to all entrants into the first grade to take part in the programs of pre-school education. They usually do it in the age from 5 till 7.

The preservation in Ukraine of traditions of equal access of boys and girls to all kinds of the preparatory or developing programs completely removes a gender problem. As well as in the system of compulsory education, girls and boys are equally presented in pre-schools.

Reasons for reduction of the pre-school education institutions network and its enrolments

During transition of the Ukrainian economy from the centralized and the planned to regulated-market one significant changes took places in management and financing of the pre-school education institutions network.

Despite some positive indicators, overall, the economic situation in Ukraine in the late 90s continued to be complex. The state budget revenue was being collected with great difficulties while the budgets of most enterprises and institutions were not balanced. Moreover, there was no decrease in dept payments among enterprises while arrears in payment of salaries, pensions and other social allowances were not eliminated. Yet, to a certain degree financial stabilization was achieved, inflation decreased to 1 per cent, and the negative growth rates of the GNP and industrial production were stabilized.

The crisis situation in economy has become a real disaster for a significant part of the largest state factories and enterprises - termination of the stable state financing and also impossibility to sell out-of-date and low-quality domestic products (agricultural and other machines, machine tools and so on) on the world market, have stopped work of many of them.
It caused termination of financing of approximately half of pre-school institutions, which were properties of these factories and were intended for their workers' children. For rescue these institutions were transformed into municipal property. Now practically all the public pre-school education institutions are in municipal property and are financed from the local budgets. 
The protection or closure of such institutions, transforming them from a mode of permanent work into seasonal or non-permanent one is decided by local authorities, taking into account the resources and needs for the preparatory programs for children.

Hence, reduction of the pre-school institutions network and changes in their submission and financing are an objective process, which cannot be estimated only negatively. We can't consider that it proportionally reduces opportunities of providing the preparatory programs to the future entrants into the first grade.

This follows from that fact that there was a significant reduction of potential enrolments of such institutions. It has caused the most part (over one million) of reduction of pre-school institutions' enrolment in 1990 - 1998 (from 2.428 thousand up to 1.100 thousand children - 2.2 times as less). Let's remind, that in 1997 in Ukraine 442 600 children were born, that is 1,7 times as less as it was at the beginning of the 80s. Demographic data prove, that 7/12 of all reductions of the pre-schools' enrolments in Ukraine are connected with the decline in birth rate.

One more reason of the pre-school education institutions' enrolment reduction might be considered as positive - the new legislation gives to a young mother the right to remain with her child till he is three years old. Extended periods of unemployment among young parents also caused the fact that they are out of work and are compelled to be at home with children.

Taking into account all negative and positive phenomena in the up-to-date state of the system of pre-school education in Ukraine it is necessary to mention, that still the destructive processes prevail. Many kindergartens, which were earlier the properties of collective and state agrarian facilities (collective and state farms), of large factories and so on, are closed. The majority of 
institutions with permanent educational and sanitary work were transformed into seasonal ones.
The reduction of financing of the overwhelming majority of pre-school education institutions has resulted in prevailing in them only of two items of expenses - on payment of the personnel and feed of children. Very often there are no funds to update furniture, toys and other equipment.
And even as to the mentioned two items of expenses there are a lot of problems:many cases of a wages delay during several months, many problems with the providing of sanitary-hygienic norms and with the requirements to the meals of children and so forth. It is especially inadmissible taking into account deterioration of the ecological conditions of the most Ukrainian territory.

Complex of social and ecological negative influences explains (see data of recent researches of UNESCO experts about state of health of Ukrainian people ) the tendency of increasing cases of various diseases among small children, deterioration of average parameters of health.
The correction of the situation is prevented by economic crisis. For example, because of lack of means in summer time the majority of kids can't rest in more favorable conditions. Charities of developed countries' citizens, which help to make Ukrainian children, injured of accident in Chernobyl regions, healthier, treatment of some groups of Ukrainian children on Cuba - measures, worthy praises, but they can not replace an effective national program of child 

Relative share of parents' participation in payment for education of their children in pre-school institutions gradually grows. Maximal payment is in private institutions, but in public and municipal ones it is also gradually growing. For example, in 1997 parents paid 15-20 per cent of cost - about 79,5 UAH for one child a year.
The legal uncertainty of distribution of the responsibility between participants - parents and owners of pre-school education institutions - is kept. According to the decrees of the Government, the size of parents' payment for education in pre-school institutions depends on the average income of family but not on the quality of the given services, developing and language programs and so forth. Due to the State programs of social protection of the population in many cases parents from low-income families, single mothers and others are released from payment.
Among the latest important events in Ukraine, concerning pre-school education, it is necessary to mention the work upon the Law of the direct effect "On Pre-School Education ", the draft of which is close to consideration by the Supreme Rada. The creation under the leadership of the Ministry of Education of the pre-school education concept with detailed state standards of the program of development and preparation of future entrants into the first grade for regular 
schooling in elementary schools undoubtedly will be of great importance.

Contents of pre-school education programs

West European countries are well-known in development of systems of public care and pre-school education, and also of training children for successful schooling. The practice of these countries has proved public necessity of children mass scope under school age by training, adapted to their age, its large positive influence on their successful education at school and so on.

  • The experience of European countries and developed countries of other regions of the world was widely used in the Soviet Union during establishment and expansion of the pre-school education institutions network as well. In the 80s there were (as in other democratic countries) three positive trends in the gradual solving of the following problems: reduction of the size of groups up to 20 children and less; keeping these groups' structure stability as long as possible;

  •  Improvement of tutors' professional training, increasing of its duration and transferring from secondary pedagogical institutions into higher ones (institutes and even universities).

 Instructions and methods of education were being improved regularly. The positive experience of separate institutions was spread among majority ones. State bodies, responsible for the network of pre-school institutions issued much literature, professional magazines and employees of pre-school institutions could easily get it. Besides, they had an possibiliity regularly - with 
discontinuing work or without it - to improve their skills and to get new knowledge in their professional qualification in the network of specialized official bodies.
Following these complex and well-balanced measures there was a rather high qualitative level of pre-school education in Ukraine, which by most parameters was not worse than that in the countries of Western Europe. Programs of education and development of children were constantly being improved, and the personnel of pre-schools improved their formal qualification and professional skills. For this purpose a system of courses and lectures was created. It was 
subsidized from the state budget. The best experience of the developed countries and also the achievements of the national pre-schools was used in the pre-school education network in Ukraine.

In Tab. 3 pre-school education contents general trends in several countries of Europe and in Ukraine in the 80-90s is shown.

Table 3. Priority types of activities in pre-schools of different countries


Physical and mental development //
 Self-realization and socialization //
 Native language //
 Personal hygiene //Training for schooling

Body and movement // Word and speech // Space, time, measures // Nature // 
Communication // "Me" and others

Autonomy and socialization //
Games and development of physical, mental and emotional abilities //Hygiene and self-service

Self-realization and personal autonomy // Physical and social environment 
// Communicative and representative skills

Psycho-motor development // Initiation into Sciences and Technology // 
Communication, language, writing // 
Art and aesthetics

Self-realization // Psycho-motor development // Native language //Arithmetic and Mathematics //
 English // Safe movement // 

Psycho-motor development // Art // 
Technology and Nature // Religion and civics
Training for reading and mathematics 

Psycho-motor development // Plastic art // Language // Mathematics // 
Music // Sciences about Nature

Movement // Native language // 
Music and arts // Mathematics
Great Britain

Art // Socialization and civics // Language // Mathematics // Physical education //
 Science and technology //Religion

The core of the Ukrainian pre-school educational program is also in present practice of pre-schools in Ukraine and it continues to be improved. Co-operation of educators of the Ukrainian pre-school institutions with their colleagues from the developed countries, acquaintance with achievements of national and foreignpre-school education and exchange of positive experience became the positive phenomenon.

Pre-schools reduction in 1990-1998

Analyzing integrated parameter of participation in Ukraine of 1-6 years old age group of children in pre-school education for the 1990 - 1999 period for each separate administrative unit - 24 oblasts, Autonomous Republic of Crimea and two cities - Kyiv and Sevastopol.( The oblasts are consolidated in regions upon their territorial attribute, that enables to emphasize their certain educational and cultural differences generated as a result of historical social and economic development.) we can say that:

1.Western region (eight oblasts) is notable by its lowest for Ukraine children scope with formal pre-school education, hence, with paying greater attention to family education. In this region there is lower in comparison with average for Ukraine degree of industrialization and urbanization, smaller opportunity for women to find job. This difference is a stable phenomenon and does not depend on year of observation. This fact is known to the top officials of the educational system of Ukraine, that's why in national programs of development of pre-school education the activization of measures for acceleration of development of this educational level for all especially in Western region is stipulated.

One more negative phenomenon, typical for this region, is large reduction of the degree of children scope by pre-school education. It is about 40 per cent - 45 per cent, except for Khmel'nyts'kyi oblast where it is about 31,6 per cent. In the rest of regions and oblasts of Ukraine the reduction of children scope by pre-school education is less, except for Autonomous Republic of Crimea (45,6 per cent), Odessa and Kirovograd oblasts (more than 40 per cent).
2.Lower as in comparison with the average for all Ukraine (33,3 per cent - one third of the parameter in 1990) extent of reduction of children scope by pre-school education is observed in regions and oblasts with maximal for Ukraine industrialization and urbanization - Donets'k, Dnipropetrovs'k, Kharkiv and others.
3.Kyiv is an exception among all oblasts. Only in the capital the level of children scope in 1998 was higher, than in 1990. Positive processes in economy of the city can explain it.
Analysis of the ratio of reduction of 1 - 6 years old children scope by programs of development and pre-school education in 1990-1994 and in 1994-1998 proves that fact that the main part (on the average about 60 per cent) of this regress had place during the first four years. It means, that in the last years the rates of reduction degree concerning children scope by pre-school education 
appreciably decreased, and the tendency of stabilization is evident, at any rate in some oblasts and in accordance with the up-to-date demographic situation. The comparison of the given data for the two last years for many oblasts - Chernivtsi, Khmel'nyts'kyi, Zakarpattia, Sumy, all East and South and so forth shows termination of the reduction.

The stabilization trends concerning children scope by pre-school education is evident due to the  data of the pre-schools enrolments in 1990-1997. Enrollment reduction in 1990-1994 was larger than in 1994-1998 - 28,5 per cent and 26 per cent accordingly.

Because of a number of some economic reasons the situation with the amount of pre-school education institutions was quite different. Evolution of their network is showed in Tab. S2. Though there are no data for 1991-1993 in this Table, it is evident, that for the period from 1990 till 1994 the reduction of the institutions' amount was only 9 per cent, and for the next four years -19,3 per cent. The main reason was, of course, the aggravation of financial and economic crisis. And, hence, significant reduction of the network of pre-school institutions during 1994-1998 was the result of lack of funds on their providing and desire for more expedient distribution and use of the limited resources of local bodies of authorities.
Analyzing state and trends of development of pre-school education of the 1-6 years old age group of children in Ukraine, it is necessary to emphasize, that at the moment of declaration of independence achievements of this link in the national educational system were rather significant and even more considerable in comparison with those of many developed countries.
The influence of years of economic crisis and decline of industry were even more appreciable for pre-school education, than for the most of other compounds of the system of continuous education. And the losses are mainly quantitative, quality of educators and scientists, of methodical and scientific achievements, professional skills of the personnel and so on are still on the high level, hence, upon favorable economic conditions the system of pre-school education will quickly be restored and will progress. The quantitative data, given above in the several tables testify to the almost complete termination of degradation processes.


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