In order to create the best educational course for nurses possible, it is necessary to understand the background in the Early Childcare and Education, its purpose and ways of work in the European countries. That is why the partners are working on a comparative study about the Early childcare and Education System in the partner countries.
The first country we would like to present is Greece.
Parenthood and employment
In Greece, as in most Southern European countries, the key welfare provider is the ‘family’ which influences the arrangements of child care provision, arrangements for materningy, paternity and parental leave and other issues. Greece has one of the highest percentages of couples with children and married couples with two children in Europe, it has also the lowest percentage of lone parent families. As the nuclear family is very important to Greeks, there is a lot of processes going on on this level, such as informal childcare possibilities and financial help.
As the “traditional” division of roles in households is still a trend in Greece, we can observe one of the higest Employment Gender Gaps in Europe which means there is one of the lowest participation of women in the labour market compared to other European countries. On the other hand, there is low Employment Impact of Parenthood on Greek women. While in most of the countries women’s work rates generally decrease as the number of children raises, in Greece there is even a slight positive impact of motherhood on the employment of women in Greece.
Regarding the employment in part time jobs, Greece is below the European average with 11 % of people in employment working. Part time jobs are more often attended by women then by men, the reasons for working part-time are the inability to find a full-time job (65 %), personal or family reasons (11 %) and taking care of children or dependent adults (5 %).
Maternity/parental leave and benefits
The maximum period of post-natal leave available in Greece is 72 months in the public sector and 14 months in the private sector; but leave paid at a high rate runs only for 12 months and six months respectively. There is an entitlement to ECEC at five years of age, and attendance is compulsory for the year before the beginning of elementary school (i.e. from around six years). So there is no gap between the end of post-natal leave and an entitlement to ECEC for public sector workers, but a gap of nearly four years for workers in the private sector; there is a substantial gap, of four years or more, for all workers between the end of well-paid leave and an ECEC entitlement. Levels of attendance at formal services for children under and over three years are well below the average for OECD countries.
Preschool care in Greece is offered both by the Kindergartens ran by the Ministry of Education, which cater for 4-6 year olds as well as through Day Care Centers which care for children 6 months up to the age of 5 and are run by the Municipalities, under the supervision of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The Ministry of Education exercises centralized control over state schools, by prescribing the curriculum, appointing staff and controlling funding. Private schools also fall under the mandate of the Ministry, which exercises supervisory control over them. All levels of education are catered for by both private and public schools. State-run schools and universities do not charge tuition fees.
Early childhood education, represented by Kindergarten programmes (Nipiagogeion), provide services for children 4 to 6 years of age. Since 2006 this has become compulsory for children ages 5 and 6. Early childhood education offered through the Day Care Nurseries caters for children from 6 months up to 5 years. The local municipalities are responsible for the running of the day care nurseries, there is no national curriculum in relation to the early years education offered at the Day Care Nurseries, only some brief guidelines. The children can attend the Day Care Nurseries between 7.00 and 16.00.
While the Pre-School Curriculum for the Kindergartens under the Ministry of education is prepared by the Pedagogical Institute (Paedagogiko Institouto) and manuals are available in order to carry out the educational task, there is no explicit curriculum in relation to the Day Care Nurseries. There are brief guidelines which refer to suggestions in relation to the children’s care and daily schedule.
The Day Care Nurseries are primarily a space for care and safety for preschool aged children, which aim at:
- Offering preschool education in accordance with the most up to date scientific evidence.
- Helping children to develop holistically, physically, mentally, emotionally and socially.
- Diminishing, as much as possible, the differences related to the parents’ cultural, financial and educational status, supporting inclusion.
- Providing a service to the parents while at the same time sensitising them in relation to issues related to current pedagogy and psychology.
- Assisting children in a the transition from the family to the school setting.
- Offering daily nutrition and care for all children, adhering to the regulations of safety and hygiene
Qualification of nurses/childcare professionals
The preschool teachers employed at the Kindergartens under the Ministry of Education have completed a 4 year preschool education course at one of the Preschool Education University Departments. The preschool educators employed at the Day Care Nurseries ran by the Municipalities, under the Ministry of Internal affairs can be University graduates, but have mostly completed a 4 Year Preschool Education programme at the Preschool Education Departments of the Technological Educational Institutions.
The preschool teachers employed by the Ministry of education are offered regular Continuing Professional Development opportunities, some of which are compulsory. This is not the case for the educators employed by the Day Care Nurseries ran by the Municipalities, where Continuing Professional Development opportunities are not centrally controlled and largely depend on the specific circumstances of each Municipality.
The educators employed at the Day Care Nurseries are mostly graduates of the 4 year preschool education programmes ran by the Technological Educational Institutions or graduates of the University Departments. Educators who have attended up to 2 year courses may be employed as assistants.