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BMBWF wins EU -wide project for elementary education

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The Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research has won the contract for an EU project from over 500 submissions from all 27 EU member states.

As a result, the quality of the offer in the area of ​​elementary education can be strengthened with the help of the European quality framework and best practice from Austria and other EU member states. For this reason, the Ministry has requested technical assistance through the Technical Assistance Instrument (TSI) of the European Union.

This EU program provides EU member states with tailor-made technical expertise to design and implement reforms. On behalf of the Austrian authorities, this two-year project (2022-2024) will be carried out in close partnership with the federal states and with the participation of other relevant stakeholders in a cooperative and open process. For this purpose, a project-accompanying advisory group and a working group were set up.

background
Early childhood provides a crucial window of opportunity to shape a child’s holistic development and lay a foundation for their future. The European Pillar of Social Rights states that all children have the right to affordable early childhood education and care of good quality. A child’s earliest years lay the foundations and skills for learning that will be built on throughout life. Learning is an incremental process. Building a strong foundation in the early years is an important prerequisite for higher skill development and later educational success, just as it is essential for children’s health and well-being. Participating in basic education and interacting with well-trained and highly qualified professionals is beneficial for all children and especially for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. It helps to prevent the formation of early skills gaps and is therefore a key tool in tackling inequalities and educational poverty. Quality, affordable and accessible early childhood education and care also allows for greater parental participation in the labor market.

Demand for elementary education for children aged 0-6 is increasing in Austria, but a lack of trained professionals has led to limited supply. Attendance rates are very low, particularly among children under the age of three. The main cause of this deficiency is related to:

There are different basic conditions for the staff in the federal states and municipalities, including differences in salaries, group sizes, the skilled worker-child ratio, the preparation times and much more.
Many, especially men, do not find work in this professional field attractive, which is certainly also strongly influenced by the low social recognition of the profession and the low pay in some cases.
There is a high turnover of skilled workers due to retirements but also due to changes to employers with more attractive working conditions.
The different framework conditions have a negative effect on the quality of early childhood education and care and thus on improving the well-being of the child. For example, due to the lack of qualified staff, large group sizes and high fluctuation, language support cannot be guaranteed in the highest possible quality, which has a negative impact on many children, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Intended Impact and Results
The aim of this project is to raise the general conditions and the situation of the staff in the field of elementary education with the help of instruments to be developed together with the federal states and with the involvement of other relevant stakeholders, and thus to improve the quality of elementary education in Austria. This should lead to a strengthening of the quality, availability and stability of the educational staff in Austria and to a reduction in the shortage of staff in order to improve access to and the quality of elementary educational offers in the country.

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