Kindergarten Education in Romania

Kindergartens offer preschool education for children (usually between ages 3-6) and are optional. Kindergarten typically lasts for 3 forms - "small group" (grupa mică) for children aged 3-4, "middle group" (grupa mijlocie), for children aged 4-5, and "big group" (grupa mare) for children aged 5-6.

The "preparatory school year" (clasa pregătitoare) is for children aged 6-7, and since it became compulsory in 2012, it usually takes place at school. The preparatory school year is a requirement in order to enter the first grade, being part of the primary education stage, according to Article 23 of the Education law no 1/2011 (Legea Educației Naționale nr.1/2011). During the transition period after the new law was enacted transfers of teachers occurred in order to fill in the educational needs of this year.

Kindergarten services differ from one kindergarten to another, and from public (state) to private ones, and may include initiation in foreign languages (typically English, French or German), introduction in computer studies, dancing, swimming, etc. All kindergartens provide at least one meal or one snack, some having their own kitchens and their own cooks, others opting for dedicated catering services. Many kindergartens (especially the private ones) provide children with transportation to and from the kindergarten. Groups typically have 1-2 teachers (educatori) and 10-15 children (typically more in state kindergartens).

Most public kindergartens in urban areas offer parents three types of programs, in order to better suit the parents' schedules - a short schedule (typically 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., with one snack or meal), a medium schedule (typically 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., with one snack and one meal) and a long schedule (typically 8 a.m. to 5-6 p.m., with three snacks and one meal, and almost always including after lunch sleeping periods). In rural areas, most kindergartens only have a short schedule. Rural kindergartens also suffer from underfunding and neglect.

The private sector has a very large role in providing kindergarten and day care services, having a large proportion in the market share for preschool education. Typical tuition fees for private kindergarten range between 400 and 1,600 lei monthly, depending on the town/city where the institution is located and on the services offered, whereas for public kindergarten there is no tuition fee (some may, however, charge for meals and/or transportation). The private sector is quite expensive, catering to upper and upper-middle-class families.

The relative number of available places in kindergartens is small, many having waiting lists or requiring admission and formalities to be done at least six months in advance. The lack of available places is especially obvious in state-run kindergartens, that charge no tuition fees, especially given the relatively high tuition fees of private venues. Local councils, especially in larger cities (such as Bucharest or Sibiu), where both parents typically work, seeing an increase in demand, have begun investing in expanding existing kindergartens, building new ones or offering stipends for private kindergartens as to cover part of the tuition fees.