Government amendments to the law “On Education” on a unified organizational and technical basis for enrolling children in kindergartens on an electronic basis passed the first reading in the State Duma on November 12. Parliamentarians hope that this will help to make the process of allocating places in preschool institutions transparent.
As noted in the explanatory note to the bill, electronic queues will function at the level of regional information systems. The main advantage of this technology for parents is that they will be informed in time about how their child has moved to the cherished place in the kindergarten. If, for some reason, the sequence of seat allocation changes, the system will have to report this as well.
The information system will record data about children put on the waiting list, about kindergartens, as well as the results of considering applications for a place and children who are already attending a preschool institution.
“This will increase the responsibility of bodies and organizations authorized to enter information into these information systems, ensure uniformity of mechanisms for recording data on children who need a place in educational institutions implementing educational programs for preschool education,” the explanatory note says.
The electronic queue will not become synonymous with transparency, experts say. The main problem, as always, is in the language invented by officials.
As Kirill Druzhinin, an expert of the Commission of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation on social policy, labor relations and quality of life, explained, far from all children who actually stand in it are taken into account in the queue for a place in kindergarten.
– There is a letter from the Ministry of Education and Science, which says that only those children who entered it for the first time are taken into account in the queue for a place in kindergarten, – explained Druzhinin, – If for some reason the parents refused the place in the garden offered to them, they are transferred to the next year and are not taken into account in the queue, but transferred to the category of “deferred demand”.
Children who have been allocated a place in a kindergarten far from home regularly get into “deferred demand”. They are not taken into account in the statistics of waiting lists after refusal, which means that the shortage of places in preschool institutions, if there is, is insignificant – much less than in reality. At the same time, children with temporary registration at the place of residence are also not included in the waiting list statistics.
– In Kirov alone, 34 parents have now filed a lawsuit against the city administration because of the provision of places in gardens 50 kilometers from home. This trend is observed in all regions. New residential complexes are built without taking into account the standards, even if the developer takes on the burden of building social infrastructure facilities. According to the standards, there should be 65 places in the garden per thousand inhabitants. In fact, it most often happens that a kindergarten for 250 children is being built in a residential complex for seven thousand people, – said Druzhinin.
Experts’ fears are confirmed by Rosstat figures. According to the department’s estimates, over the past four years, the number of preschool childcare facilities has decreased: 47.8 thousand kindergartens in 2018 against 51 thousand in 2014. At the same time, the number of pupils increased from 6,813 in 2014 to 7,582 at the end of last year.