An additional 700-750 spots will be added to Reykjavík preschools over the next five years in an attempt to bridge the gap between parental leave and preschool. By 2023, children will be guaranteed preschool admission from the age of 12 months. The spots will be created with the building of five new preschools, adding classrooms to existing ones, and increasing enrolment at privately-run preschools. RÚV reported first.
The development is part of the City of Reykjavík’s action plan to bridge the 15-month gap between parental leave and preschool. Parents in Iceland are currently entitled to nine months of parental leave, but children in Reykjavík are not guaranteed a spot in preschools until the age of 24 months.
The project, which is estimated to cost ISK 5.2 billion ($42m/€37m), will establish a department for infants at all existing preschools with four or more departments. There are currently 14 such departments in the city, but they are set to increase by seven per year over the coming years. Four existing preschools will receive new classrooms in portable housing starting next year.
While Reykjavík preschools currently take in new students once a year in the fall, the new program will add an additional admission period in the winter, and admission at other times will be possible if space allows.
A press release on the City of Reykjavík website states “an important prerequisite for the project is that the government’s plan to lengthen parental leave to 12 months is realised,” as increased services in the five-year plan are intended to fully close the gap between parental leave and preschool.
“The main factor of uncertainty is a shortage of preschool teachers,” the press release further states, “but their numbers should increase with the city’s targeted measures to improve their working environment.”