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All children in Austria are entitled to fair and equal conditions when starting school. It is very important to me that the prerequisites necessary to achieve this are met.

At the time of starting school education, language is a key skill. Children who are able to express themselves in the German language and who have an age-appropriate vocabulary when they start school, doubtless have an advantage over those who cannot or have not. It is often very hard to catch up on language development during school time, and children with language difficulties do not only face problems in German classes but in other subjects as well. However, these obstacles can be avoided by early language support.

Kindergarten provides child-appropriate assistance and guidance in an especially important phase of life. At the same time it is also an educational institution: We have to start an early and nationwide targeted support to enable our children a good start in school. Pedagogic measures are carried out by the newly developed nationwide „Kindergarten Education Plan“ and by a „Kindergarten Language Support Education Plan“ specially worked out on behalf of the Ministry of Education.

Particularly in the last year before starting school, there should be lots of incentives and stimuli to language development and social learning. As Minister for Education I campaigned to increase the funds for early language support tenfold, from €500,000 to €5 million. This is a direct investment in our children’s future.

All children should have the opportunity to attend kindergarten at least one year before starting school. Therefore an agreement between Federal and State levels was drawn up stating that half-day kindergarten attendance in the year before starting school should be free of charge for parents, in effect since the beginning of the kindergarten year 2009/2010.  The Federal level ensures this by sharing the resulting additional costs with the State and Municipal levels by contributing 70 million Euros per kindergarten year. In future children who have reached the age of five by August 31, will attend kindergarten from September to June except during school holidays.