Early Literacy Education in Preschool Curriculum Reforms: The Case of Post-Communist Slovakia
This paper describes the development of preschool literacy education in Slovakia, beginning with the
communist era, when the country was isolated from broader international academic discourse and early
literacy research, then the period after the fall of the totalitarian regime up to the present day. It describes
how the traditional approach to teaching literacy, relying on an obsolete model of reading and writing
instruction taught at primary school, has resulted in preschools having limited capacity to develop
children’s literacy. It also explains attempts to reform the preschool literacy curriculum after the fall of the
totalitarian regime. The first of these followed Slovakia’s most comprehensive education reform act in
2008, but it underestimated the specific role of written language in children’s language and cognitive
development and in subsequent academic performance. Consequently, the reforms merely reproduced the
traditional approach to literacy development within the new format of a decentralized curriculum.
The consequences of the 2008 education reform act, and the pressure exerted by the results of
international student assessments, resulted in a strong initiative from the academic field to reform the
preschool curriculum on an evidentiary basis. The authors of this paper describe how they developed the
thinking behind the new preschool literacy curriculum. The paper looks at how this became part of
Slovakia’s national preschool curriculum which was implemented in 2016, including the process in which
the curriculum was reviewed by the institutions of the Ministry of Education and by professional
organizations involved in early childhood education in Slovakia.
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