A ‘young’ country on the move
Albania emerged from 45 years of isolation following the demise of its Communist regime in 1991. The country faced the difficult socioeconomic and political transition to democracy and open markets while struggling with poor governance and organized crime, and undergoing a series of debilitating challenges:
A societal shake-up
During the Communist era, a whole generation grew accustomed to guaranteed government jobs, concentrated largely in rural areas. In addition, factories built during the years of the state-owned economy were not oriented to the needs of a market economy; many closed, eliminating thousands of jobs. These profound changes brought a significant societal shake-up. Around a quarter of the population headed to the cities in search of new livelihoods, breaking supportive family and community bonds and overwhelming the already fragile social services in urban areas.
An additional 20 per cent of
The societal upheaval has also brought problems almost unknown in
Services: slow rehabilitation
Services that used to be widely available deteriorated badly in the early years of the transition, and limited budgets means they are only slowly being repaired and brought up to current standards. Health centres, especially in rural areas, are poorly staffed and equipped. While almost all children attended pre-school during the Communist years, now only 44 per cent do, and in rural areas, just 13 per cent. Primary and secondary schools are being rebuilt, but teaching methods are not child centred, and materials are outdated. As a result, growing numbers of students are dropping out.
But Albanian showed its commitment to its children by its early ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992, and it is working hard to realize the Millennium Development Goals agreed at the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000. The past two years have generated optimism about realization of child rights as real progress has been seen around the country. UNICEF has helped Albania to reach these achievements:
These and other achievements are helping the country move along the path towards full realization of child rights, and encouraging its key resource -- the young generation -- to stay and build the future of Albania.
Some statistics may differ from UNICEF's official data due to differences such as definitions and sample size. Complete official UNICEF data can be found on the main UNICEF website at www.unicef.org