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2010 Albania: The Evaluation Report on the National Children's Strategy and Action Plan (2005-2009)



Author: Mirela Muça and consisting of Irena Mitro, Gladiola Musabelliu, Irena Qorlaze, Miranda Pashaj and Arda Lazareni

Executive summary

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Background:
This report reviews progress against the National Children's Strategy and Action Plan. The National Children‟s Strategy and Action Plan, approved by the Albanian Government in 2005, set forth relevant measures for the implementation of children‟s rights over 2005-2010. In the process of implementation of this strategy, both the government‟s and society‟s perception of children's rights have changed in a profound way. The responsibilities of institutions, families and communities with regard to protecting children‟s rights have increased. The present evaluation, whose findings are presented in this report, shows the gradual progress towards the realization of the rights of all children in Albania. In addition, the evaluation throws light on issues to be analyzed responsibly by those who draft policies with impact on the implementation of children's rights.

Purpose/Objective:
The Evaluation Report on the National Children's Strategy and Action Plan (2005-2009) combined with an assessment of progress towards the objectives under this strategy for June 2008 - May 2009 aims to:
a) provide an analysis of the level of implementation of the NCS through the measurement and evaluation of indicators selected from the most important relevant sectors providing an overview of the real situation of children's rights in Albania; b) identify critical issues in the National Action Plan and its implementation and provide recommendations for the improvement of children's rights in the future; c) propose directions in which both the government and civil society may provide institutional or financial support towards further progress.

Methodology:
The members of the working groups held meetings and discussions with specialists in the public institutions responsible for the design and implementation of health, education and social protection policies. These meetings were attended by representatives of civil society, the academic institutions, and the various donors who provided their input on the various issues under discussion.
Two questionnaires were used: one for the public administrators and one for the civil society organizations. The public administration questionnaire contained five sections:
Section I: The impact of the strategy on the implementation of the right to social protection.
Section II: The right to health care.
Section III: The right to quality education.
Section IV: The right of the child to participation.
Section V: The right of the child to legal protection.

Findings and Conclusions:
With regard to the National Children‟s Strategy and Action Plan, important points are represented by the involvement of children in surveys and data collection. Poverty in general and its indicators should be examined in light of the following:
• In respect to the expanded health rights, diet needs, eating disorders and promotion of sexual education should receive increased focus;
• The strategy should provide for the enjoyment of the environmental right;
• With regard to education, differences in learning potential and learning disabilities should be given attention for both disabled children and children from vulnerable groups, such as Roma;
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• A National Authority should be established to examine data related to child abuse; this authority should also be vested with policy making powers;
• It is of priority importance to avoid child victimization in the media;
• Children‟s safety should be central: green lights and signs showing school facilities should be installed in all the relevant places;
• The Strategy should take a new perspective in relation to the re-admission of Albanian children;
• Overall, the strategy should be based on participatory processes; in particular, it should echo the voice of the children through ensuring their active participation in the drafting process.

Policies for children cannot be separate from policies involving families. Policies for children and families should:
• Protect the child and the family from poverty and social exclusion;
• Support the family to exercise parental responsibility and care for children;
• Prevent to the maximum extent possible the separation of children from their families;
• Promote community based and alternative services (home-family, custody) over residential care for children;
• Promote positive, non-violent care for children and positive parenting.
Legal improvements should continue to give life to:
• Coordination of inter-sectoral policies designed to implement children‟s rights;
• Creation of a governmental agency for the protection of the rights of the child;
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• Establishment of a network of structures, or a national system, for the protection of children‟s rights at central and local level;
• Regular statistical monitoring, on an established methodology of data collection from local government units, as well as central level institutions

Recommendations:
1. Children‟s poverty and their social exclusion should undergo a thorough analysis and be properly represented in both the successive strategy and its action plan.
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2. Local government structures, the region in particular, should be involved in the drafting, implementation and monitoring process. Their responsibilities and manner of reporting should be detailed in the strategy.
3. Policies to implement children‟s rights should be budgeted on a priority basis by both the central and local governments. The coordinating and monitoring role of the region should receive special attention in the upcoming strategy and action plan.
4. The civil society should partake actively in the drafting, but mainly in the implementation and monitoring process. In addition, children should also be involved in strategy preparation and implementation.
5. Structures at the regional level should be strengthened, in particular those responsible for the implementation of social policies. Also, the systems of collecting, processing, analyzing and reporting data should be strengthened, both at the regional and local level.
6. At the local level, policies in the education, health care and social protection sectors should be coordinated by the upgraded regional structures.



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