Primary school years
Kosovo possessed an extensive primary school network that provided access to students from even the most remote communities. This network of primary schools was particularly hard hit by the conflict and the decade of neglect that preceded it. More than half of the schools in Kosovo were either destroyed or damaged. Only 17 per cent of schools emerged unscathed. UNICEF and numerous donors have engaged in the successful rehabilitation of school buildings all over Kosovo.
Education facilities have been improved, but given the massive population shift from rural to urban areas after the conflict, there is now surplus primary school capacity in rural areas and not enough in towns and cities. Some rural schools have had to close, which means that for some children the distance to school is now greater. In urban areas, overcrowding means that most schools operate at least two shifts per day and some as many as four. This clearly has a negative impact on the child, given the reduced hours in the classroom. Serious problems persist with sanitary facilities and water quality, especially in rural areas.
Traditionally, Kosovo has enjoyed relatively high rates of school enrolment. Official statistics note that there is near universal primary school enrolment for the Kosovo Albanian and Kosovo Serb communities (97.5 per cent and 99 per cent respectively). However, enrolment rates for children from non-Serb minority communities (Roma, Ashkalia, Egyptian,Turkish, Bosniak and others) remain comparatively low with only 77 per cent of children between the ages of six and 14 enrolled in school. Gender disparities are even more alarming with only 69 per cent of girls from minorities enrolled.
The Ministry of Education Science and Technology supported by UNICEF has undertaken reforms which include development of education policies, reforms in the curriculum for pre-school, primary and secondary education, introducing modern teaching methods and human rights perspective. Another priority of the government is to create a space for all children who still remain out of primary schools, such as children with special needs and children from minority communities.
Access to basic qualitative services for children with special needs remains as the main obstacle for their integration into society. A survey of working children showed that there are instances of harmful child labour especially among the Roma and Ashkalia communities and many instances of children being out on the streets until late at night.