Child development

The Issue

Unicef in action

 

Unicef in action

© UNMIK/DPI

A key approach to simultaneously improving access, quality and attainment has been the Child Friendly School Project.  Implemented in partnership with MEST, the CFSP has been launched in 30 pilot schools in 30 municipalities in Kosovo. The CFSP introduces modern teaching methods with a participatory child centred approach and actively involves parents and communities in the management of the school. Parents and teachers work together to ensure all children-including those with disability-are enrolled and that every effort is made to prevent drop out later on.

The CFSP also ensures that the school becomes an entry point for ensuring the broader well being and good health of children and their families.  Every household within a community covered by CFSP-is reached with all of the basic knowledge required for good parenting, nutrition, prevention of deadly disease and safe maternal and early childhood care. Given the specific history of Kosovo-most families having been displaced by conflict within very recent memory- CFSP includes a component in which teachers and parents are trained to work with children to help them overcome trauma , build tolerance and manage conflict. Currently CFSP reaches 80,000 children in almost 100 schools -though it is hoped that the MEST will eventually make every school in Kosovo Child Friendly.

With the aim of ensuring every Kosovo child-regardless of ethnicity or disability-realises their dream of a first class education, UNICEF is assisting MEST in ensuring social inclusion in education services. As the MEST is a relatively new body-it has been busy working on developing a new curriculum for teaching and a comprehensive strategy for managing education in Kosovo. UNICEF has contributed to both process by providing technical assistance on Curriculum Development and by undertaking a Minority Education research project to assist the MEST with ensuring the comprehensive strategy is socially inclusive. UNICEF is also working directly with civil society partners who represent those with high drop out or non-enrolment rates, such as disabled rights groups and ethnic minorities , to overcome traditional and cultural barriers to education.

UNICEF is also assisting MEST to reverse low levels of Early Child Education activities. Less than 10% of 3-6 year olds are in kindergartens in Kosovo. Yet early childhood education is both critical in the development of 3-6 year old and as a means of reaching their families with knowledge information of best parenting practice.

© UNICEF/kosovo/001/05

MEST has limited resources to develop Early Childhood Education facilities throughout Kosovo-so UNICEF has assisted them through the development of 19  Community Based Early Childhood Education Centres (CBECEC) in 6 pilot municipalities. CBECEC’s draw on resources which exist within local communities, promote best practice in early childhood education and provide information to parents on best parenting practice and child health. UNICEF also provided technical assistance to the parliamentary working group to develop the new pre-school law.

UNICEF is supporting local  women’s NGOs to provide literacy classes for women of child bearing age. So far some 3000 women have been reached through 180 small scale community groups across Kosovo. UNICEF is also working with MEST to ensure that Women’s Literacy has a formalised and recognised curriculum.  

UNICEF’s interventions in early childhood education and women’s literacy are both reinforced by the Kosovo-wide Sesame Street Project. Children the world over are familiar with the US television show and the antics of Big Bird and a host of other furry characters. The show is also internationally recognised as a first class tool for the educational development of 3 to 6 year old children-and even those above. It helps children learn to read and count and provides them with vital social stimulation and teaches them about tolerance and living in a multi-cultural society.  UNICEF , in collaboration with the regional security and democratization body-The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and Radio Television Kosovo (RTK) has now ensured that Kosovo children too can enjoy Sesame Street.

52 episodes-including 26 locally produced live action slots-have been broadcast to children all over Kosovo in Albanian and Serbian languages since December 2004. New outreach materials are being produced and will be distributed to households in target areas-for home based early childhood education activities. A particular focus will be placed upon newly literate mothers reading and playing with the outreach materials with their children.

 

 
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