Children in Kosovo

UNICEF in Kosovo promotes social inclusion of the most vulnerable children. We are committed to leave no child behind!

Group of children smiling.
UNICEF/UN040797/Karahoda

UNICEF Kosovo remained the most reliable voice for children in media outlets compared to key organizations that work on child rights issues in Kosovo.

Around 50% of the population of Kosovo is younger than twenty-five and 34% younger than 18.

The children of Kosovo - it’s future generations - are still subject to significant obstacles in realizing their basic rights.

Children in rural areas are less likely to access good quality education and health care, and this is doubly so for members of ethnic minorities and those living in displacement camps. Children with disabilities also face numerous challenges and remain for a large part invisible in Kosovo.

Health and education systems have struggled to modernize, with limited financial and human resources. The political situation in northern Kosovo (Mitrovica region) remains complex and it lacks many fundamental services in the fields of child protection, education, health and justice for children. Adolescent boys and girls are negatively impacted by an inadequate child protection system, lack of implementation of legislation and law enforcement structures, as well as violence that often goes unreported.

A child smiling during one of UNICEF's home visits.
UNICEF/UN040796/Mucaj
A child smiling during one of UNICEF's home visits.

48.6% of children (aged 0-19) live in poverty and 18.9% of children live in extreme poverty. More than 60% of Roma, Ashkali Egyptian children live in absolute poverty, and over 30% in extreme poverty.

Kosovo has one of the highest poverty rates in Europe, though the situation is improving slowly: in 2007, 45 percent of the population was living below the poverty line and 14 percent were extremely poor whereas by 2011 the World Bank reported it had decreased to 29.7 percent (1.72 Euro) and 10.2 percent respectively (1.20 Euro). Poverty is concentrated in rural areas (31.5 percent) but only marginally better than in urban areas 26.7 percent, and highest among large families suffering from high unemployment and low education levels.

About 14% of children age 36-59 months attend early childhood education in Kosovo.

Based on the recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) data, only about 14% of children between the ages of 36-59 months attend early childhood education (kindergartens; community centers) in Kosovo, with too many children missing out on their right to have their abilities developed early, meaning they arrive in school with an inadequate learning foundation. Only 6% of children had fathers engaged in activities to promote their learning and school readiness. Only three quarters (77 percent) of children from the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities are developmentally on track in at least three of the following four domains: literacy-numeracy, physical, social-emotional, and learning, while the value is 83% for the main population.

An 8 year old girl from Fushe Kosovo, benefits from inclusive education pogramme.
UNICEF/UN040802/Karahoda
An 8 year old girl from Fushe Kosovo, benefits from inclusive education pogramme.

79% of children 24-35 months old are fully immunized according to the Kosovo immunization schedule. Among Roma, Ashkalia and Egyptian communities immunization coverage is 30%.

Child health indicators in Kosovo are still among the poorest in the Region, pointing to gaps in both access and quality of healthcare. Data indicates the need to strengthen the equity- focused policy action to address all the main dimensions of Child Health Development and Wellbeing: maternal, newborn and child health; early child development; early education and child social protection. Children, poor people and other vulnerable groups have difficulty receiving the health related services they are entitled to.

Infant Mortality Rate is estimated at 12 per 1,000 live births, while among Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian children is three times higher, estimated 41 per 1000 live births.The under-five mortality rate: 15 deaths per 1,000 live births in the general population, and a rate of 49 deaths per 1,000 live births in the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities.

Only 73% of girls and 88% of boys from Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities complete primary education.

In Kosovo, 98% of children of primary school age are attending primary education, while only 85% of children from Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities do the same. Only 68 percent of primary school age children from Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities in Kosovo enter the first grade on time, and 54 percent of children from Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities in Kosovo are ready for school. Even more children from Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities are lost in the transition to secondary education (MICS 2014). Very few teachers are of Roma, Ashkali or Egyptian origin, while administrative data on Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian children are scant and sometimes even conflicting. Inclusion of children with disabilities is not yet up to the mark and disability therefore remains a major barrier to access education. 

61% of children age 1-14 years in the main population experienced psychological aggression and physical punishment as disciplinary measures, as compared with 71% of children from the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities (Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys).

Violence against children in Kosovo remains largely invisible – both the practice of which and silence surrounding it are perpetuated by social beliefs and norms. 

Until recently there was no strong data, but anecdotal evidence suggested that child marriage existed in Kosovo and that its prevalence is considerably higher in the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian population. The MICS confirmed that among the general population, 10% of women and 1% of men of ages 20-49 years were married or in union before the age of 18, while for the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian population this was 43% and 14% respectively. Under the age of 15, in the general population the percentage of marriage is below 1%, whereas among the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian women almost 12% were married before reaching the age of 15.