12 Days before Kosovo’s election, UNICEF calls for one winner: children
With only 12 days to go before Kosovo’s 2021 election, UNICEF’s Head of Office to Kosovo, Murat Sahin, reminds all Kosovo’s political parties that putting children at the center of their platforms and programmes will be a winning strategy. Children do not vote but their families do. The outcome of this election can have a critical impact on children’s lives today, so Kosovo can greatly benefit tomorrow.
Although children have not been at the core of the health effects of COVID-19, the crisis has profoundly affected their lives and wellbeing with the interruption in essential services and increasing poverty and inequality. The pandemic will impact children’s lives for years to come, even after the vaccine is rolled out. Unless Kosovo urgently puts children at the center of decision making and priorities, much of the potential of this generation of children and young people may be lost.
Despite the progress made over the past years, a large proportion of children in Kosovo lack opportunities for development and face multiple deprivations. The latest data highlight that for every 1,000 live births 16 children die before reaching their fifth birthday, 23 per cent of children live in poverty, 85 per cent of children aged 3-4 years do not attend any early childhood education programmes and about one-third of young people aged 15-24 years are not in education, employment or training. Budget allocations in health, education and social services are amongst the lowest in the region. In 2019, out of overall public expenditures, only 11.6 per cent were spent for pre-university education.
UNICEF calls on all political parties to put children at the center of priorities and ensure:
A best start in life for every child: increase investments to support children in the first 1000 days of life, by bridging the contact of families with health workers for adequate child health care, positive parenting and caregiving, during the critical period of a child’s life where the most rapid development of the human brain builds it foundations for health, well-being and achievement.
Getting ready for school: increase budget allocations for universal early education as a strategic investment that guarantees a significant return. Creating opportunities and programmes for early childhood development and education is a twofold accelerator that contributes to increased female labour force participation and economic growth.
Keeping schools open: no efforts should be spared to keep schools open for children and ensure continuous learning for all. The net benefits of keeping schools open outweigh the costs of closing them, and with human capital as its greater asset, Kosovo cannot afford a lost generation.
Increased investments for young people: the large proportion of young people provide a tremendous potential for Kosovo, but only if adequate investments are put in place. Increased budget allocation is critical for quality education and for providing all young people with a second chance in life through experiential learning aligned with labour market needs.
Inclusion of children with disabilities: prioritize investments to dismantle all barriers for children with disability by providing adequate and timely access to health and rehabilitation services, assistive technologies, transportation and teacher assistants to facilitate an inclusive education and a physical barrier free society.
A decent life for every child: accelerate the social protection reform to reduce the equity gap and implementation of the Law on Child Protection to ensure all children are guaranteed with their fundamental rights and are protected from violence, abuse and exploitation.
UNICEF is committed to work closely with all partners to advance and advocate for the protection of children's rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential in life.
- Kosovo Agency of Statistics and UNICEF. 2020. 2019–2020 Kosovo Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey and 2019–2020 Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian Communities Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, Survey Findings Report. Prishtina, Kosovo
- World Bank and Kosovo Agency of Statistics, Consumption Poverty in the Kosovo, 2012-2015, Pristina, April 2017.
- Kosovo Agency of Statistics. Labour Force Survey Q3 2020
- Ministry of Education and Science. 2019-2020 Annual Statistical Report with Education Indicators.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.