UNICEF and University in Prishtina in partnerships with the European Union signed a new agreement: To improve access to mental and psycho-social health services for children

09 September 2021
Signing ceremony of the agreement between UNICEF and University of Prishtina
UNICEF/2021/S.Karahoda

UNICEF and the University of Prishtina "Hasan Prishtina" are pleased to announce today the signing of a cooperation agreement for the implementation of the partnership "Improving access to Mental Health and Psycho-social Services (MSPS) for children and families and assessing the digital ecosystem for continued online learning", generously funded by the European Union (EU).

Present at the launching ceremony today were the Acting Head of the UNICEF Office in Kosovo, Larissa Bruun, the Rector of the University of Prishtina "Hasan Prishtina", Prof. Dr. Naser Sahiti and Dario Di Benedetto, Team Leader at the European Union Office in Kosovo, Social Development - Cooperation Section.

The COVID-19 pandemic has often caused distress and negatively affected the mental health and psychosocial situation of children as well as their families, especially for more vulnerable children. At the same time, frontline child protection workers often lacked skills and expertise to address mental health and psychosocial issues. School closures widened the already large learning equity gaps as many children and adolescents missed out on education due to lack of internet access and technology, when learning moved online without much preparedness at the onset of the pandemic, including in terms of availability of adequate online platforms and skills among teachers.

At the launching event today, the Acting Head of UNICEF Office in Kosovo, Larissa Bruun, said: “This partnership will allow us to directly address some of the challenges caused by the pandemic situation through enhancing the responses of the Child Protection and Education system and ensuring that services are more equitable, inclusive, and meet the needs of the most vulnerable children and their parents. The partnership will generate knowledge on the impact of the pandemic situation on children and families and inform the provision of equity-focused services. This novel partnership with academia for child wellbeing will allow us to jointly explore ways to enhance results for children through evidence generation and response.”   

The new partnership forms part of a regional initiative in the Western Balkans and Turkey to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the lives of children and families, generously supported by the EU.

The aim of this partnerships signed with the Institute of Psychology of the University of Prishtina is to work especially on two key components:

  • Strengthen the capacity of social workers to provide online and offline child protection services, including mental health and psychosocial support for children and families during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Blended and lifelong learning approaches based on the assessment of the needs of the digital ecosystem, under monitoring and evaluation for effective programming in schools.

The Rector of the University of Prishtina, Prof. Dr. Naser Sahiti highly appreciates the contribution of UNICEF and of the European Union Office in this regard. He further stated that: "The University of Prishtina will show leadership and ownership as part of this partnership that aims to achieve common results in improving the situation of children and their families affected by the situation with the pandemic and following the pandemic."

Whereas, Dario Di Benedeto, team leader of the European Union Office in Kosovo for Social Development - Cooperation Section said that: “The project that we launch today, is part of a EU funded regional initiative, and complements the EU efforts to protect the most vulnerable groups in Kosovo in response to the effect of Covid. The EU welcomes this cooperation that combines expertise of two important partners of the EU, UNICEF, and the University of Prishtina, with the aim to protect the well-being of children and families during the pandemic and beyond.

This partnership launched today is expected to continue until December 2022 by the Institute of Psychology of the University of Prishtina, in collaboration with the University of Prishtina, Ministry of Finance Labor and Transfers, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education Science Technology and Information Municipal Education Directorates, Centers for Social Work, and Civil Society Organizations.

This partnership contributes to the wider UNICEF and European Union efforts through a Regional programme to support the Western Balkans and Turkey to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the lives of children and families.

Furthermore, the partnership with University of Prishtina is an added value for bringing the Academic synergy and leveraging collaboration between the central and local level institutions to enhance  response on continued essential childcare and education services for all children in need.

Media contacts

Dafina Zuna
Head of Communications
UNICEF Kosovo Programme

About UNICEF

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.

Follow UNICEF Kosovo Programme on Twitter and Facebook