Early childhood development
This is due in no small part to the poor public expenditure on education—only 4.66 % of the GDP. In Kosovo, not all children enjoy their right to education.
In Kosovo, there is a lack of parental awareness regarding the importance of early learning, school readiness, and early childhood development. Social norms also prevent the establishment of inclusive education.
This is due in no small part to the poor public expenditure on education—only 4.66 % of the GDP. In Kosovo, not all children enjoy their right to education. Some enroll late in school and others drop out before completing their nine years of compulsory education.
Currently only 33.9 % of children between the ages of 3-6 years old, are attending an early childhood education programme, while the enrolment rate for the 5-6 age groups is 87.6%.
Access to early education programmes for children aged 36-59 months is very low (13.9%) compared to an EU average of over 80% and development-focused family practices are poor, leading to low child development indexes particularly for the cognitive dimension (literacy and numeracy): only 18% of children in Kosovo have a sufficient level of literacy and numeracy, with even lower indexes in Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian populations, where only 9% of children have a sufficient literacy and numeracy, with clear differences among those attending early childhood education (30%) and those not attending (5%).
All this translates, for many Kosovo’s children, into poor health, cognitive, social and developmental outcomes with lifelong impact on chronic health conditions as well as on mental, behavior and conduct disorders.
The aim of UNICEF’s education programme is to support the government in achievingS DG 4 by 2030 through improved planning and by addressing some of the systemic barriers that hinder the implementation of an effective education strategy.
“Investing early, investing in quality, and investing in equity
1. We are revising the preschool curricula with our strategic partner, the Ministry of Education Science and Technology, to ensure that every little child is enjoying the right to attending kindergarten.
UNICEF supports the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) to improve the quality of the Early Childhood Education programme. UNICEF revises the preschool curricula based on Early Learning Development Standards /ELDS (age 0 to 6) aiming to increase coverage and quality of services for young children, ensuring their best development, care and smooth transition from preschool to primary education. This intervention affects not only the well-being of children, but also the inclusion of specific populations, such as the poorest, children with disabilities, rural populations, ethnic minorities, and the most vulnerable.
With the goal of achieving progressive realization of children’s rights in Kosovo, UNICEF supported the Office of Good Governance and the Office of Prime Minister with the development of the Strategy and Action Plan on Children’s Rights which incorporated the component of the Early Childhood Development as a specific objective contributing directly to Kosovo’s National Development Strategy /NDS 2016-2021. The ultimate goal of this engagement is to provide early childhood development, early learning and school readiness including pre-primary education a good foundation and give children an opportunity to be healthy, learn and develop to their full potential. This will have long-term socio-economic benefits for Kosovo as it will have to more prepared, and ready-made workforce.
UNICEF has conducted a Costing Analysis Report introducing Universal ECD in Kosovo, providing recommendations of different applicable scenarios for funding and provision of Pre-Primary and Pre-School Education on a universal basis over the medium-term. This will ultimately result in an increased quality and quantity of public spending on issues affecting children, which in turn will ensure that every child is physically healthy, mentally alert, emotionally sound, and ready to learn.
2. With our partners at the local level, we have introduced Community-based Early Childhood Development Centres as an alternative form for Early Childhood Education.
Community-based Early Childhood Development Centres have been introduced by UNICEF as an alternative form of early childhood education for children in rural communities across Kosovo.
UNICEF continues to support 9 such centres located in the Mitrovica region, including in Serb-majority Municipalities. A similar model was adopted by the Prishtina Municipality, which has managed to establish 8 community-based kindergartens for children aged 3 to 6.
The benefit if these centres is four-fold: first, they specifically cater to rural areas where access to pre-school education is traditionally limited due to geographical barriers; second, enrolment priority is given to children whose families are part of the social assistance scheme; third, it is mandatory for all these centres to enrol children with disabilities and ensure a socially inclusive environment; and fourth, they ensure that all children feel loved, accepted, and are able to develop to their full potential.
3. We work with the most marginalized communities to ensure that no child is left out of the education system.
Together with our partners, we bridge the gap between services and non-majority communities like Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians, so that no child is left out of the system. We support children in the realization of their basic rights, such as access to health and education.
We are implementing the Home Visiting Programme in the Roma Mahala with the help of nurses from family health centres of Mitrovica Region. This is an equity-based healthcare and child wellbeing approach to further improve health and well-being of at risk children and the most vulnerable families, to build trust between nurses/social workers and communities and to strengthen municipal family medicine systems. The home visiting programme is bringing services into the home rather than requiring families to seek out services within health facilities. The programme plays an important role in reaching children under three years of age, and utilizes home visits to expand reach to all families including marginalized and young children, providing them with crucial support in aspects of child development. During home visits, families receive counselling on health-related issues, including immunization, breastfeeding, education and early stimulation, injury prevention, responsive and sensitive parenting and maternal health, including mental health.
We are supporting the social inclusion process of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian children through the implementation of the inclusive Portage methodology. This cross-sectorial intervention assess the developmental status of children and prepares individual plans for children in need for additional developmental support. Through implementation of Portage Porgramme individual help will be given to every child to stimulate cognition; motor and social skills. In addition, this programme that includes psychologists and other experts supports family members in diverse ways such as:
a) Guidance for parents to respond to children’s developmental needs;
b) Acquiring knowledge of existing service providers;
c) Accessing and utilizing of social protection services;
d) Ensuring the realization of children’s rights.
We refer cases to local authorities as preventive measures. Efforts to improve health, social and education services and indicators will be coordinated with establishment of strong network consisted of local authorities and other stakeholders to pro-actively advocate with local authorities to improve access to basic services for the vulnerable Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian children.
As a result, there is now a better identification of children and families in need of support, better school enrolment and reduced school dropout.