Economic pressures on families and high unemployment levels push children out of school, especially amongst Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities.
One of the biggest challenges facing the education system in Kosovo is lack of quality education provision and poor learning outcomes among students.
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.
There is also no clear accountability system in place, with a murky division of labour between local and central level institutions that hamper the implementation of legislation and policies.
As per the latest World Bank Human Capital Index a child in Kosovo can expect to complete 12.8 years of pre-primary, primary and secondary school by age 18. However, when years of schooling are adjusted for quality of learning, this is only equivalent to 7.7 years, which means there is a learning gap of 5.1 years.
In addition, during the 2011/12 academic year, only 33% of children with special needs were enrolled in education. This means too many children are missing out on their right to have their abilities developed early and arrive in school with an inadequate learning foundation. This does not guarantee the best interest of the child. In part this is due to the lack of coherent and coordinated actions between central and local authorities.
Ensuring equitable access to education and delivering quality education means moving beyond measurements of access to an approach that focuses on learning outcomes. Quality education means providing an inclusive space where all children are able to learn and realize their rights. In Kosovo, some children are still being left out of school system: Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian children; Children with disabilities; Pre-school age children; Returnees, and Over-age children.
The structure of education system in Kosovo is in compliance with international standards. It consists of nine years of compulsory basic education, which includes five years of primary education (normally starting from age six and lasts from grades 1 to 5) and four years of lower secondary education (grades 6-9), supplemented by three years of non-compulsory upper secondary education (four years for some types of vocational upper secondary schools). And while Kosovo has developed a strong policy framework with regard to non-discrimination and the creation of an inclusive society, children from vulnerable and marginalized groups continue to face significant challenges in development, education, protection, and participation.
Skills-based programmes as part of formal secondary school curricula.
We are engaging with the Ministry of Education for the accreditation and introduction of the UPSHIFT and PODIUM methodology into the existing formal curriculum of secondary education, a process which is set to be completed by end of 2019. This will contribute to more adolescents and young people becoming social innovators and entrepreneurs with fully developed critical thinking and media literacy skills.
Out of School Children Initiative and Prevention and Response to Students Drop out
The out of School Children and Prevention and Response Initiative works to reduce student drop out. Central and local authorities have been mobilized to increase the access to and retention in education for vulnerable and disadvantaged children in 30 municipalities (9 Municipalities in the first phase of implementation and has scaled up to 21 additional Municipalities) and the capacities of central and municipal officials and PRTAN [Prevention and response teams toward abandonment and non-registration in compulsory education] teams are being strengthened to reduce the number of out-of-school children.
Early Warning System has been developed and integrated within the Ministry of Education Science and Technology’s (MEST) Educational Management Information System (EMIS) and is being used at the school and municipal level in order to identify children at risk of dropping out from school.
164 PRTANs on out of school children and drop outs are fully functional in 9 municipalities while 129 new PRTANs in 21 Municipalities are being established and trained. 300 out of school and at risk of dropping out vulnerable children have been identified using the early warning system. Their cases are being addressed through Prevention Response Teams at the school level. Out of this number, 90 children have been reintegrated to school.
Inclusive education teacher training programme
UNICEF supported the development of an in-service Inclusive Education teacher training programme with emphasis on Children With Disabilities (CWD).
In coordination with MEST and Municipal Education Directorates, UNICEF has continuously supported the capacity development of teachers in 7 municipalities with 7 pilot schools through three Training of Trainers workshops with 3 Modules on inclusive education.
UNICEF strengthened the capacity of schools to apply inclusive education practices, focusing on the most exluded children including CWD (above 50 school teachers, school principals in 7 selected Municipalities). Inclusive Education in-service teacher training programme with emphasis on CWD has been Accredited by MEST contributing to system strengthening for inclusive education teachers preparation.
Prevention of violence in schools
A crucial aspect of ensuring schools are an inclusive and safe place for children is the reduction of violence against children in schools. UNICEF is working with stakeholders in the education system, the police, centres for social work and others to implement a violence protection protocol through a set of detailed interventions.
The implementation of the Protocol on Prevention and Referral on Violence in School initially started in 22 Municipalities and expanded in additional 10 new municipalities.
618 school managers were trained on the Violence Against Children protocol implementation. Around 40 cases were reported to case school registry with EMIS database for the school calendar 2015-2016 through integration of incident module report into EMIS
Quality Assurance of School Performance system strengthened
UNICEF supports MEST and the Kosovo Pedagogical Institute to develop a system for quality assurance of school performance as part of the quality assurance system of the pre-university education system in Kosovo with setting up new standard in the education system, such as self-evaluation of school performance framework. The new standard has established basic expectations for each school by defining the essential role of a school, characteristics of an effective school, criteria for evaluating the quality of school performance and the quality indicators of school performance.
The joint intervention continues to scale up and strengthen the Kosovo-wide institutional capacity development on application of the system for school performance. Capacities of more than 300 education officials in 132 schools in 7 Kosovo regions were strengthened for better management and accountability on quality of school performance. Furthermore, the Administrative Instruction on School Performance Evaluation Procedures was adopted in April 2017.