By Albulena Zaimi, REYN Kosovo National Coordinator
Kosovo has the lowest attendance rate for preschool education in region. Whilst pre-primary education offered in elementary schools is free, costs of attendance in public kindergartens are shared between parents; there are also a number of private kindergartens operating in Kosovo with higher cost fee.
This is a relatively heavy burden for the average Kosovo family, with average monthly income ranging between 300 and 400 $. Community-based centers are another form of service for early learning usually used by Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian children. These centers normally use spaces in existing schools or community buildings and are operated by NGOs.
The children attend short daily sessions with a focus on pedagogical activities that are well tuned to children’s age and stage of development . There is very little reliable data on the operation of centers, but their sustainability appears to be a serious problem . People working with the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian children in the community centers come from the communities and with few exceptions most of them do not have the required education and qualification.
Established and launched in autumn 2013, the Kosovo Roma, Ashkali Egyptian Early Years Network –KRAEEYN strives to provide equitable access to early childhood education for children of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities up to the age of 6 through advocating for inclusion and improving the quality of provision.
More specifically the network is working towards development of skills and good practices, to establish effective partnerships and support capacity building of RAE and non-RAE professionals and paraprofessionals working with RAE children and their families.
KRAEEYN has its steering committee consisted of leading organizations in the country working in the ECD sector: Balkan Sunflowers Kosovo, Save the Children, Nevo Koncepti, Bethany Christian Services.
KRAEEYN has 10 institutional members and more than 60 individual members who are preschool professionals, paraprofessionals and practitioners working with Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian children in Kosovo.
KRAEEYN provides the following support for its members:
• Quality professional development opportunities for RAE and other ECD practitioners
• On-site support system for RAE and other ECD practitioners
• Capacity building of KRAEEYN members for advocacy
Up to date the following capacity building activities were implemented by the KRAEEYN:
“Getting ready for school” has reached 36 network members and was focusing on supporting the practitioners to establish an enabling learning environment in the community centers and at home. All the participating practitioners are applying the gained skills on monthly basis within their community centers reaching the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian parents and children. The members of steering committee have conducted over 20 monitoring visits and have provided direct support to practitioners through critical reflection and advices.
“Step by step training (basic level)”, was organized during January and February 2015 reaching in total 18 KRAEEYN members who will implement the learned practices in the day to day work and will be certified.
KRAEEYN has organized a two day workshop on advocacy reaching 12 members of network. The workshop focused on development of an advocacy action plan for the ECD in Kosovo with an emphasis on the local level. The advocacy initiatives will focus on awareness raising about the importance of ECD, institutionalization of the preprimary services provided by community centers and addressing the issue of discrimination in the classrooms.
It is expected that the implementation of the initiatives will start during March 2015