Toy Libraries in Kosovo Help Children’s Development

Toy Libraries are a stimulating environment promoting early learning, and child development were established in Kosovo to increase the participation of Roma children in early education.

Toy Libraries were established in two schools in the municipality of Prizren – the second most populous city and municipality of Kosovo. The classrooms that were designated for learning center activities have been adjusted and redesigned to serve as Toy Libraries. In those classrooms, Roma parents can borrow high-quality educational toys and other materials – books, sound books, geometric shapes – for their children to use at home.

“Considering that during the day I am busy with household obligations, I spend up to two hours, 3-4 times a week playing with toys with my children. We also read books from the Toy Librarywith fairy tales and stories. In class, we read fairy tales twice a week, for one hour, according to the schedule planned for the use of the Toy Library,” says Elvan Galushi – a mother of two sons from Prizren. “Toy Library has had a positive impact on my relationship with my children. Through this activity, I have given my children and myself the time to learn and play together. Our family is unable to buy these toys because of the difficult economic conditions, and borrowing helped us a lot. My son has the opportunity to borrow his favorite toy and plays with them every day after school.”

So far, Toy Libraries have 85 members who are Roma parents and 87 Roma children aged 0-8 years. There are 397 toys and 12 books available in total.  KRAEEYN project has donated 149 of the items and also provided hygienic materials.

Reducing Digital Gaps for Children of Marginalized Groups in Kosovo

30 families from the Roma community in the Municipality of Gracanica, Kosovo received tablets from Kosova Education Center (KEC), the hosting organization of REYN Kosovo. This was done to protect children in emergency situations, support parents in the daily routine with children and stimulate children in the home environment, especially during and post COVID-19 pandemic.

Children who attend the pre-primary (preparatory) level of education as well as the first graders will use their tablets for online learning and doing other learning center activities.

“The Ministry of Education and Science failed to take into account the needs of students from the Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities when it started organizing distance learning. Furthermore, the Ministry does not have data on the inclusion of students from these communities in online learning,” says KEC project manager Bora Shpuza Kasapolli. “The distance-learning broadcast started on March 23, 2020, where students in Kosovo attended home lessons through the Kosovo Public Radio and Television (RTK). Communities at the risk of poverty found it more difficult to attend school because of the new way of schooling online. While other communities had 3.4% absence, in these communities absence went up to 10%. It is clear that the pandemic has negatively affected the process of education, especially among the Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities.”

Because of no technological equipment at home, children could not communicate with their teachers. Many of them had to send their homework to the teachers over the parents’ phones. During conversations with the parents, KEC representatives found out that children like learning in school more than learning from home, due to the lack of technological equipment.

“In this regard, the provision of tablets was necessary and very useful for providing access to technology and increasing the participation of children from Roma, Egyptian, and Ashkali communities in the learning process. Having access to information and communications technology, it enabled them to re-establish connections with their educators and attend the education process on a regular basis, ensuring the continuity of academic development. It also helped them maintain relationships with their peers, which is a crucial factor for psychosocial wellbeing,” continues Bora Shpuza Kasapolli.

Beneficiaries have been selected by the local organization Balkan Sunflowers Kosova, also a member of the REYN board. This organization manages and directs the learning center in Gracanice, where curricular and extracurricular activities and various educational programs take place. Children who got their tablets also attend this learning center after school for homework assistance and other specific needs.

“Learning has become easier for our children because nowadays it is taking place online, so for us provision of tables has been very helpful. The tablets have enabled us as parents to spend more time with our children at home,” shares Miliam Jashari – a parent of a child who has got a tablet.

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Daniel’s Story from Kosovo Opened a Film Festival

The film “Daniel” about Roma children, made with the support of Kosova Education Center (KEC) – the hosting organization of REYN Kosovo – opened Rolling Film Festival in April 2021. This festival is Kosovo’s most appreciated bi-annual event for introducing other Kosovo communities to the Roma community, for supporting Roma artistic expression, and for providing a festive, dynamic, and transformative venue for combating stereotypes and promoting positive inter-ethnic relations.

The film “Daniel” is about the education, schooling, and everyday life of Roma children in Kosovo. The main character Daniel is a child of 11 years old. After the wedding day of his 14-year-old sister, he decides to run away from home with his 8-year-old younger sister Berfina. In this way, he wishes to save her from the same fate as her sister’s. The target of children is the capital city, and their journey is very difficult.

“The film contains many issues that Roma community, unfortunately, has to face in Kosovo: early marriages, school dropouts, poverty, and survival,” says Hana Zylfiu Haziri, Kosova Education Center Program Manager. “All these topics that are addressed in the film show the difficulties and complicated situations that the Roma community is facing on a daily basis. On the other hand, these episodes in the film make the audience reflect and think about how much support they need morally and financially from others.”

Since KEC and the creators of “Daniel” wanted the film to be released in the best possible way so that a wider audience could be able to watch it, the Rolling Film Festival was an excellent opportunity to do it.

The festival was held in the Kosovo cinema center “KINO ARMATA” with a limited number of participants due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The rest of the audience had the opportunity to watch the movie through the online platform –

In the future, Kosova Education Center will use this film to encourage the debates on educating vulnerable communities, in conferences, webinars, advocacy campaigns, etc.

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Supporting ECD practitioners in Kosovo

- Blog | REYN Admin

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.

REYN Kosovo

Reyn Kosovo

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:

REYN KosovoGetting 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

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REYN Kosovo