REYN Kosovo Chose Eight Ambassadors

Roma, Egyptian and Ashkali professionals and paraprofessionals and non-Roma professionals who work in early childhood development (ECD) with children and their families in Kosovo could become the Ambassadors of Kosovo Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian Early Years Network (KRAEEYN) – the hosting organization of REYN Kosovo.

The main idea is to promote the work of professionals who have expertise and who contributed to raising and improving the quality of education in these communities with a special focus on early childhood education at the national level.

The ambassadors were nominated by the KRAEEYN network in cooperation with its Steering Council – local NGOs at the country level – that develop and implement programs in the field of early childhood education.

“Professionals and paraprofessionals in the field had to fill in their personal and professional data in questionnaires that we created. So we had a database with early childhood development professionals from the Roma, Egyptian and Ashkali communities and from the non-Roma professional’s community who work in ECD with children and their families,” says Sofije Toska, project manager of Kosova Education Center (KEC), hosting organization of KRAEEYN. “Among the respondents, eight Roma and non-Roma ECD professionals and para-professionals were selected”.

The promotion of Ambassadors was done through their profiles, which contain a photo with a short bio which were published on Facebook page of the KRAEEYN network and Facebook of KEC.

All of these ambassadors are successful leaders in their community. Their role is to promote the work of the KRAEEYN network in their communities and beyond. They are also committed to contribute to every activity, objective and needs addressed by the KRAEEYN network.

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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