The population of Kosovo is very young: One third is under the age of 15. The country faces great challenges in the field of pre-school education. A strong pre-school education system is vital for the country’s future development and its education strategy. In 2012, the Kosovo government introduced compulsory pre-school attendance with the intention of giving all 5 and 6-year old children access to good quality education. However, little progress has been made since then to achieve this goal. The greatest challenge is the quality of pre-school education. The main reason for this is the poor quality of training given to pre-school teachers.
Added to this is the fact that not all children have equal access to pre-school facilities. While in urban areas, many children attend classes, the attendance rate in rural communities is often low. In particular, there is also a discrepancy regarding the inclusion of children from ethnic minority groups. In the last school year, only 0.09% of the children in the kindergartens belonged to one of these minorities.
Good pre-school education is important, because the earlier children can experience learning, the better they develop their sense of self, their learning and social skills. Better quality and increased attendance are extremely important for children to enable them to realise their developmental potential.
An evaluation by Caritas Switzerland shows the existence of significant communication and information gaps at the Kosovo Ministry of Education. The relevant departments and their staff have so far performed their role to only a limited extent. The Ministry lacks an overview of the activities of all international and national pre-school actors in the country and has insufficient capacity and understanding to coordinate these. A good quality-assurance system is also lacking.
Caritas Switzerland has been engaged in the kindergarten sector in Kosovo for more than 10 years, always in consultation with the responsible authorities. During this time, several hundred teachers received further training, and in addition, more than 10,000 children gained access to improved tuition in well-equipped kindergartens in a child-friendly environment. It is therefore not surprising that the present project is based on a request by the Ministry of Education to Caritas Switzerland.
The Ministry expressed the wish for closer cooperation with the vision that in future, all children in Kosovo will be able to benefit from better quality pre-school education based on Caritas Switzerland’s approach. The aim of this project is to pass on Caritas Switzerland’s many years of experience to local institutions in a sustainable way.