Registration, quality and equity
These gaps require urgent and sustained action to invest in ECD. But what can be done today to ensure that future generations of Kosovars can realize their full potential?
Enrollment in quality ECD services should be increased so that all families have the chance to access them. Kosovo is well placed in terms of opportunities. Even if the DPE enrollment rate is low, the system itself is diversified with public, private and community services. If intensified, the current balance between public and private provision could ensure the flexibility needed to respond to the country’s rapid demographic trends.
However, access is not enough: the quality of ECD is essential for child development. There are several ways to improve quality: creating and supporting quality assurance systems; improve teacher qualifications; continuous improvement of teacher skills, digital platforms for parenting, early identification of child development problems, high-quality learning environments that promote child development and curriculum modern based on science; and updated teaching and learning materials. The quality of daily teacher-student interactions is at the heart of quality and certainly needs more attention. A soon-to-be-published World Bank study found that educators do not sufficiently support children’s independent activities and struggle to implement a play-based curriculum.
Equity in ECD also needs to be improved. Today, children in rural areas of Kosovo are three times less likely to be enrolled in ECD services than their peers in cities where enrollment rates are the highest. Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities are also less likely than the general population to have access to children’s books: 4% of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian children own at least three children’s books, compared to 27% of the general population. And Kosovar children’s participation in ECD is radically unequal across socio-economic groups.
Progress to date
Today, Kosovo responds to the ECD challenge with a clear understanding of the issues. The country recently adopted the National Education Strategic Plan (NESP) 2022-2026, the new law on early childhood education from 0 to 6 years, and has developed detailed implementation plans for the NESP . The strategic documents focus on expanding ECD provision, which will ensure wider access to ECD services in Kosovo, reviewing and adapting new school curricula and investing in quality provision.
The World Bank has been supporting the country’s early childhood development sector for several years. Recent analytical contributions aimed at illuminating successful child development in Kosovo kindergartens include analysis of the situationAnd Economic memorandum of the country. “Children’s reading corners” are an initiative supported by the World Bank with the help of Early Learning Partnership support wider access to reading materials for the most vulnerable preschool children nationwide. Recently, one of the authors of this blog, Fadia Saadah, director of the Human Development Practice Group for Europe and Central Asia, visited Kosovo. Fadia helped distribute books to many new children’s reading corners, including the last of the 450 schools supported by this initiative.
The World Bank Group and Kosovo are currently preparing an investment project that will help implement a new ECD policy including health care interventions. This work will potentially mobilize the efforts of other development partners, such as UNICEF and the EU.
These efforts will help Kosovo build a stronger, child-centered ECD system for all and promote stronger human capital for economic growth today and for generations to come.