Preschools Guidelines in Albania

(Save the Children, October 2014)

Albanian preschools and the process of analysis of the Early Childhood Care and Education system has been my first comprehensive analysis.

I just made a presentation of the Guidelines for ECDC in Albania on behalf of Save The Children and have the perception that the system is starting to move in the right direction.

Preschool in Elbasan Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) is a (or the) fundamental boost for the future of a Country, moreover in Albania, where geographical, traditional and current issues are creating a mixture of happening rooted in the past but aiming at a better future.

Preschool education in Albania is not compulsory and refers to children aged 3–6. However, the Government’s vision is to mandate the last year of kindergarten by 2018.

The Albanian education aims are:

a) the education and upbringing of free and conscious individuals, participating in social life;

b) the acquisition of the communicative, expressive, logical and operational abilities and competencies;

c) the development of psychomotor, cognitive, emotional, social and moral abilities.

Preschool education, a shared function of the education system and local governmental units, is offered in public and private kindergartens and public schools (preparatory classes).

Preschool services were initially developed in the country during the regime. During the transition, there has been a significant limitation of public and private possibilities for children, that started to emerge significantly in the last 10 years.

The preschool education counts for a stable number of enrollments in the last years, however, it remains low in comparison with other countries in the region. This is related to low fertility levels, migration and attendance level.

The net enrollment rate is not satisfactory, as only 33% of children are attending a sort of preschool education (SABER Report, The World Bank, 2015).

The main reasons parents report as to why they do not send their children to preschool are that they believe their children are too young or they prefer to keep them at home. More than two-thirds of parents of children 3–4 years old who were not attending preschool thought their children were too young, suggesting that perhaps early learning experiences are not appropriately catered to the younger age group. Nearly one-quarter of parents of all preschool-aged children (3–6 years) reported that they preferred to keep their children at home.

Wide disparities between rich and poor exist in the sector. Only roughly a quarter of poorest quintile of Albanian children attends preprimary school, while 60% of children from the richest quintile children do. The gap in the prevalence of learning materials for children at home is even wider, with just 15.5% of Albanians from the poorest quintile providing learning materials at home, compared to 52.3% of the children in the wealthiest quintile. The gap in adult support learning is also substantial: 68.1% of Albanians in the poorest quintile supported learning, while 96.2% in the wealthiest quintile did.

In general, the process started by Save The Children Albania is trying to tackle the situation, offering a chance for a growing number of children to attend a quality early education, with the scope of raising both access and equity, starting by the awareness that Early Childhood Education offers all the children a good start in life.