Basic education sector development
Title: Capacity development in the basic education sector in Kosovo (CDBE)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST)
Project term: 2019 to 2021
Since Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008, the country’s education system has been subject to extensive reforms. However, their implementation has been delayed for various reasons, some of which are mutually reinforcing. The education sector is underfunded, and the existing budget is inefficiently allocated. There are considerable shortfalls in resources, professional skills and capacity at all levels and the quality of education is extremely low. Kosovo’s first-time participation in PISA 2015 (Programme for International Students Assessment) has ranked the country among the last three countries of 72, showing that Kosovar students lack critical thinking, problem-solving and creative skills.
The deficits in the education sector can be attributed to many different factors. One of the main problems is the low quality of teaching. Teachers do not receive sufficient training to give children and teenagers the practical skills they will need in their daily lives. The special educational needs of children from marginalised groups are not sufficiently addressed in the formal education system. The importance of education for the development of Kosovo is not given due recognition, as education is not treated with the appropriate level of priority. The deficiencies in the basic education system have dramatic consequences for all subsequent levels of education, and hinder the country’s economic, social and political development.
The preconditions for the provision of inclusive and qualitative education in Kosovo have been improved.
The project takes a systematic, multilevel approach to tackling the core problems in the basic education system. It covers four fields of activities:
- Transparency, accountability and public participation: In order to improve the quality of education and to support the implementation and rolling-out of the Integrated School Development Approach (see field of activity 3), the project supports the work of key stakeholders such as the Ministry of Education, the Parliamentary Education Committee and the Collegium of Municipal Education Directors. The main objective through this support is to strengthen the legal basis of the education system, to enable inclusive participatory processes and to increase public participation through a public campaign.
- University education of teachers and school directors: In order to guarantee sustainability, the project supports the institutionalisation of previously developed trainings into the education system. Therefore, the project strives for integrating successful models of professional development for teachers and school directors into the regular university curriculum. Furthermore, the pre- and in-service training capacities of universities and faculties of education are strengthened to better prepare future teachers.
- Integrated School Development Approach (ISDA): Compared to other countries which perform better in the education sector, a shift in paradigm is needed. Analysis deriving from PISA results has also shown that teachers – apart from a basic lack of subject knowledge – have remarkable gaps when it comes to subject-independent didactics that lay the foundation for any student’s learning. In order to increase the quality of teaching and learning and the overall performance of the school, different interventions need to be combined focusing on the respective school needs and characteristics. This core intervention of the project is defined as the Integrated School Development Approach, aiming to promote a shift in paradigm and to strengthen the role of each school actor. In so doing, they are able to perform at their best in their foreseen tasks, coordinate among and collaborate with each-other, in order to increase the general quality and educational inclusion. This will result in a higher general performance of the school and in a healthy and safe school climate. Through this approach parents and pupils are given more opportunities to voice their opinions, and children and teenagers are prepared for participation in student representative councils. School networks act as learning communities that encourage the sharing of experiences between teachers and foster mutual learning. An integrated planning system supports the coordination of activities and budget planning and facilitates the communication between schools, municipalities and the ministerial levels. The approach will be implemented in the so-called “champion schools”.
- Promoting inclusion, particularly for ethnic minorities and returnees: Additional non-formal educational offers facilitate the access to the formal school system for the children of returnees and members of ethnic minorities, especially the Roma, Ashkali and Balkan Egyptians. As teachers, parents and municipalities become more involved, the social cohesion in the host communities grows. Extra lessons will help children who have missed a lot of schooling to catch up. In this regard, the project cooperates closely with civil society organisations.
The following results were reached during the first three phases of this project (period: 01/2010-03/2019):
- Around 1,200 school principals and senior teachers have completed management training courses which have improved the planning processes in the schools. So far more than 98 per cent of the pilot schools have approved school development plans that meet the defined minimum criteria.
- More than 4,500 teachers have taken part in various training modules for teaching mathematics, natural sciences and student assessment with most of them attending several courses. Systematic teaching observation shows that they can apply 70 per cent of the new skills and methods in their lessons.
- 21 learning communities involving over 100 schools are benefitting from intensive exchanges and functional committees.
- The education strategy supported by the project for the years 2017 to 2021 implements national targets and concepts for the education sector and draws together the discussions and commitment of all stakeholders. The project is contributing to 7 out of 48 measures with more than 40 activities.
- Through the education campaign, 130,000 signatures were collected with the aim of increasing the awareness of policy-makers in making education a priority. As a result of this campaign, the overall budget for the education sector has been increased by 12 per cent for 2019.
- More than 70,000 children have benefitted directly from the project support on educational reintegration of returnees and ethnic minorities.
- Ten champion schools from seven municipalities have been identified through an open call.