Improving basic education
Title: Capacity development in the basic education sector in Kosovo
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST)
Project term: 2010 to 2018
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 deployed. There are considerable shortfalls in resources, professional skills and capacity at all levels and the quality of education is extremely low.
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. Children from disadvantaged population groups are not sufficiently included in the system. The importance of education for the development of Kosovo is not given due recognition, as education is treated as a marginal issue. 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 quality of basic education is improved.
The project takes a systematic, multilevel approach to tackling the core problems in the basic education system. The activities cover four areas:
- Transparency, accountability and public participation: Data on the education system is evaluated using international educational indicators and published every year in official education reports. In order to improve the quality of education, the project supports the work of key stakeholders such as the education ministry and the parliamentary education committee.
- Education management: School principals attend management training seminars. 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 activity and budget planning and facilitates communication between schools, municipalities and the ministerial levels.
- Improving the quality of teaching: In cooperation with private providers and universities, the project develops in-service training courses for teachers of mathematics and the natural sciences. National and international learning progress measurements are conducted increasingly to enable an appropriate and comparable assessment of the current performance level of the education sector. In 2015 Kosovo took part in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) for the first time; the results were made publicly accessible in a comprehensive report.
- Promoting inclusion, in particular for ethnic minorities and returnees: Additional non-formal educational offers facilitate 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. The project cooperates closely with civil society organisations. The Internationaler Bund (IB Group) provides specialist support for the project.
Around 350 school principals have completed management training courses, which has improved the planning processes in the schools. So far 143 out of 148 pilot schools have approved school development plans that satisfy defined minimum criteria.
More than 1,000 teachers have taken part in various training modules for teaching mathematics and natural sciences, 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.
In all, 13 learning communities involving 63 schools are benefiting from intensive exchanges and functional committees. The national PISA 2015 report was prepared in cooperation with national and international experts. The education strategy supported by the project for the years 2017 to 2021 is implementing national targets and concepts for the education sector and draws together the discussions and commitment of all stakeholders.