Learning Materials for Disadvantaged Families Help Boost Early Childhood Development in Kosovo, with Support from World Bank

New Delhi: Children from disadvantaged communities and families across Kosovo have been provided books, games, and other home-based learning activities, as some 1500 packages were delivered to children aged 0-7, as part of the World Bank’s support to the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These home-learning activities are being complemented by newly developed video lessons, which will be broadcasted daily through a dedicated online platform, several local TV stations, and SMS messaging to approximately 50,000 families in Kosovo, as part of the Emergency COVID-19 Funding to Support Early Childhood Development.

“The World Bank considers investments in the physical, cognitive, linguistic, and socio-emotional development of young children – from before birth until they transition to primary school – as critically important for putting the country on a path toward greater prosperity, which, in turn, will help Kosovo become more productive and competitive in a rapidly changing global economy,” says Massimiliano Paolucci, World Bank Country Manager for Kosovo and North Macedonia.

The overall objective of the funding to support early childhood development is to ensure young children, aged 0-7, and their families are supported with services and information promoting development of young children within the context of the government’s COVID-19 response. The project is designed to target disadvantaged communities, improve parent awareness, develop coping strategies for caregivers, and provide interactive, play-based educational tips/skills for caregivers.

COVID-19 has brought additional challenges to early childhood development in Kosovo – which already suffers from low outcomes in this area. With less than six percent of children benefiting from pre-school education, Kosovo shows the lowest level of participation and quality pre-school education provision in the region and in Europe. Furthermore, pre-primary classes organized in schools cover only about 90 percent of children of ages 5-6.

“The first years of a child’s life are of outmost importance, keeping in mind the amazingly rapid development of children of ages 0-6,” says Labëri Luzha, Head of Pre-school Education at the Ministry of Education and Science of Kosovo. “With partners such as the World Bank, we are able to better support early development – not only of children who benefit from pre-school institutions, but also of children who get educated in their homes.”

The 1500 packages were distributed through local centers for social work in three different municipalities in Kosovo: Mitrovice, Fushe-Kosove and Shtimje. They specifically targeted the Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian ethnic minority communities, as well as other ethnic minorities enrolled in pre-primary and families benefiting from social assistance schemes.

This grant for Kosovo was awarded by the Early Learning Partnership managed by the World Bank. The World Bank program in Kosovo currently supports 11 projects in different sectors, totaling $281.6 million in concessional loans. The World Bank also supports Kosovo through grant funding and analytical work.