Kindergarten brings education to Roma children in Fier
Thirty three children from Driza in Fier are benefiting from pre-school education thanks to the UN Joint Programme “Empowering the Vulnerable Communities of Albania”. Since the opening of a Kindergarten in the village last December, Roma children have been enjoying daily classes; that have included a particular focus on developing Albanian language skills.
The Roma community in Driza identified the education of their children as their most pressing concern during an assessment of the community’s needs conducted by the UN Joint Programme, Qender Commune and local residents in earlier 2009.
Consequently, the construction of a kindergarten was co-financed by UNDP Albania and Qender Commune as part of its commitment to extend the reach of quality basic educational services. The Kindergarten is surrounded by a large green environment where children can play safely, made possible by Qender Commune and the voluntary work undertaken by local community members.
The lack of access to preschool education has made it challenging for Roma children to receive the necessary exposure to the Albanian language. Consequently compulsory elementary and secondary education enrolment has remained low.
The 2006 UNDP study on the Social Vulnerability of Roma in Albania reveals that 55 percent of Roma aged 15 and younger are illiterate compared to only 2 percent of the non-Roma population. The 2005 World Bank study on Roma and Egyptians in Albania: From Social Exclusion to Social Inclusion reveals that 64 percent of Roma and 24 percent of Egyptians aged 7–20 have never attended school.
Ms. Drita Alushi, a teacher at the kindergarten said: “I help facilitate communication between the students and the head teacher as some of the children have had difficulty speaking in Albanian. Ms. Alushi went on to highlight: “It’s been very encouraging to see the steady progress all the pupils have made in improving their Albanian language skills since the beginning of the year.” Ms. Alushi concluded by commenting: “As a resident of Driza, it’s wonderful to see our children so happy and eager to learn.”
Ms. Zymbyle Manaj, mother of Ibro, one of the children attending the kindergarten highlighted: “Before being registered in the kindergarten, my son spent most of the time in the streets of our neighbourhood. I had to work in order to sustain my family and I used to see him only when I returned home. Ms. Manaj went on to note: “He spoke Albanian with difficulty, but now he has managed to learn many poems. I am very happy and reassured knowing that my son is in a safe place during the day.”
Following the success of the UNDP/UNV Joint Programme “Empowering the Vulnerable Communities of Albania”, UNDP is now scaling up its support for the Roma community through a new joint programme that is being implemented by UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA and with the advisory support of UNHCR and UNV in partnership with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The intervention lasts for 3 years and has a total budget of 2.7 million US Dollars, with funding from the United Nations Human Security Trust Fund, financed by the Government of Japan.
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