Providing quality access to ECCD services for children and their families through the ECCD centre in Gllogjan, Peja
In the National Development Strategy 2016-2021, the Government of Kosovo has recognised that increasing the inclusion of children in preschool institutions lays the foundation for better academic success later in life, decreases inequalities and increases human capital.
Based on the second round of the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) programme undertaken in 2020 in Kosovo, only 15 percent of children aged 3 years attend an early education programme in Kosovo, although quality care and early education are essential for child development. Kosovo has made improvements in terms of school preparedness, with the number of children aged 5 attending pre-primary education increasing from 76 percent in 2014 to 88 percent in 2020.
The Early Childhood Care and Development Situation Analysis shows that Municipalities lack harmonization of integrated health, education, and social services for children 0-6, while the 0-3 age group is seen as a target only for care services provided by nurses unequipped to provide a holistic program.
Following a successful implementation of the previous phases of the project, Save the Children Kosovo in 2020 and 2021 scaled up the support by establishing seven additional ECCD centres in rural areas providing access to ECCD services to all boys and girls from the villages of Nerodime (Ferizaj), Cërmjan (Gjakova), Zhegër and Përlepnicë (Gjilan), Gllogjan (Peja), Poslishtë and Gjonaj (Prizren).
Enhancing the quality of children’s lives in Gllogjan, Peja through the ECCD Programme
On 28 September 2020, Save the Children Kosova/o has established the ECCD centre in the village of Gllogjan, in the municipality of Peja. The village is located 25 km. away from Peja, thus, it is considered one of the most remote villages from the city. This drawback, made the establishment of this centre a high necessity considering that most parents/caregivers in the village were not able to afford the travel and enrolment costs of their children in private pre-schools.
There is a total of 22 children aged 3-5 years old enrolled in this ECCD centre, 9 boys and 13 girls.
When visiting the ECCD centre in Gllogjan, we had the opportunity to have a conversation with Bajram Kelmendi, Director of the primary school “Migjeni”. Children were in a very festive mood and together with their educator and the community mobilizer they have created many beautiful crafts, drawings and organized plays and recitals.
Given the registration of his two nephews in this ECCD centre, Mr. Kelmendi is considered to be a key beneficiary of the project. His input and perspective on the impact that the ECCD had in his community, was very valuable as he could offer the perspective of a school director as well as that of a grandfather.
As a director, Mr. Kelmendi sees the establishment of this centre as a huge step in equipping young children from his community with suitable knowledge, skills, and values with regard to early childhood care and education.
As a grandfather, on the other hand, Mr. Kelmendi has already seen a great benefit of ECCD services provided in the centre. “At first, I registered only one of my nephews – who is now 5 years old - in the centre but after seeing how much progress he made in a very short time, I registered my other 3-year-old nephew as well. I have carefully tracked their behaviour and have witnessed a great improvement”, said Mr. Kelmendi. Due to their nephews socializing and spending time with other children in the centre, they greatly reduced time spent using their phones and watching TV. In addition to that, Mr. Kelmendi claimed that they were much less quarrelsome toward one-another, and in contrast, they started socializing even more with one another.
“I also see an improvement in their communication skills and the language they use at home. They even criticize and correct the old-school terms that I use when I speak to them”, added Mr. Kelmendi.
This programme continues to prove the importance of a caregivers’ role on influencing children’s readiness for primary school. The interest from the community started to increase day by day with the assistance of the program team as well as field staff, and from the consistent enrolment numbers, we can see there hasn’t been a case of decreased interest from the community to partake in these ECCD services.
“Parents were very sceptical at first but after a time they started hearing very good words from other parents on the progress of the children who are registered in the centre, so they got convinced” – said Mr. Kelmendi.
Due to the mentality and taboos which were existent in the village of Gllogjan which prevented women to participate in parent gatherings, the interest shown by them to track their children’s progress was not as big. However, the establishment of this centre impacted positively in changing this pattern and way of thinking in the community, and contributed to caregivers being more involved in services involving early childhood, care and development.
While there we had the chance to also meet the community mobilizer, Albana Kabashi and the pre-school educator, Vesa Loma. They have both played a major role in persuading parents to register their children at the centre and to in raising awareness among the community as they strongly believed that such a centre, was more than needed in their village. They together plan appropriate play-based activities for children; use various teaching methods and strategies to support children in achieving learning goals while trying to equip them with the skills needed to play and work with peers, communicate with adults, and be aware of social customs within one’s community.
The school director agreed that early years are crucial in the formation of intelligence, personality and social behaviour, and he expressed his gratitude for Save the Children Kosovo, not only for enabling children to learn and develop from an early age but also for allowing parents and educators to attend different trainings, so that they can be better equipped with information and knowledge from local experts, and a better understanding as to why early childhood, care and development of their children is crucial.
“I highly appreciate the work that Save the Children has done so far, because I don’t think there was ever a more suitable programme in the field of education, as there is nothing better than starting to integrate children in education from early childhood.” – said Mr. Kelmendi
The community mobilizer in Gllogjan stated that the establishment of the ECCD centre is a necessity in every municipality, however, they need stable funds provided by the municipality to establish this outcome. As the villages are far from the main cities, enrolling children in such centres, strongly improves the lives of caregivers and children, reduces long-term costs and improves the efficiency and quality of primary education.
 Kosovo National Development Strategy, Kosovo Government, Office of the Prime Minister, 2016, http://www.kryeministri-ks.net/repository/docs/Strategjia_Kombetare_per_Zhvillim_2016-2021_Shqip.pdf.
Kosovo* (UNSCR 1244) Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey and 2019–2020 Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian Communities in Kosovo Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2019–2020,https://www.unicef.org/kosovoprogramme/media/1871/file/Kosovo%20MICS%202020.pdf