‘EU4Schools ’—early education investment for children and the society

Eni’s mother can’t be happier that her little daughter will very soon go back to her completely renovated kindergarten. She is excited as she believes her daughter’s first learning experience will determine her attitude toward school for years to come.

“I saw the design on paper and have continuously checked the work progress at the kindergarten, and I am pleased to see that plans on paper, materialized into a tangible reality. This is a very good start for my daughter’s education. I have talked to other parents, who can’t wait to send their little kids back to this new and modern facility,” says Anila.

Parents, teachers, community members were consulted on the new education facilities from the get-go

“The old kindergarten was not friendly enough to serve the needs of children with disabilities. The new facility is fully accessible, which makes a world of a difference for those children. The old kindergarten lacked proper lighting. During the consultations, we suggested enlarging the windows to allow natural light in. Children are like flowers, they need sun and light to bloom,” says Lorena Firzja, a teacher at ‘1 Qershori’ Kindergarten in Durres.

Children in Durres, can’t wait to go back in the new kindergarten

“After the earthquake, we moved into the municipality’s Social Services building to ensure that school won’t be interrupted. During the consultations, we asked the ‘EU4Schools’ Programme to build a children’s playground, as it greatly contributes in children’s education and growth process,” says the Director of the Kindergarten No. 2 Elida Cela, located in Kruja Municipality.

Many education facilities suffered damages from the Nov. 26 earthquake which greatly put children and teachers’ lives at risk.

“The early years are essential for children’s prospects concerning education, employment and integration later in life. Early childhood education and care lay the foundation for further learning, thus making this EU investment a beneficial one regarding the education of young generations in Albania. We all need to consider childhood as a unique phase of individuals’ growth,” says Donika Voskopi, the Director of Kindergarten No. 1 in Varosh.

Many of the facilities enjoy the space, but not the infrastructure, to offer school children dedicated spaces to learn, practice and play during the day.

“High-quality infrastructure is essential to improving education outcomes and giving a fair start to all pupils, especially those coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. During the recently held consultations, I recommended the design that included a playground and a better system for letting natural light inside the classrooms,” said Agron, a member of the Bilaj School Board, located in Fushe-Kruje.

Agron is a member of Bilaj School Board

These are but a few voices coming from communities of earthquake-affected areas.

‘1 Qershori’ and No. 1 Kindergarten in Varosh are part of the ‘EU4Schools’ pool of education facilities under reconstruction — all made uninhabitable after the 26 November earthquake of 2019, took a heavy toll on human lives, homes and public buildings.

58 education facilities will benefit from the EU’s investment of EURO 75 million — a tangible and noble act of support benefiting the country’s youngest generations. The Programme is implemented by UNDP, which has also invested EUR 765,000 to the Programme.

Creches and kindergartens take up 41% of the total budget for the repair and reconstruction of education institutions heavily affected by the November 26th, 2019 earthquake.

In repairing and reconstructing the facilities, EU4Schools combines two approaches: #BuildBackBetter and #BuildBackTogether, which mean the new facilities are fully compatible with Eurocode 8 for greater resistance to earthquakes, meet EU standards concerning quality and put the needs of beneficiaries at the core of the reconstruction methodology, thus guaranteeing a greater level of transparency and accountability in the process.

The new facilities will have full access for children and pupils with special needs, adequate lighting, central heating system, low carbon emission, as well as eco-friendly, green and appropriate hygienic and sports facilities, often missing in Albanian education institutions.

18 kindergartens and creches located in the municipalities of Durres, Shijak, Kamez, Kurbin, Kruje and Rrogozhine, where approximatively 180,000 beneficiaries live, will be rehabilitated under the Programme.

Soon, around 3000 children and 150 educators will benefit from renovated facilities that promise to greatly improve the learning experience for Albania’s new generation. Human rights underscore that children have the right to affordable early childhood education and good quality care, a right which later can greatly benefit society as a whole.

249,333 citizens will directly benefit from the ‘EU4Schools’ Programme, while 20,000 students, school pupils, children and teachers will benefit from the newly repaired or reconstructed education institutions.