Promoting and Supporting Inclusive Education in KosovoPublished: Mar 15, 2022 Reading time: 3 minutes
People in Need (PIN) is supporting the right to education for children with special needs and other vulnerable communities in Kosovo. Work in this region is inspired by a similar programme called Varianty promoting inclusive education in the Czech Republic. The project operating in Kosovo, Education for all, is funded by the European Union and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.
One of the children benefiting from this program is Arti, who was born with Down syndrome. Through PIN’s Internship Program, Arti can now enjoy learning in the classroom with the support of teaching assistants.
Arti is proud to show off his homework and how he packs his textbooks for lessons. His mom, Florentina, tries to help him, but he insists on doing it himself. Florentina used to assist Arti at school; it was a full-time job for her. However, that has changed recently. Thanks to the project Education for All, Arti is being supported by teaching assistants. “I’ve only worked with letters and writing with Arti, but together with the assistant, he is now learning maths as well. I taught Arti to count from 1 to 10 but now he can even subtract and add numbers,” Florentina says. Of course, she also enjoys having more free time for herself.
Currently, Xhennete Shabani supports Arti as his teaching assistant. She is an intern working at the “Daut Bogujevci” school, and she was selected and trained as part of the project. “Arti is an adorable child. He can distinguish between different concepts, knows how to express his emotions from an intellectual, social, or personal aspect, and is quite independent. Arti knows how to work with groups, and can adapt to any task he is given,” Xhennete explains. She is from the Ashkali community and has experience supporting vulnerable children.
Three groups of 42 interns have participated in the programme, working in different roles such as Psychologist, Speech Therapist, Teacher Assistant, and Pedagogue in the 8 beneficiary schools and two learning centres. At the end of 2021, interns had supported approximately 230 children with special needs and children from vulnerable communities.
Arti´s teacher, Haxhere Reqica, appreciates the help of interns every day: “I have great cooperation with them, and besides Arti, they are willing to help any child that needs additional support. The interns are sometimes present in the classroom and sometimes they take children to the library. I have a high number of children in my classroom, and I often cannot dedicate my time properly to them.”
Haxhere Reqica also participated in the Inclusive Education training for teachers to incorporate best practises from the Varianty - Education Program of People in Need in the Czech Republic. “It is a great opportunity to work together with our colleagues from the Czech Republic. Based on our fruitful cooperation, we are able to transfer Czech knowledge on inclusive education to Kosovo and to support partner CSOs in improving their capacities to help children with special needs and from vulnerable communities,” says Njomza Emini, the PIN project manager.
In total, over 150 teachers attended the Inclusive Education training and more will be trained throughout the duration of the project. The capacity of key stakeholders to provide high-quality services and inclusive education also improved.
The project “Education for all – Fulfilling the Rights of Children and Adolescents with Special Needs and from Vulnerable Communities,'' is funded by the European Commission – European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) and is co-financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. It is implemented by PIN and two local partner organisations – The Ideas Partnership and Autizmi Flet – in six municipalities of Kosovo. These municipalities include Prishtinë/Pristina, Gjilan/Gnjilane, Fushë Kosova/Kosovo Polje, Graqanicë/Gracanica, Lipjan/Lipljan, and Obiliq/Obilic.
This programme is an innovation for the education sector, as services such as speech therapy were not previously offered in the public schools of Kosovo.