Tirana, 26 May 2015 - The Children’s Human Rights Centre of Albania (CRCA) made public today the results of the study “Access of Roma Children to Early Childhood Services in Albania”. The study aimed to bring light into the situation of Roma children across the country by assessing the information already available at public institutions responsible for the provisions of early childhood education, basic education and health across Albania.
The study took place within the framework of the initiative “Every Roma Child in Kindergarten”, a joint action of UNICEF Albania in cooperation with CRCA Albania, YWCA Albania and Observatory for Rights of Child, funded respectively by Swiss Cooperation and Austrian Office for Cooperation and Development. The importance of the study’s results is a follow up of the data collected in 2011’s Roma Mapping.
Data collection was a joint-work with institutional partners in every municipality and commune across Albania.In total 256 public officials in 12 Regions of Albania were part of this massive exercise of mapping Roma children in Albania. Almost 400 questionnaires were distributed to the directors of crèches, kindergartens, schools and health centres, Educational authorities, Economic Departments at Municipalities, while 381 filled questionnaires were received from the study teams.
ACCESS OF ROMA CHILDREN TO EARLY CHILDHOOD SERVICES
The Study collected data approximately on 5,100 children or 75.2% of the Roma children population recorded by Roma Census 2014 (OSFA), or respectively for 46 children in crèches; 665 children in kindergartens;2625 children in basic education; and 2475 children in health centres.
Crèches:During the last 3 years the number of Roma children attending crèches has almost doubled. In total the findings report that there are 46 children attending crèches in Albania.
Kindergarten:Data from the Roma households in 2011 showed that there were 383 Roma children attending kindergarten, while in 2014 there were 665 children, 282 more children are attending kindergartens across Albania. There is a large discrepancy between available kindergartens in urban areas (316) compared to rural ones (1457), with a ratio of 123.4 children per kindergarten in urban areas where Roma families live and only 25.6% children in rural ones.
Schools:Only 61.4% of Roma children are attending basic education or 1 in 4 Roma children is not attending any form of education, despite the legal obligation to attend school. School attendance for Roma girls drops progressively from the end of the 1st grade of primary school by reaching its peaks when Roma girls start 2nd and 6th grade. Only 41.3% of Roma children attend regularly the basic education while the rest of the children are missing temporary or constantly at school. The study found that 36.2% of children are occasionally missing classes.
Health system: Almost 36% of Roma children have visited up to 10 times a health centre during 2014. 46.6% of children they had no records on how many times the child has visited the health centre. Some 61.7% of Roma children have received all the required vaccines while 10.5% of children have been partially vaccinated.
The study underlines that 1 in 3 Roma children attending crèches are reported as being intermittently sick. This high level of unhealthy children raises questions in relation to their upbringing conditions such as access to proper housing, food, heating, clothing, vaccination etc. Although Albania scores high in terms of Roma children who have been vaccinated yet there are many children that have not.
At national level, only 1.3% of Roma children have access to a meal while attending kindergartens when compared with non-Roma children. The meal provision is a strong contributing factor to kindergarten attendance from Roma Children. The findings and recommendations of this report aim to help the Albanian Government to design better policies for Roma children and their families.
Some of the main recommendations of the study focus on mapping of crèches in Albania as a necessity in order to evaluate if the needs for such services are met by Municipalities and to what degree; continues visits and ongoing evaluation reports on the living conditions of Roma children and their families shall be used to access the concerns related to their health and upbringing; need to open new kindergartens across all major cities and municipalities, not only for disadvantaged groups but for many other social groups that need to enjoy equal access to early childhood education; opening of kindergartens with meal provision as a priority for children’s integration; ensuring transportation for children living more than 10 minutes fare from educational institutions, etc.
The study “Access of Roma Children to Early Childhood Services in Albania” is a stepping stone for the second year’s implementation of Ministry of Education and Sport initiative "Every Roma children in kindergarten”, supported by UNICEF Albania is implemented in 12 regions of Albania by CRCA Albania, Observatory and YWCA Albania. The sustainability of the intervention will depend on the will to work at local level with every municipality where Roma community lives. Moreover it aims to work with all stakeholders at local and central level in order to advocate for quality early childhood education of Roma children. It will focus on working with parents and families in order to strengthen Roma community and youth and promote the full integration and attendance of preschool by Roma children.
For more information on the report, please download the report at http://www.sidalbania.org/romacom.html or in Pdf below.