Introduction blog IWitness field visit to Kosovo April 2016
Save the Children in Kosovo is looking forward to hosting the next group of IWitness visitors. The group will have the opportunity to see the impact they have on children in Kosovo, as a result of their hard work on the Soft Toys for Education campaign.
Mirjana Vasic, Project Officer for Programme Implementation, describes the work carried out to improve the lives of the most deprived children of Kosovo. The programme aims to fight discrimination and violence, improve the quality of education and build a culture of inclusiveness.
“Let’s create an inclusive, safe, child-friendly environment” is Save the Children’s motto and message in Kosovo, the poorest country in the South East Europe region. In Kosovo, nearly half (48.6%) of children aged 0-18 live in poverty. Children at greatest risk are those who live in households with three or more children; those aged 0-14; children of unemployed parents; children in households receiving social assistance; and children in households with low levels of education.
Many of these children come from the most deprived groups in Kosovo—the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian (RAE) communities—and children with disabilities. Violence against children is high, despite the fact that corporal punishment is banned by law in schools. In general, non-attendance is a problem among the RAE communities and drop-out rates are high in schools, especially among girls. This is due to poverty, discrimination, lack of access to safe and inclusive education, cultural differences such as early marriage, and low awareness on the importance of education.
Children with disabilities are also still denied many of their rights, experiencing a shortage of well-trained professionals and insufficient allocation of state resources. Only an estimated 10% of children with disabilities are benefiting from quality services including education, health and social services. The figure for the number of children with disabilities in the school system ranges from 4,500 to 5,000 (6.0 – 6.6%).
However, since 2013, the IKEA Foundation has been supporting Save the Children in its work to ensure a better quality of life for the most deprived children of Kosovo. This focuses on promoting the right to education and safe school environments for deprived children, especially children from RAE communities and children with disabilities.
This work was recognised internationally when Save the Children in Kosovo received a Zero Project Award for its work on inclusive education for children with disabilities. Our work was selected as one of the 99 most outstanding and distinguished innovative practices and policies, chosen for its positive impact on the lives of people with disabilities.
Save the Children, with the continued support of the IKEA Foundation until 2018, will help even more disadvantaged children overcome barriers to equality by giving them access to a safe, high quality and stimulating learning environment. Through our joint work, we will continue to positively change children’s lives in Kosovo.