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Most of children from minority groups in Albania do not attend school

General Information

The Greek minority, Albania's largest, has deep roots in the country's two southeasternmost districts, Sarandë and Gjirokastër, in an area many Greeks call Northern Epirus. Estimates of the size of the Greek population in 1989 varied from 59,000, or 1 percent of the total (from the official Albanian census); to 266,800, or 8 percent (from data published by the United States government); to as high as 400,000, or 12 percent (from the "Epirot lobby" of Greeks with family roots in Albania).

Greeks were harshly affected by the communist regime's attempts to homogenize the population through restrictions on the religious, cultural, educational, and linguistic rights of minorities. Internal exile and other population movements served as instruments of policy to dilute concentrations of Greeks and to deprive

Greeks of their status as a recognized minority. Despite improvements in Greco-Albanian relations during the late 1980s and a significant increase in cross-border visits, reports of persecution, harassment, and discrimination against Greeks, as well as other minorities, persisted.

Smaller ethnic groups, including Bulgarians, Gypsies, Jews, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Serbs, and Vlachs, altogether accounted for about 2 percent of the total population. Persons of Macedonian and Bulgarian origin lived mostly in the border area near Lake Prespa.

The Vlachs, akin to modern Romanians, were most numerous in the Pindus Mountains and in the districts of Fier, Korçë, and Vlorë. A few persons of Serbian and Montenegrin derivation resided around the city of Shkodër. There were small Jewish communities in Tiranë, Vlorë, and Korçë; and Gypsies were scattered throughout the country.

The poorest areas of the country – both rural and urban -- are most strongly affected by insufficient availability of ECD facilities. For example in the Bathore area of the capital city of Tirana, (where an important Roma community lives) has only 2 public kindergartens, that are frequented by 228 children 3-6 years old, while the total number of children in this age and in this sector is estimated at 1,300 by the local director of the Education Sector. In the Bathore area a small number of ECD centres are being run by NGOs, especially the “Gardens of Mothers and children” implemented by Christian Children Fund and covering around 60 children. This implies that in the Bathore are 77% of children 3-6 are NOT attending kindergarten.

EC Albania Progress Report 2006

In the area of cultural rights, Albanian legislation recognises three national minorities – Greek, ethnic Macedonian and Montenegrin, and two ethno-linguistic minorities – Vlach and Roma. The Greek minority is the largest group, led by its cultural association Omoneia.

A spirit of tolerance in relation to minorities prevails. Protection of minorities has been recently placed under the direct responsibility of the Prime Minister. Albania has made some effort to create a legal framework to protect minorities, and it has provided schools and classes for certain minorities in specific areas. Albania recently signed the UNESCO Convention on the protection and the promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions.

However, implementation of the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities remains incomplete. Minority language education is not yet available in all areas where there is a demand. There has been little progress on the administrative use of minority languages, use of traditional names and access to media for minorities.

The lack of reliable statistical data on the size of minorities hinders the development of policies to protect them. The work of the Special State Committee on Minorities continues to be hampered by a lack of clear rules concerning its composition and mandate.

Albania has not signed the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages. There are an estimated 95,000 Roma in Albania. A National Strategy for the Improvement of Living Conditions of the Roma Minority is in place. Initiatives on labour integration, education and children’s registration have targeted specific Roma groups under the strategy. Regional information activities and discussion round tables have been held.

However, the disparity between the social and economic situation of Roma and that of the rest of the population is increasing. 78% of the Roma population is living in poverty and 39% in extreme poverty. Only 12% of the Roma are enrolled in secondary school, compared to a national average of 81%. The situation of the Roma community in Tirana has notably worsened in recent months. There are currently about 40,000 Roma people in need of social and economic support in Tirana.

The government's Roma strategy suffers from a lack of human and financial resources for implementation. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MoLSA) has allocated three civil servants to monitor its implementation. Five other ministries are involved in the implementation of parts of the Strategy (Ministries of Health, Culture, Education, Transport and Interior).

Public information on the existence and content of the Strategy remains weak in Albania’s twelve regions. The Roma community suffers from a lack of acknowledgement by local authorities in the regions of their situation and a lack of civil society organisations to represent their interests. Social factors and the mobility of certain groups make lack of access to education and health services, especially vaccination, a particular problem.

Weak or nonexistent birth registration of Roma children as well as lack of personal documents makes them particularly vulnerable to human trafficking.

Read the full report at:

The Situation of Children in Need in Albania

Albania is a country in Eastern Europe with a population of 3,087,200, some 1,397,553 of whom are children (the categories used for the statistics on children in Albania are 0-4, 5-9, 10-14, 15-19.)

The 1990s, called the transition years, were accompanied by far-reaching economic and social changes. Many of these changes have aggravated the problems of children; new phenomena have arisen that constitute a severe shock to the Albania reality.

When the Albania Parliament ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on 27 February 1992, everyone believed that this was the first step towards the gradual attainment of higher standards. But here we are, 11 years later, and the actual situation of the HR has changed little. Children, wherever they live, face the same challenges and suffer the same abuse, in some cases even more than before.

There are several government organs that are responsible for protecting the rights of children. The courts (at all three levels preside over all violations of the law committed by and against minors. The Committee on Adoptions was set up in accordance with a special bill, the Law on Adoption, which was passed by the Parliament in order to prevent the adoption, both in Albania and abroad, of Albanian children who, in some cases, were being sold or exchanged for organ transplants.

The Ministry of Justice is in charge of minors detained in prisons, whereas the Ministry of Minors is responsible for the children while they are under detention in the police stations. The Ministry of Labour is in charge of the financial support to children in difficult economic situations.

Today NGOs play an important role in defending and supporting the rights of the children. Another important source of aid is the family itself as the nest where the child develops. Although, in general, parents understand the need to protect their children and promote their development in the Albanian society, little is done to sensitize parents to their children’s rights.

Domestic laws and ethical codes in defence of children’s rights in Albania:
  • Albanian Penal Code
  • Penal Procedure Code
  • Albanian Civil Code
  • Civil procedure Code
  • Labour Code
  • Law on Undergraduate Education
  • Law No. 8153 on Status of Orphans
  • Law No. 7650 on The Adoption of minors from foreign citizens and amendments to the Family Code.

Social welfare institutions

There are ten social welfare institutions for children . Five of these are for children aged 0-3 (in Tirana, Durres, Shkodra,Vlora and Korca), two are for children aged 3-6 and three are for children aged 6-14. Where possible, children are placed in an institution nearest to their family home. At ages 3-6, children are moved to another institution; for many children this means moving to another part of the country. Inevitably, under this system many children come to live far away from their families and friends during their time in care. However, siblings are generally kept together.

Development centres for children with disabilities

There are five residential centres for disabled children in Albania. The centres provide care, therapy and education for children and young people with physical and learning disabilities and multiple disabilities, except for the centre in Tirana which covers learning and multiple disabilities only.

Institutions for deaf and blind children

An institution for 200 deaf children and 80 blind is located in Tirana and is under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education.

NGO-run institutions for children

There are a few small institutions for children in Albania that are run by NGOs An example is the SOS children’s village in Tirana, which is part of the SOS-Kinderdorf International movement. It provides long-term care in small family type homes for children who are orphans or whose families are permanently unable to care for them.

Services for children in need in Albania

At present, other than the provision of social assistance benefits for families in the most dire financial need, the state has only two main ways of providing for children in need: institutional care and adoption.

Social problems affecting children in Albania

Although the population of children in institutional care in Albania is relatively small, social problems affecting children are on the rise. These problems result from the political, social and economic changes taking place during this period of transition from a communist regime to a democracy and market economy.

Unemployment, parents’ migration from rural to urban areas in search of work, children being sent out to work both within Albania and abroad, an increasing crime rate, an increase in family breakdowns, divorce and remarriage, and an increase in children being born outside marriage are all social problems affecting the lives of children.

Over 38% of the 8th grade pupils are forced by their families to leave school and begin work. Others leave school because their families are involved in a blood feud.

Juveniles in Albanian prisons

The report of the centres for children’s rights in November 2000 describes the situation of juveniles in Albanian prisons and the need to safeguard their rights in accordance with the United Nations Conventions on the Right of the Child (CRCA). The results are as follows:

  • Physical ill treatment is used to punish juveniles in the prisons of Vaqar.
  • The Ministry of Justice and General Directorate of Prisons has failed to take the best interest of the child into consideration. Juveniles lack the right to schooling while in prison.
  • There are incidences of child abuse from adult prisoners.
  • There are no activities for juveniles in the prisons.
  • The prisons have no specific programmes for juveniles in prison; there are no psychologists or social workers to assist the children.
  • The medication given to the juveniles in prison is often out of date.
  • The meals given to juveniles are deficient in quality and quality.

Roma children in Albania

Some 98% of the population in Albania are ethnic Albanians; the remaining 2% are ethnic Greeks, Macedonians, Montenegros, Serbs and others consisting mainly of Vllacks and Gypsies. The two Roma NGOs in Albania – ‘Amarodrom’ and Amarodiks’ – estimate that there are over 120,000 Roma currently living in Albania.

Roma families, in contrast to the Albanian population, tend to have very large families and bear their children at a young age. Many of these children live in severe conditions of poverty. Roma children are becoming adults before their time and the Roma population in Albania is discriminated against. Roma children are being denied the right to being educated in their own language. There is need to implement new laws to protect minorities and the under-privileged in Albania.

National strategies for children in Albania

In March 2003, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection proposed the ‘National
Strategy for the Interim 2002-2007’. At present, the quality of the resources, training etc varies considerably from one institution to the next.

It appears that the institutions farthest from Tirana or those that do not receive as much support from the NGOs have less staff training and have fewer opportunities for consultations. There is a need to amend existing legislation and introduce new legislation in the following areas: Adoption Law, Law on Social Assistance and Social Welfare and a new Family Code.

Source: http://www.children-strategies.org/


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