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Studying in Albania/Primary & Secondary Education
The primary and secondary education reforms and main issues

In 2004, the Albanian government launched a crucial reform in the primary and secondary education system, which started with the drafting of the National Education Strategy, which focuses on Primary and Secondary Education. The main areas of reform included the re-structuring and improvement of the Pre-University Education Curriculum, (changing the structure of the pre-university system into 5+4+3--5 years of basic education, 4 years of lower secondary education and 3 years of upper secondary education) Textbook development and overall capacity building and management of primary and secondary education.

Present Features of Primary and Secondary Education

In Albania, the Ministry of Education and Science has jurisdiction over 2125 public schools with 1749 primary schools and 376 high schools. They deliver tuitions for the 9-year obligatory system. High schools are divided into several functional categories, including General High Schools, Professional High Schools, Socio-Cultural High Schools, etc. Some schools combine primary and high schools complex into one complex. As an order of magnitude there are approximately 138 428 students and 7 780 teachers in the high school system and 450 582 students and 25 556 teachers in the primary system. The cities with the highest concentration of schools are Tirana, Shkodra, Elbasan, Vlora and Fier.
  • Increased number of pupils attending Professional and Technical schools and specializing in two branches: natural and social. This system developed after years of successful testing in General schools in upper secondary level of Education;
  • Increased number of new entrants in the Tertiary level of Education – particularly in the full time system, which meets the enormous education demands of pupils after finishing upper secondary level;
  • Improvement of schools and curricula;

The absolute number of kindergarten enrolment decreased in the nineties due to the falling birth-rate of those years, while it has remained constant in the last five years. The share of kindergarten children in the corresponding age group has continuously increased even though it is still low. At the end of 2005 ,51,1% of 3-5 year old children were enrolled in kindergartens against 37% in 1998.

In 2005, pupils enrolled (enrolling in 1st grade) in basic education were 467 thousand or 56 thousand less than 2001. The causes were the falling birth rate and the massive movements of the population especially emigration; in autumn 2005 only about 51000 children entered in school, while in 2002 it had been 63000 so for 3 years are 12000 less. In the year 2005 enrolment rate in basic education was 102,4%. The rate expresses the total number of pupils enrolled in this level in relation to the relevant group of population.

There is an apparent growth of the absolute number of pupils enrolled in the upper secondary level of education. General secondary schools host 82,9% of the total number of enrolled in the upper secondary level. Due to changes in curricula applied in the last years, the general secondary education is running into two directions of profilization: natural and social sciences. A positive trend is also developing in the technical vocational education due to increasing employment possibilities, although it still holds an ancillary position in secondary education.

Sources: http://www.instat.gov.al

E-School Programme

In 2006, the Ministry of Education and Science in Albania started another important programme for Pre-University Education System: the E-School Programme. The programme will provide 1749 elementary schools and 376 high schools in Albania with modern computer labs, preconfigured and installed on delivery by the end of 2008.The programme will also focus on training for teachers on ICT.

Find out more about the E-School programme at:

Issues in Primary and Secondary Education:

Primary school years
At a glance:

  • Almost one quarter of rural children who enrol in first grade fail to complete primary school
  • One quarter of primary school teachers are not qualified
  • The great majority of ethnic minority children do not attend school
  • About 3 per cent of gross domestic product is dedicated to education

In 2003, the net enrolment rate was 94 per cent. The great majority of children from minority groups (mainly Evgjit and Roma) do not attend school.

At a glance:

  • Enrolment in vocational secondary schools has fallen by 89 per cent, while in general secondary schools it has increased by 24 per cent
  • 40 per cent of employed young people have only temporary or occasional jobs
  • The percentage of juvenile offenders (14-to-18-year-olds) declined from 1 per cent in 1992 to 0.3 per cent in 2002
  • 2001 population census suggest that 20 per cent of the 15-24 age group has left the country

Source: http://www.uis.unesco.org/

Hidden Dropout in Albania

In Albania, the dropout student is defined according to the school regulation. Article 41 of the Albanian Law “Regulations of the Public Schools”, defines attendance with a penalty clause as such: “If the student aged 6-16 years, the age of compulsory school, is for no reason absent in school or abandons it, his/her parents are charged for law infraction with a fine from 1000 to 10000 leks. (Albanian Dropout Case Report -B.Musai, E.Boce).

On average, Albanian children complete 8.6 years of schooling, substantially lagging behind their counterparts in neighbouring countries, falling almost 6 years below the OECD average.

A sharp drop in pre-school attendance has been registered in recent years. Compared to 1990, in 2003 there were 60% less kindergartens in urban regions, and 49% less in rural regions. While pre-school attendance stood at 57% of 3-6 year-old children, the equivalent for 2003 was 44%.

While universal primary education has been reached, the secondary education (Grades 9-12) enrolment rate is low at around 50 percent. The regional disparities noted earlier are clearly reflected here as well: while the net secondary enrolment rate is 70% in Tirana, and 60% in urban cities, it is only 25% in rural areas, where about 85% of high schools have been closed down. Only 62% of 14 year-old children finish compulsory schooling in due time.

About 25% drop out from obligatory schooling, and this— together with the fact that some children are never registered at school—explain the resurgence of illiteracy, which was officially eliminated in the years before 1990.

The higher education enrolment rate, while on the increase, remains low at around 13%, and the system is generally considered to be only marginally responsive to the needs of a changing labour market. About 30% of academic staff has left the universities.

The vocational school system is also suffering from several problems, and is proving to be unattractive to students: only 7.3% of young people aged 14-18 years attend long-term schools from which they graduate with officially accepted professional qualifications.

The management of the education sector tends to be weak at both the central level, and at the level of the school itself. While the principle of decentralisation has gained common currency, hasty implementation has left the government without the management capacity to monitor developments, and with terms of reference for the different levels not clearly specified.

Source: http://www.http://www.unicef.org/albania/HDO_new_eng_2006.pdf

Find out more about the hidden dropout phenomenon in Albania:

Access to Education

There are important discrepancies between education in urban and rural contexts: schools in the former tend to be overcrowded, with over 50-60 students per class, and with many schools operating with double or triple shifts. Schools in remote areas, on their part, have very small student-teacher ratios, given the continued migration to urban centres.

This leads to the creation of so-called 'collective classes'—but teachers have often not been trained to teach in multi- Grade instructional environments. In the best of cases, the teacher divides the class into different age groups, and works with one group after another, with those who are not receiving the teacher's immediate attention waiting silently until it is their turn for instruction. In other cases, students end up being 'passenger pupils', who in effect sit through the class, even pass from one Grade to the next, without attaining the learning objectives set by the curriculum.

Regular school attendance and drop­ out rates are greatly influenced by indigence, by whether children are from urban or rural areas, by gender, and by ethnicity. Girls from poor rural backgrounds are among the most susceptible to miss out on their schooling, particularly when they attain puberty. Other at-risk groups include Romany and Evgjit (gypsy) children, whose average schooling is respectively 4.02 and 5.05 years. An estimated 32% of six- to eighteen-year-old children are involved in child labour.

There is very little in the way of catering for the special needs of around 12,000 children with disabilities, with the state offering services to only 9.5% of them in residential care institutions, day care centres or specialised schools. Disabled children are not required to complete compulsory schooling.

Source: http://www.unicef.org/albania/HDO_new_eng_2006.pdf

Find out more about access to education in Albania at:

Education Excellence and Equity Project

Providing Internet connectivity and Information and Communication Technologies to all primary and secondary schools in Albania is an integral part of the national priority to address the problem of “digital divide” and represents a critical investment in human capital. In an increasingly technology-oriented world, the use, understanding and culture of ICT represent critical factors in creating a skilled workforce prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Effective ICT benefits all sectors of the economy and is particularly critical in countries where segments of the population are educationally disadvantaged or live in remote rural areas, as is the case in Albania. The programme will provide 1,749 elementary schools and 376 high schools in Albania with modern computer labs by the end of 2008, connect all 2,125 schools to the Internet with fast and reliable technology, train all teachers of computer science and school administrators in using computer labs for teaching ICT and for managing education processes, provide well-developed ICT curricula for primary schools, revise and improved ICT curricula for secondary schools, ensure sustainable environment for computer labs operation and maintenance and provide local communities with access and benefits of computer labs in schools.

Source: http://www.undp.org.al

Find out more about the Excellence and Equity Project at:





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