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USAID’s Basic Education Program aims to improve the capacity of Kosovo’s schools to provide relevant skills for its students.

Its overarching goal is to improve the Government of Kosovo’s institutional capacity in the education sector and improve the quality of primary education.

The bare statistics relating to Kosovo’s education sector indicate huge challenges. Kosovo is a young nation with a young population. Nearly 30 percent of its citizens are 14 years of age and younger. An estimated 40 percent of work-age people are unemployed. Schools are overcrowded and have multiple-shifts. When combined with the highest birth rate in Europe and rapid rural-to-urban migration, the resulting stress on pre-university schools in urban areas is intense. Education governance and teacher evaluation need improvement. In addition, there is a shortage of learning materials and equipment. Disparities in quality among municipalities lead to inequitable access to education. Differences in drop-out rates for girls and boys, and for students from ethnic minorities or with disabilities grow wider. There is a risk of youth disaffection unless serious improvements are made to the education sector. Kosovo needs to modernize its education system if students are to have an education that leads to employability.

The Kosovo Education Sector Strategic Plan 2011-2016 will address these issues. In particular, there are three recent developments in the education sector that we believe are key, strategic directions. These are: decentralization to schools and municipalities; a new Curricular Framework (KCF); and a new teacher licensing system. USAID’s Basic Education Program (BEP) will support these positive and forward-looking initiatives, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) and other donors.

USAID has identified key areas to strengthen the GoK’s education reform efforts and target the critical elements that Kosovo needs to build a 21st Century education system. When BEP is completed in 2015, USAID will have left a profound imprint on Kosovo’s educational system and the country’s future. Over that period, in partnership with the GoK, BEP will contribute to Kosovo’s entry into the European Union, achieve educational excellence through support for the educational reforms now underway, and help give youth the skills they need to succeed in a global economy. USAID seeks to align BEP activities to USAID’s evolving educational reform objectives, as well as global educational trends and EU standards.

In order to implement BEP, USAID has entered into a cooperative agreement with a global development organization – the Family Health International (www.fhi360.org), which will manage BEP on behalf of USAID.