VIENNA – Kosovo has a unique demographic and a window opportunity for capitalizing on it, which will be closed sooner than expected if no action is taken to make significant improvements in youth education and empowerment claims the newest Policy Brief “Kosovo’s youth: Overcoming challenges and creating opportunities” published within the “WB2EU” network.
The Policy Brief explains that in Kosovo, over the half population is under 30, but despite that, current key indicators relating to human capital development are very low. It added that young people in Kosovo demonstrate a clear willingness to become active citizens, but the education outcomes are the most concerning.
“Kosovo is often highlighted for having the youngest population in Europe, with 55% of its population under 30 and over one-third under the age of 18. Youth unemployment in Kosovo currently stands at 29%, with even higher figures among women, marginalized groups, and non-majority communities.”, highlighted the Policy Brief.
In the recent parliamentary elections, youth voted for inclusion and active participation, which needs to be the primary focus of the new government, and the only way to ensure sustained empowerment is through the education system notes the Policy Brief.
It also claims that “although there are many brilliant young Kosovars who have paved their own way to success independently of the existing systems, especially in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector, they are the exception, not the norm”.
Most of the education expenditures in Kosovo are on salaries and the occasional capital investment, leaving a gap in development and innovation. Mentioning that the Policy Brief suggests that more funds should be dedicated to teaching and learning resources, professional development programs for teachers, and innovation.
“Considering that the school population at the primary and lower secondary levels will continue to decline, now is the time to increase the quality of education by making long-term, strategic investments”, claims the Policy Brief.
Moreover, it explains that it is unfortunate that many students in Kosovo report feeling very disappointed that their opinions are not taken seriously by their teachers, thus apart from the urgent pedagogical training needed for all teachers, it is important to implement the teaching performance evaluation.
“It is equally critical to incorporate targeted policy interventions to provide better access as well as continued pedagogical support to poorer and rural households, as well as girls, children from non-majority ethnic communities, and children with special needs”, explains the Policy Brief.
The mismatch between education and labour market needs is confirmed by the fact that most young active labour market participants in Kosovo do not work in their occupation. Communication and digital skills are amoung the top three most sought after by Kosovo employers, and thus, teaching methods and lesson plans should urgently be revamped to build practical knowledge and develop skills needed in the 21st century, highlights the Policy Brief.
Lastly, it suggests that all institutions, teachers, and parents should work to actively engage children and young people in decision-making by increasing youth engagement and participation in and outside of schools.
“Finally, it is time for the decision-makers to stop treating young people as beneficiaries and to start considering them as capable actors. Strategies should not be developed for them but with them”, concludes the Policy Brief.
It recommends that Kosovo needs to make significant investments to improve the quality and equality of education, formal and non-formal education need to incorporate the teaching and nurturing of essential life skills that will enable children and young people to meaningfully participate in a democracy and youth empowerment should be fostered through active participation in decision-making from an early age.
The Policy Brief is published in the framework of the WB2EU project. The project aims at the establishment of a network of renowned think-tanks, do-tanks, universities, higher education institutes and policy centres from the Western Balkans, neighbouring countries and EU member states that will be most decisive for the enlargement process and Europeanisation of the region in the upcoming years. The WB2EU project is co-funded by the European Commission under its Erasmus+ Jean Monnet programme.