Insufficient Investments and Outdated Educational System

Education is recognised as a developmental priority in all the major global and regional strategies: from SDG, via the principles of the EU Pillar of Social Rights, to regional and national strategies.

It is most commonly pointed out that the education is the way to most efficiently overcome poverty.  To achieve the higher quality of education, it needs to be, above all, equally available for all children, which is something that the Child Protection Index analysis clearly shows.

The AFS recognises education as a social sphere, where more than in any other sphere the children are comprehensively included into community, and that obtaining quality education for all is the direct path towards the society that would fit all. The higher quality education for all is a system where children could achieve their maximum potential, thus becoming the satisfied and responsible members of society.

Inclusion rate of children in preschool education is gradually increasing in the region, even though it is still far off from the EU average. The greatest challenge is the coverage of the preschool education which is not mandatory (it is somewhat above 50 percent), wherein, it is significantly lower among the children from rural areas and marginalised groups. It is especially low among the children of Roma origin. The EU has confirmed these findings through its 11th principle of the EU Social Right Pillar which says: “Children have the right to affordable early childhood education and care of good quality. Children have the right to protection from poverty. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds have the right to specific measures to enhance equal opportunities”.

Also, a common challenge in the region is the access to compulsory education which affects the most vulnerable children (from low-income households including households with many children and single parent families, Roma, children with disabilities, etc.). This is also influenced by geographic access, poverty, teachers’ negative attitudes and poor skills. Intolerant attitudes among general population towards children with special educational needs are widespread.

AFS is focusing on the activities which can provide support to children’s education and achieving higher equity & equality for all children and especially those from vulnerable groups. It will also raise the quality of education through setting up the support services to the early development of children, while at the same time, empowering the parents, especially the mother of small children, and preparing the after-school programmes for the children in the elementary schools.