BACK

The Youth Parliament Project

Youth Parliament of Albania is a UNICEF Project which aims at increasing youth participation in public debates. Main donors of this project are The Government of The Netherlands and Swiss Corporation & Development Agency. The project is implemented in cooperation with the Albanian Youth Council. The Youth Parliament Project has established representative assemblies for youth aged between 14 and 18 in six prefectures: Shkodra, Gjirokastra, Tirana, Korca, Vlora and Kukes. Two hundred democratically elected young parliamentarians prepare youth action agendas, learn about civic affairs through partnership with municipal and national officials, present plans of action to municipal governments and conduct peer-to-peer education programmes. These fora promote meaningful involvement of youth in civic affairs and civic education through first hand participation in debating issues and developing civic and social plans of action. The parliaments also contribute to ensuring that decision-makers take account of the voices of youth by facilitating the realisation of initiatives proposed in the plans of action developed by Young Parliamentarians. The project will be extended to reach all 12 prefectures of Albania by 2002. The network will be enhanced and learning opportunities improved.

For more information: www.youthparliament.org.al

 

Gardens of Children: A Community Based Approach to Early Childhood Care and Development

A stunningly dilapidated and disorganized human settlement fans out from both sides of the main northern road out of Tirana. Known as Bathore, this peri-urban settlement is home to over 60,000 economic migrants from northern Albania, over a third of them not registered. Glaring disparities exist between the access to public services in Bathore and the rest of Tirana. A key challenge for Children’s Rights in areas like Bathore is empowering parents, and particularly women, to ensure the best possible start in life for their children. Given the absence of public services in Bathore, the only available resources for early childhood care and development (ECCD) exist only within the community. Two obstacles to community based action to provide children’s services exist. Firstly, the deeply held traditional values of Northern Albania place an emphasis on family and government as the providers of child-care, poor levels of social capital prevent community based solutions. Secondly, northern values also place severe restrictions upon women, and there are very few women who take on any kind of leadership role at the local level.

The Gardens of Children, managed by a local branch of the Christian Children’s Fund in partnership with UNICEF, is an attempt to provide basic ECCD services within these parameters. Following ongoing brainstorming sessions with members of the local community it was agreed that 20 householders in different sections of Bathore would be chosen to host small crèches where under fives would have access to play materials, early learning and other activities. The centres would enable mothers to have access to information on good parenting, maternal health and also opportunities for vocational training. Each centre reaches up to 60 children, thus the total number of children reached in Bathore was 1,200. Prior to the establishment of Gardens of Children, only a fraction of this number was attending kindergartens in Bathore. A community board comprising crèche managers, local authority leaders and health, education and child protection professionals was established to manage and coordinate the work of the Gardens of Children. The women are also in the process of establishing a Mothers parliament for Children’s Rights. These activities are seen as key to sustaining the project beyond any mid-term funding cycle. Such bodies will also be more able to lobby local and central authorities for improved services for children in Bathore. The model has been broadly seen as a successful format for stimulating community participation for children’s rights in the Albanian context. The World Bank has just agreed a project partnership with UNICEF to extend the model throughout Albania over the next two years.

Contact

UNICEF
c/o UNDP (for UN Pouch)
Rruga “Deshmoret e 4 Shkurtit”
Villa No. 35
Tirana, Republic of Albania
Telephone: (355-4) 227.500
Fax: (355-4) 230.028
Email: gnjilane@unicef.org 
Website: www.unicef.org/albania