Strengthening the Capacity of Civil Society to Protect the Rights of Children with Disabilities in Albania

Partnerë për Fëmijët in partnership with World Vision and MEDPAK is implementing the project “Strengthening the Capacity of Civil Society to Protect the Rights of Children with Disabilities in Albania”, financed by European Union under its European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) programme. This is a two year project which started in May 2014 and is implemented in Dibra and Elbasan Districts.

The project aims to contribute in the promotion and protection of child rights focusing on fulfilling the rights of children with disabilities and to support civil society to more effectively influence policies that provide increased support to vulnerable children, especially children with disabilities.

The target groups of the project are: 200 children with disabilities and other children between 3 and 14 years from Elbasan and Dibra, peer educators/youth groups, civil society organisations, parents and families, school boards, teachers, school psychologists and central and local government representatives.

During the first phase of the project an in-depth needs assessment to understand the existing practices in the implementation of the Pre-University Education Law for children with disabilities in Peshkopi Municipality, Sllovë and Muhurr Communes and Elbasan and Shushicë, Bradashesh, Shirgjan, Gjergjan, Labinot Fushë, Gjinar and Papër Communes was conducted. The assessment mapped the education system quality, key services and practices and gaps in services for children with disabilities. As a result of this assessment a report was compiled which will be launched in March, at a national conference in Tirana.

Within the project different meetings with parents of children with disabilities and other parents and student governments will be organized. The aim of these meetings is to increase their knowledge on inclusion, adapt practices on inclusive education and encourage them to take initiatives to promote inclusion in their communities and address cases of children with disabilities who suffer discrimination and are unable to access the appropriate services to meet their needs.

In addition, to the activities mentioned above the first training with the members of the school boards occurred. The training sessions will address the role of School Boards to provide a school environment that is non-discriminatory, safe and welcoming to every child, including those with a disability. To promote a community wide approach to inclusion, training and regular meetings will take place with the Multi-disciplinary Groups of the Regional Directorates of Education. These groups are composed of a pediatrician, psychologist, social worker, teacher and one representative from the Regional Directorate of Education. The Multi-disciplinary Groups of the Regional Directorates of Education are a requirement of the Pre-university Law 69/2012 to ensure access by every child to education in an inclusive environment that welcomes every child into school.

During the summer months, social activities are planned to take place in Dibër and Elbasan.