4.9 Case Study on Participation in Education in Albania

Hi, welcome to the Education Law Virtual Classroom. In this lecture, we will discuss legal aspects
of participation practices in Albania. As a post-communist country, participation
practices in Albanian schools did not exist. In the education legislation of the time, the right to education
was recognized but did not include any freedom of education. Student participation was recognized in the form of the obligation
to provide political information in class once a week thereby involving students in discussions. Parental participation was considered to be limited to
the parents’ concern about the progress of the students. Changes in education began after
the end of communism in the 1990s when Albania ratified a number of international conventions,
emphasizing the right and freedom to education. From a review of literature conducted in the study, it is clear that parental involvement in school is
crucial for the success of children in education. Albanian legislation provides
for parental involvement in school. The Albanian law on pre-university
education has recognized the right of parents to be organised in a variety of groups within and
outside the school, at regional and national levels, including the parental council,
the national council of parents, the school board, the ethics and behaviour
committee in the educational institution. However, in reality, the law on
pre-university education has gaps regarding the participation
of parents in school issues Parents have the right: to be informed by the relevant educational
institution on the educational current legislation, the regulation of the institution and the
curriculum that the school offers to his/her child to be informed about the safety, health and
environmental conditions of the institution and to demand the implementation of them according to
the standards established by the Albanian legislation; to be informed about the activities
of his/her child at the institution and to give consent to complementary and
extracurricular activities organized by the school to be informed about the main
directions of the institution’s activity and the achievements of the institution
in comparison with similar institutions. The parent has the obligation: to make sure that his/her child regularly attends
the educational institution and learns regularly to notify about changes in the
health and behaviour of his/her child to attend meetings on matters
pertaining to his/her child to contribute to the well-being of the institution. The law recognizes that both parents and pupils have
the right to be organized in a variety of bodies such as the Council of Parents,
the National Council of Parents, the Board of the educational institution, the Committee
of Ethics and Behaviour and the students’ government. However, traditionally parents have been viewed and dealt
with as clients and only recently as partners. In the communist period, parents in Albania
were not considered partners in education at all. Parental involvement in school
processes is now provided for in the law. Parents have to agree when making the list of elective
subjects for students in the school curricula. The parent plays the role of the child’s representative
in case of complaints about the child’s behaviour. The parent represents the child in psycho-social services to identify
and evaluate problems in child behaviour or learning difficulties. The parents also have to cooperate with
the school when making school regulations, mid-term plans, annual plans
and annual school reports. The establishment of the Parents’ National Council
is an attempt to include parents in education. However, even though it is known that every town in Albania
has a local representative on this council, it turns out that they do not function at all. Parents are also part of the school board, that deals with a
number of aspects affecting the education of the child. Thus, the school board acts as a representative body of pupils,
parents, teachers and the community. The aim of the school board is to ensure that the education services
are carried out according to national and local education policies by acknowledging problems,
solving or addressing solutions. Even though the school board
also deals with financial issues, in Albania it cannot perform its tasks provided
by law because of the lack of school autonomy. The Albanian law on pre-university education recognizes the right of the students to establish
the student’s government as a body that represents them. The body is created on
the initiative of the school students. Although the students’ government is a body which represents
the whole community of students in a particular school, according to the law 69/2012
‘On pre-university education’, it mainly represents students
from the sixth grade and above as schoolchildren of primary education
(grades 1 to 5) are ‘excluded’ from this right. In this way, the first five grades are left
without any body to represent their voice. Parental involvement in school aims at the well-being
of the child and the educational institution through a participatory decision-making process. In order to encourage full involvement
of all actors in the school, Albania started in 2014 the project: ‘School as community centre’ for the organization
of activities for community engagement. The initiative foresees the organization
of activities for community engagement. However, this project is addressed
only to public education institutions and since 2014 its implementation
has occurred sporadically. Only few schools in Albania enjoy
the ‘status’ of the ‘school as a community centre’. Despite the tendency to involve
parents in school processes, the law does not provide the bodies that will monitor
the implementation of parental involvement in schools. In conclusion: Participation practices in education, such as parental and
student involvement in Albania have a long way to go. Albanian legislation should define
concrete procedures to be followed by schools for involving parents in the education of their children,
as well as in various school activities, thereby creating ways of cooperation. It is also necessary to conduct
periodic surveys by state institutions, for understanding the needs and concerns of the parents
and evaluating the solutions and best practices.

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