UK invests 10 million pounds on the future’s jobs in Balkans

UK invests 10 million pounds on the future’s jobs in Balkans

TIRANA, March 13- In the framework of the 30th birthday of the internet, the British Council has designed a three years education program to launch five Balkan countries. The program titled 21st Century Schools seeks to provide pupils aged 10-15

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EU agency in collaboration with Albania over drug monitoring

EU agency in collaboration with Albania over drug monitoring

TIRANA, March 14- The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and Albania signed a Working Arrangement in Vienna on March 13, which will allow more active collaboration in monitoring the drug phenomenon in the future. The agreement

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Following the money: where is the construction boom being financed from?

Following the money: where is the construction boom being financed from?

TIRANA, March 11- Tirana is already experiencing a construction boom, and is expected to suffer more construction sites this 2019. For 2018 are given 388 permissions with a construction area of 940 thousand square meters. According to the Albanian Institute

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Eurostat releases 2018 asylum seekers data

Eurostat releases 2018 asylum seekers data

TIRANA, March 14- Following relevancy from last issue’s story on Albania’s comprising the second biggest group of emigrants to receive a EU passport in 2017, the European Institute of Statistics, Eurostat, released new data on the numbers of first-time asylum

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Eurostat claims a third of Albanians live only for food

Eurostat claims a third of Albanians live only for food

TIRANA, March 12- Data from the European Institute of Statistics, Eurostat, claim that citizens of Albania and Kosovo are the ones in Europe to spend more on food comparing to what their annual economic production. Eurostat has issued a report

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Raiffeisen Bank International also caught up in money laundering allegations

Raiffeisen Bank International also caught up in money laundering allegations

By Sonja Methoxha TIRANA, March 12- The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) have made available a number of media reports alleging that several major European banks have been drawn into money-laundering activities centered on Russian origins. Several investigations

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Norwegian company to build floating solar panels in Banje

Norwegian company to build floating solar panels in Banje

TIRANA, March 13- Statkraft Albania has signed a contract with Norwegian company Ocean Sun AS for cultivating solar panels with a maximal capacity of 2 MW at the hydropower tank of Banje in Elbasan. The project will consist of four

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Inflation lowers to 1.7%

Inflation lowers to 1.7%

TIRANA, Mar. 11- As the European currency euro remains unstable following another dropping against Albanian lek this week (as of March 11), together with lowered consuming from the citizens have added to a lowering on the level of inflation in

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Education is the least financed sector

Education is the least financed sector

TIRANA, Mar. 7- March 7th in Albania is the Teacher’s Day, an event on which students express their gratitude to their teachers about their hard work to educating them. This day corresponds to March 7th 1887 when the first Albanian

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Albanian economy, the budget revenue drop by 2,5 percent

Albanian economy, the budget revenue drop by 2,5 percent

TIRANA, Mar. 5- 2019 has started as a difficult year for the Albanian finances. Official data from the Finance Ministry show that as of January the budget revenue dropped by 2,5 percent comparing to 2018, or 900 million lek ($8

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, March 13- In the framework of the 30th birthday of the internet, the British Council has designed a three years education program to launch five Balkan countries. The program titled 21st Century Schools seeks to provide pupils aged 10-15 years old with the skills of critical thinking, problem solving and coding. The aim of this program is to grow a future generation of innovators and entrepreneurs, and built job opportunities for them. The project costs 10 million pounds and is being invested by the British government. 

21st Century Schools will mentor and offer valuable sources to uplift the capacities of school headmasters and policymakers. The program seeks to equip all Balkans’ middle schools and 1 million pupils with micro:bit computers which will help kids learn new digital skills and coding in a fun and interactive way. Micro:bit is programmable micro computer, which portable and can be used to design modern tools and objects, like robots and even musical instruments. This tiny computer can help kids think step by step and separate commands in sequences.

British Council (5)

The program is also launched in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia. In Albania the program was launched at “Niket Dardani” middle school. As the Albanian society is facing the fruits and challenges of technological innovation, this educative program seeks to prepare its pupils with the mindset and skills needed for the jobs of the future. In our country this program involves 1200 schools, more than 4000 teachers, and around 120 thousand pupils aged 10-15. 

This program comes in collaboration with the corresponding educational institutions per country. In the PISA test 2015, the Balkan countries have significantly performed under the mean of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in the subjects of mathematics, science and and reading. The PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) test is a worldwide study by the OECD, and aims to test literacy, the competence of students in three fields: reading, mathematics, science on an indefinite scale. The PISA asks students to apply their knowledge in solving problems set in real-world contexts.

According to OECD’s results, 78 percent of pupils in Kosovo, 70 percent in FYROM, 53 percent in Albania, and 52 percent in Montenegro, lacked basic skills in mathematics when comparing to the OECD’s mean of 30 percent. This result implies a lacking in practical problem-solving skills. And this weak education capacity and its noncompliance to the market needs are the of the main reasons of the high unemployment levels in these countries. 

Data from the World Bank issued in 2018 show that the average unemployment rate in the western Balkan countries is 31.5 percent, which is one of the highest in Europe. This problem is causing region emigration which on its behalf is caused by the worsening of economic conditions and lack of proper jobs, especially for the employees with secondary and primary skills. 

And in Albania the education sector is one of the least financed one, with only 3 percent of the country’s GDP invested. Thus, the pupils are facing an uncertain future, as there is a gap between the skills they acquire from school and the employers’ demands in the job market. However, as there is a high unemployment rate among youth in the Balkans, the technological and digital sectors have job vacancies. Research conducted shows that the future is IT, with primary work of Data Scientists and Analysts, Software and App Developers, Big Data Specialists, New Tech Specialists, etc.. 

Thus it is fair that children start learning relevant skills at a younger age with an opportunity to practice them in cross-curriculum projects and programing. Thus the 21st Century Schools seeks to improve the education system in the Balkans by providing equipment, and traineeships for coaches,  school leaders and teachers, making possible the convergence of contemporary teaching methods for 1 million pupils, with a main focus in critical thinking, coding and problem-solving. 

British Council (2)
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, March 14- The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and Albania signed a Working Arrangement in Vienna on March 13, which will allow more active collaboration in monitoring the drug phenomenon in the future. The agreement was signed by EMCDDA Director Alexis Goosdeel, and by the Albanian Deputy Minister of the Interior Besfort Lamallari and Deputy Minister of Health and Social Protection Mira Rakacolli. 

The signing ceremony was made in the presence of Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner responsible for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, and took place at the Delegation for the European Union to the International Organizations in Vienna hoster by EU ambassador Didier Lenoir.

The Working Arrangement originates in a request from the Albanian Ministry of the Interior to the EMCDDA Director in 2017 and follows the seal of approval of the European Commission and EMCDDA Management Board. While the agency has signed similar agreements with other third countries, this is the first request of its kind from the Western Balkans. The new agreement provides for the exchange of expertise between the entities concerned and will contribute to developing drug data-collection and reporting capacity in the country.

The EMCDDA began its cooperation with Albania in 2007 in the framework of EU-funded technical assistance projects designed to prepare Western Balkan countries for accession to the EU. The EMCDDA and Albania are currently working together to consolidate Albania’s capacity to monitor the drug phenomenon through the use of evidence-based tools and knowledge built and promoted within the EU and for participating in the work of the EMCDDA and its Reitox network. They also exchange data on new psychoactive substances as well as expertise on establishing a national early-warning system.

The Reitox network is the European information network on drugs and drug addiction created at the same time as the EMCDDA. Members of the Reitox network are designated national institutions or agencies responsible for data collection and reporting on drugs and drug addiction. These institutions are called “national focal points” or “national drug observatories.”

While no formal national drug observatory has yet been established in Albania, along the lines of a Reitox national focal point, the EMCDDA has developed close working relations with the Ministry of the Interior and with the Institute of Public Health of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection. This cooperation led to the financing of the first national general population survey on drugs in Albania in 2014 as well as the production of a Country Drug Report for Albania in 2017 following EMCDDA guidelines.

Albania is one of six candidate and potential candidate countries to the EU currently receiving assistance under the EMCDDA IPA 6 project (Albania, Bosnia–Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia), which kicked off in July 2017 and will run until June 2019.
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, March 11- Tirana is already experiencing a construction boom, and is expected to suffer more construction sites this 2019. For 2018 are given 388 permissions with a construction area of 940 thousand square meters. According to the Albanian Institute of Statistics (INSTAT), comparing to 2017 the permissions given on 2018 increased by 80 percent. 

All this area requires a minimal investment of 350 million euros. This amount is calculated in two ways, the first is by considering that the constructing cost amounts to 350-400 euro per square meter, and secondly by the expectations the Municipality of Tirana has regarding tax collections. The municipality foresees to collect 3.2-4 billion Albanian leks worth of taxes until 2021, which corresponds to about 350-400 million euros a year worth of investments in the sector of construction for the capital alone. 

According to Colliers International in Albania the total area foreseen to be constructed within five years will be 538 thousand square meters, with  the center of the capital as the most heavily compressed area. 22 construction projects are underway around the main areas of Tirana which are expected to finish within three years. Sales prices for apartments are expected to vary from 2000-2500 euros per square meter, whereas the prices for offices will cost buyers 2500-5000 euros per square meter.  

According to data from the Structural Survey gathered by the Albanian Institute of Statistics, INSTAT, the Albanian economy declares annual profits amounting to 1.2 billion euros. The construction sectors contributes with about 188 million euros a year to the state’s profits. So how could Albania’s economy generate liquidities to support such large residential projects? Or more simply put, where is all the money invested in construction coming from?

This article is based on a detailed report conducted by Ornela Liperi for the Albanian economic magazine Monitor, and also other articles and reports to try to bring a fuller picture of the situation. The report starts by analysing the major construction companies which are enlisted among the 200 main enterprises in Albania considering annual turnover, that have enough resources to be involved in vast projects which justify the ending cost. The companies are Kastrati sh. a., Alb-Star, GENER 2, Alb-Building, and Balfin Group. 

Kastrati sh. a. has as main activity the trading of fuels, but lately has been involved in construction as well. This company has short-term assets that can generate up to 90 million euros worth of liquidities, and an annual profit of 16 million euros. Its ratio between liabilities and capital is one to one. 

Gener 2 which has under construction many residential projects in the capital, has short-term assets worthing 40 million euros, and a profit of 2 million euros a year. Other companies, like Fusha for example, have a minimal balance sheet. Fusha is the company which allegedly won a fictive tender for the construction of the new theatre building project and two towers nearby. The total short-term assets of the company amount to 14 million euros and its long-term ones are minimal. For 2017 the company had a revenue of 10 million euros and post-taxes profit of 400 thousand euros. 

Other construction companies in general didn’t have more than 10-15 million euros worth of short-term assets. For example Inerte Express had an annual income of 6 million euros for 2017 and a 2.3 million euros short-term assets. Lately this company has officially introduced a 60 million euros project. 

What has been noticed lately is that this construction boom is followed by an emerging of unknown construction companies. According to official data, these companies have had minimal to zero declared income. As projects undertaken by these companies have been performed with fast rhythms, it is unsure where the funds for them are coming from because banks don’t finance companies that have no sort of history. So how can construction companies with such low income manage to push projects worth tens of millions euros? 

Oftentimes in construction projects the investor and the executive firm aren’t the same entities. Builder Hajredin Fratari said that it is difficult to identify who the investor of a construction project is. Another builder, Sokol Kika of Kika Construction which has been operating in Tirana since 1992, said that some of the risks this sector is facing are coming from newly-emerging companies which lack expertise in the field, and from companies that used to build but that are currently lacking in liquidities, although they have a constructing permission. 

 

Decreasing loans during 2018

The banks have been quite set-back in financing construction projects during 2018 and have shown lack of enthusiasm regarding entrepreneurs rushing after this sector. According to data from the Bank of Albania the loan stock for construction in January 2019 was 47 billion lek (377 million euros). In September 2016 the stock value was 48.4 billion lek (388 million euros). Loans for the construction sector amount to 15 percent of the total given credit to enterprises within the country.

According to data provided by the Bank of Albania the loans given in the sector of construction for 2018 amounted to 25 billion leks, or about 200 million euros. Comparing to 2017 the loan granting has decreased by 7 percent. The bankers have admitted that most of the loans given in the construction sector are financing infrastructure projects, and only 20-25 percent are for residential projects in Tirana. 

Bankers also admitted that banks have backed down from crediting because the banking system is in a process of restructuring regarding sales and purchases. The banks are mainly crediting already existing clients that hold good CVs, that have successfully passed two or three projects, that have nice locations, or that diversified their activities as well.

Construction is seen as risky sector due to its past problematic history. According to data from the Bank of Albania, until the end of 2015, the loans given to constructing companies which weren’t returned upon to scheduled date was 38.1 percent of the total. Even though the weight of the problematic loans has decreased due to clearing, the banks still have been guarded and careful towards granting new crediting.

Another issue apart risky loans is connected to the fact that banks prefer another type of collateral comparing to what financing requires, and little firms are able to ensure that type of collateral. However, the highest demand on financing from the constructing companies are for paying off the infrastructure taxes required by the Municipality. 

 

The scheme followed to finance construction

The bankers claim that there are invisible investors that fund large residential projects which are built rather quickly. This entering of funds is camouflaged through clearing (getting property by providing other unpaid labor or supplies for example), unreal assets sales, financing from partners or third party contracts. 

Construction is evaluated as a sector with a high profit rates as the building costs remain far lower than the price of sales. Builders explain that apartments with an average cost of 500 euros per meter square are sold with a minimum of 2000 euros per meter square. That is the reason why it is also attracting a wave of free money. Basically investors are “parking” their free money flow on these sites prior building, so they can acquire cheaper apartments than the final sales price.

On the other hand, the money is entering through the apartments purchasing in cash, this allowed by the informal system in our country. Constructors admit that the sales prices are declared much cheaper than their real value. For example, an apartment with a real price of 1500 euros per meter square is declared as having a value of 800 euros per meter square. This system of informality is done so that people can avoid transactions over 1 million lek (8000 euros) through the banks. However, this entire mass investing of the free money in the construction sector came after making gambling unlawful. 

 

The construction sector is unsupervised

The director of the Anti Money Laundering Agency Arlind Gjokuta said that the sector of construction has no regulating institutional body. He said that this sector vastly works with cash, adding that it is more than unusual that a construction company with no income to start executing a project. This happens because there is no supervising authority to conduct inspections to this sector. The ministries have a urban development department but these departments only supervise the licenses and tender documentation for constructing permissions, but don’t make more close inspection regarding fundings. 

“Whatever is an unjustified income first tax it, then if it has a criminal origin, confiscate it,” said Gjokuta.

He said that it is necessary to establish such an authority to supervise the sector and investigate the phenomenon. He added that the police, the prosecutor’s office and the taxation agency should be more collaborative, with the taxation agency having a graver role. The construction sector requires a groundwork regulation for the way it functions and the liquidity that enters the system.

The Taxation Agency has admitted that the construction is a risky sector regarding fulfilling their tax obligations. The agency has increased its attention towards this sector and will be collaborating with other law enforcement institutions in structuring a plan to tackle it. The plan will add more visits from tax agents to follow the construction progress and their lawful tax declarations; a full detailed control on the accuracy and validation of the finished and sold objects; assigning inspectors specific controls in the various parts amounting the sector. 

The most important parts where the inspectors will focus will be regarding the relationships and transactions made between the landowners where the construction site is happening with the investors and executing company; the work done as specified in the contracts signed; budget control and financial data with their origin regarding the funding of the construction project; a construction specialist will accompany the inspectors to provide more detailed information regarding the building materials to avoid evasion; the control of the sold objects using the market and reference area prices, along with the building costs and price-lists used in the analysis of each building unit.

Both construction and gambling have resulted risky and on the top lists of the Anti Money Laundering Agency. Gambling is already made unlawful by the government closing all sports betting houses and casinos starting as of January 2019. With construction though still remains a space where the institutions can work to fight informality and close the money-laundering loopholes. Gjokuta however, said that these two sectors are the most problematic worldwide. 

The Moneyval report on monitoring money laundering in Albania pointed out that the main mechanisms used for this unlawful phenomenon were gambling and real estate. Moneyval is a permanent monitoring body of the Council of Europe entrusted with the task of assessing compliance with the principal international standards to counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism and the effectiveness of their implementation, as well as with the task of making recommendations to national authorities in respect of necessary improvements to their systems. 

The report writes that the gambling sector through the threat of criminal infiltration into ownership and activity, and the construction sector are seen as highly risky for money laundering. If the notary used to be considered as a delicate profession due to their involving with the real estate transactions, nowadays it is riskier to have transactions made without the involving of a notary and real estate agents. 

The report stresses that there is an inflow of income from criminal activities which is being invested in Albania in the real estate sector and trading companies. The high level of informality together with the vast usage of cash money, creates a risk of money laundering. The report adds that according to the Anti Money Laundering Agency, the real estate agents are included in only 8 percent of the whole transactions. However, to be noted is that their activity is on the rise.

 

How the apartment prices are increasing

The unwarranted booming of residential construction projects from the liquidities generated by the formal economy and loan-granting, is also followed by a considerable high sales prices. The sales prices are reaching a level of 4000 euros per square meter, which the Colliers International considers it as the most expensive in the entire region. Tirana is now the most expensive capital in the Balkans region, surpassing Belgrade which sells its premium apartments at 3000 euros per square meter. Third place comes Podgorica with a maximum price of 2200 euros per square meter, and in Skopje the apartments don’t go higher than 2000 euros per square meter. 

Managing partner to Colliers International in Albania Stela Dhami said that it is being built disregarding any market logic. The projects are being executed without considering a logical market development. She foresees that within two years there will most probably be created a bubble from all the unstandardized buildings.

“The investments are directed towards locations disregarding the developmental potentials, because it is perceived that the risk will be zero if the location is primary,” said Dhami. 

President of Balfin Group and entrepreneur in many various sectors Samir Mane, has withdrawn from construction projects in the capital. He has admitted that in Tirana is being built more than the norm, and if all the projects manage to be executed and finalized they will most probably have issues with sales. He said that banks have an innate recoiling in real estate financing. 

“If they are not supported by banks, a part of the business will either postpone the projects, or have difficulties finishing them, or will be transferred into other hands,” said Mane. 

Dhami has also admitted that from conversations with bankers they have told her that that banks see this sector as risky and are pretty conservative in granting loans. The credits are given credible companies that have diversified activities. The manner of construction is through clearing, whereas most of the money comes from abroad. 

The large projects will hit the market with a minimal price of 2500 euros per square meter, except from the Rruga e Kosovareve where the prices average from 1500-2200 euros. This offer is in a totally opposite direction from what the market requires and the real capacity of the Albanian economy. According to calculations from Colliers the prices are senseless because the rental yield is much lower than the real sales price. A rental yield is the return a property investor is likely to achieve on a property through rent. It is a percentage figure, calculated by taking the yearly rental income of a property and dividing it by the total amount that has been invested in that property.  Also the facts that people are emigrating and there is no economic boom in the country are two issues which add a sort of surprising twist into the whole construction roar. 

Real buyers usually demand to buy an apartment which comprises two bedrooms and a living room, with average prices between 700 to 1200 euros per square meter. Loans director to Union Bank Enkeleida Hasho said that the average loans for apartments given to individuals vary from 40-50 thousand euros. She said that the banks mainly receive applications for apartments on residential blocks that are sold with 700-800 euros per square meter. Bankers say that expensive apartments are bought with cash because banks rarely grant large loans for housing. They are given mainly to individuals that have fine jobs in international institutions and have secured income.

And in Albania the average salary for an employee was 50 thousand leks or 400 euros a month at the end of September 2018. According to the Albanian Institute of Statistics, INSTAT, comparing to 2017 the salaries have experienced a dropping of 1 percent. Thus considering the aforementioned pushed apartment prices, a family with average income would need a century to buy an apartment located in a good precinct which would cost 200 thousand euros for an area of 100 square meters. 

Data from Eurostat show that the income of Albanians in 2017 was only 30 percent of the European Union’s average. This value has remained the same since 2014 indicating that the country hasn’t progressed much in the process of convergence. Convergence means experiencing a faster growth than the developed EU countries so their standard can be caught on. Eurostat writes that Albania has the lowest income per capita in the region. Bosnia-Herzegovina has 32 percent of the EU median, Montenegro has 46 percent, and Serbia with Macedonia hold 36 percent. Also in the prectrum of the individual consumption per capita Albania results last with 39 percent of the European mean, Bosnia holds a 41 percent, Serbia 45 percent, Montenegro 56 percent, and Macedonia 41 percent.

A concerning issue are the pessimistic projections released by INSTAT which claim that if the population follows the same tendency, then Albania will have around 2 million citizens by 2061. Data from INSTAT show that Albania is already experiencing a population aging as the country is rapidly changing its structure in obstruction for youth and the pension age is increasing.  

INSTAT claims that as of January 2019 the population for groupages 0-24 years old fell with over 31 thousand persons comparing to 2018. Groupage 15-24 experienced the biggest drop in population number with over 17 thousand persons. The population rupture in this groupage is connected to mass emigration and the drastic drop in births. These changes in the population show that the age group of over 55 years old experienced an increase of 30 thousand persons this 2019 comparing to the previous year.

This tendency is expected to give the biggest impacts in a mid-term future, by straining the pension scheme and lowering the work productivity, which in a chain reaction will negatively influence the incomes and purchasing power to a country, that it wouldn’t be surprising if by 2061 will have more offices and apartments than people.

 
                    [post_title] => Following the money: where is the construction boom being financed from?
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                    [post_date] => 2019-03-17 11:53:52
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-17 10:53:52
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, March 14- Following relevancy from last issue’s story on Albania’s comprising the second biggest group of emigrants to receive a EU passport in 2017, the European Institute of Statistics, Eurostat, released new data on the numbers of first-time asylum seekers in EU for 2018, where Albanians were the ninth in the list with 19 thousand applicants.

Eurostat writes on its report that in 2018, 580,800 first-time asylum seekers applied for international protection in the Member States of the European Union, down by 11% compared with 2017 (654,600), and less than half of the number recorded in the peak year 2015 when 1,256,600 first-time asylum applicants were registered. The number of asylum applicants in 2018 is comparable to the level recorded in 2014, before the peaks of 2015 and 2016.

Syria was the main country of citizenship of asylum seekers in the EU Member States in 2018, a position it has held each year since 2013. In 2018, the number of Syrian first-time asylum applicants in the EU were 81 thousand persons or 13.9 percent of the entire number of first-time applicants. They are followed by Afghanis accounted for 7.1 percent of the total number of first-timers at almost 41 thousand asylum applicants, and Iraqis comprising 6.8 percent, 39.5 thousand persons.

The main countries of destination were Germany, France, and Greece. Germany registered 28 percent of the whole of first-time asylum seekers, amounting to 162 thousand persons. France had 110 thousand applicants or 19 percent, followed then by Greece at 11 percent, or 65 thousand persons applying. 

Albanians comprised 3 percent of the whole of first-time asylum seekers in the EU countries. The number has decreased over the years, reaching a record number of 69 thousand asylum seekers in 2015. The number then dropped by half in 2016 to 33 thousand applicants, and then following a gradual decrease with 26 thousand Albanians applying for asylum in 2017, and now 19 thousand in 2018.

Albanian economic magazine has worked on some metadata regarding the number of applicants per population. According to the statistics Albania is still in the first place, as 6.6 persons in 1000 are leaving the country. They are followed by Georgians, with 4.6 in 1000, and Syrians at 4.4 per 1000 persons. This data show that Albanians surpass even the emigration of citizens from war-conflicted countries.

 
                    [post_title] => Eurostat releases 2018 asylum seekers data
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                    [post_date] => 2019-03-16 16:49:49
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, March 12- Data from the European Institute of Statistics, Eurostat, claim that citizens of Albania and Kosovo are the ones in Europe to spend more on food comparing to what their annual economic production. Eurostat has issued a report on the nominal expenses as a GDP percentage for 2017. 

According to the report’s data the nominal spendings in Albania were 31 percent of the GDP. In the last two years the report has started to include Kosovo as well. Kosovo has has a slightly lower mark at 29.2 percent. If non-alcoholic beverages get included in the index, Kosovo jumps to first place with a 34.1 percent spendings per GDP, whereas Albania’s pointer increases slightly at 31.9 percent. 

The expenses on foods in ratio to the annual income in the Balkan countries are quite higher than the EU countries means. The EU average stands at 6 percent, with Romania being in first place with 15.8 percent of its GDP. Then the lowest ones are in Ireland with 2.7 percent and Luxemburg with 2.6 percent of their GDPs.

Albanians and Kosovars spend most of their money on food and beverages even when comparing to the rest of the region. In Serbia the index lies at 15.6 percent of the country’s GDP, whereas higher figures resulted in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro with spendings amounting to 23-24 percent of their GDPs. For candidates and potential candidates for EU excluding Kosovo and Turkey, the mean lied at 19.7 percent. 

In absolute values an Albanian spends annually on food an amount of 1248 euros. The average spendings of an EU citizen on food amount to 1800 euros a year. However, Albania’s income per capita is only as much as 30 percent of the EU average. 

In another report Eurostat counts the expenses on bread and grains. In Albania the spendings on this directive were 4.9 percent of the country’s GDP, which is again the highest in Europe, followed by Bosnia-Herzegovina with 3.1 percent. This high consumption of bread and doughs indicates the poverty and the low income provided by a country which is forced to buy expensive groceries because a great number of them are imported. This is especially ironic since Albania has the largest agricultural weight in Europe with 18-20 percent of its GDP, comparing to Asia and Europe with a 2 percent mean, and Northern Macedonia with 8 percent.

Only after a family meets the basic needs to feed themselves can they start thinking of the rest of expenses, with traveling, entertainment and luxuries being the last in their lists. The data from Eurostat shows that Albanians don’t only spend the most of their money in bread, but that this value is higher than 10 years ago. According to the earliest data from the Albanian Institute of Statistics INSTAT which date in 2008, Albanians would spend 4.4 percent of their GDP on bread in that year, reaching a 4.9 percent on 2017.

In absolute values in 2017 the average spendings of an Albanian in bread and grains amounted to 198 euros a year, one of the historical highs for the region. Even though the developed countries spend more money in absolute values, this comes because these products there are pricier but also because their income is much higher than those of an average Albanian citizen. Following the purchasing power parity method with a reference value of 1, in Albani the PPP is 1:90, which is the highest in Europe. The purchasing power parity represents the cost of living in a country. It is measured by finding the values of a basket of consumer goods that are present in each country (such as bread, rice, etc.). If  for example that basket costs 100 euros in a EU country and 200 euros in Albania, then the purchasing power parity exchange rate is 1:2. Even if a country has a higher GDP per capita (individual income), that country's people may still live poorer if the cost of living is higher. 

 
                    [post_title] => Eurostat claims a third of Albanians live only for food
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                    [post_date] => 2019-03-16 11:13:14
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                    [post_content] => By Sonja Methoxha

TIRANA, March 12- The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) have made available a number of media reports alleging that several major European banks have been drawn into money-laundering activities centered on Russian origins. Several investigations are being done in the Baltic nations, the U.S., U.K. and Nordic countries. The Bloomberg writes that the International Monetary Fund has estimated the amount of money laundered globally per year to be 2 percent to 5 percent of global GDP, or as much as $2 trillion.

The first to hit the papers was the Danish giant Danske Bank in 2018. The Estonian branch of Danske is suspected of handling iffy funds from former Soviet states. Bloomberg writes that Denmark’s biggest bank admitted in September 2018 that much of about $230 billion that flowed through its small Estonian unit between 2007 and 2015 was probably of suspicious origin.

Even though Danske is currently being investigated by U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, and authorities in Denmark, Estonia, the U.K. and France under these allegations, it did start a domino effect for other banks and their suspicious large money inflows. 

The latest bank caught in this scheme was Austrian Raiffeisen Bank International after a report filed by the Hermitage Fund. The Fund is urging authorities to investigate a ​​​​$967 million of suspicious money flows from Danske Bank and Lithuanian Ukio Bankas to Raiffeisen, as well as in other lenders in the country. These allegations and concerns are raised by Hermitage Fund’s and prominent Kremlin critic Bill Browder, claiming that Austrian banks have enabled Russian criminals to launder funds in the past ten years, by continually failing to respond to warning signs.

“This illicit scheme would not have been possible without the gross negligence or acquiescence from the employees of Austrian banks,” Hermitage said.

An article on the Raiffeisen Intl. involvement by addendum.org, an independent journalistic organization in search of “what’s missing”, wrote that the money landed according on a total of 1055 Austrian bank accounts at 78 banks. About $634 million flowed into accounts at the Raiffeisen Zentralbank (RZB), which has been a so-called correspondent bank of Ukio Bankas. Correspondent banks support other financial institutions in international business, such as cross-border money transfers.

Browder stressed on the lack of attention paid to such money movements towards Austrian accounts. The complaint states that some of the companies sending money were unknown and had no business activities. Other companies lacked normal expenses, and some were shell companies registered in Belize, Seychelles, the British Virgin Islands, or Panama, countries with opaque jurisdiction. 

Hermitage stated that several money-receiving account-holders had no clear connection with Austria and conducted no business there. Many of the accounts sending money were linked to an organized criminal group, whose members include Russian government officials. Some of the funds moved were used to buy houses, charter yachts, and rent private jets. OCCRP takes as example in its written report on an Austrian account opened for a relative of a Moscow official, who received more than $4 million and later used it to purchase a 344 square meters apartment with a wine cellar in downtown Vienna.

Hermitage places Raiffeisen Bank at the center of its allegations, naming it as the recipient of more than $600 million from Ukio Bankas accounts. These allegations are linked to what is named as the Troika Laundromat, created by once Russia’s largest private investment bank Troika Dialog. This system was discovered by OCCRP with Lithuanian news site 15min.lt. OCCRP writes that Troika Laundromat channels billions of dollars out of Russia. The Laundromat also allowed Russian oligarchs and politicians to secretly acquire shares in state-owned companies, to buy real estate both in Russia and abroad, to purchase luxury yachts, to hire music superstars for private parties, to pay medical bills, and much more.

Hermitage places Raiffeisen Bank at the centre of its allegations, naming it as the recipient of more than $600 million from Ukio Bankas accounts. OCCRP and 15min.lt has previously exposed Ukio Bankas to operate the $6 billion financial system created by Russian investment bank Troika Dialog. Ukio was shut down in 2013 by regulators.

There are other banks which are allegedly involved in this laundromat titanic scheme, like Helsinki-based Nordea and Sweden’s Swedbank. The sums that may have flowed through these banks are small change when comparing to Danske’s impressive standards, yet, as The Economist writes Nordea allegedly handled some 700 million euros, while $5.8 billion is reported to have moved between Swedbank and Danske.

Hermitage claimed that money entering Austrian banks included $230 million allegedly stolen from the Russian treasury. OCCRP partners claim that Finland’s Nordea Bank and Germany’s Deutsche Bank have received 700 million euros and $889 million respectively in potentially dirty money from Ukio. The case, one of the biggest tax frauds in recent years, was exposed by Hermitage lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who subsequently died from ill treatment in prison.

Austrian prosecutors could not be reached for comment and Raiffeisen says it is investigating the situation. As the materials prepared by the Hermitage Fund and provided by OCCRP are pretty convincing, has Raiffeisen Intl. served as a dirty Russian money laundromat? Raiffeisen is also the second biggest bank in Albania with annual profits of 4.5 billion lek, or $40.7 million. Could the Albanian branch be implicated in such suspicious activities? 

The Economist writes that when these news surfaced all these banks lost a good amount of their market share, for instance Swedbank’s share price has shed 18 percent, other European banks caught up in such allegations have lost around 20 billion euros in stock market value in the past six months, and Raiffeisen tumbled by more than 12 percent on March 5 after the complaint was filed. This is the biggest fall that the Austrian international bank has experienced in 11 months. 

“Until banks come clean and reveal the full extent of what suspicious transactions they have been involved in, this looks set to run and run,” said Philip Richards, a Bloomberg analyst said on its website.

 
                    [post_title] => Raiffeisen Bank International also caught up in money laundering allegations
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                    [post_date] => 2019-03-13 16:20:47
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, March 13- Statkraft Albania has signed a contract with Norwegian company Ocean Sun AS for cultivating solar panels with a maximal capacity of 2 MW at the hydropower tank of Banje in Elbasan. The project will consist of four floating units with 0.5 MW capacity each, and the overall investment amounts to 2.3 million euros. 

Statkraft is a leading company in hydropower internationally and Europe’s largest generator of renewable energy. The company which was born 120 years ago in Norway produces hydropower, wind power, solar power, gas-fired power and supplies district heating. The Group also deals with energy market operations. Statkraft has been present in Albania since 2007 and owns 100 percent of the Banje hydropower tank, which was opened in 2016.

Ocean Sun AS is a Norwegian company founded in 2016 to make a change in the solar industry, and potentially to the whole of the energy sector. The company’s vision is to provide the technology that rapidly makes clean energy production the cheapest alternative to large populations around the world, with the hope of conversion from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The new technology will enable large-scale solar developments on coastal seawater, lakes and reservoirs. 

This is the first major commercial contract on floating solar technology from Ocean Sun. This project will demonstrate the implementation of a new technology developed based on Norwegian solar photovoltaics and maritime industry. 

“Testing new technology for floating solar power panels fits very well with Statkraft’s strategy to grow our renewable energy generation from hydro, wind and solar. If the technology is proven successful and the potential for cost-competitiveness can be achieved, a wider application of floating solar may take place in other Statkraft locations”, said Christian Rynning-Tønnesen, CEO of Statkraft.

In December 2018, Statkraft Albania received a preliminary authorization from the Government of Albania for the implementation of a floating solar plant at Banja with a feed-in-tariff. Subject to final regulatory approvals, the solar plant will be constructed during 2019/2020.

 
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                    [post_date] => 2019-03-12 11:54:37
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Mar. 11- As the European currency euro remains unstable following another dropping against Albanian lek this week (as of March 11), together with lowered consuming from the citizens have added to a lowering on the level of inflation in Albania to 1.7 percent for Feb. 2019. This data is issued by the Albanian Institute of Statistics, INSTAT. 

The objective by the bank of Albania for the inflation level is to remain at 3 percent. According to data issued by INSTAT, comparing to Jan. 2019, the value has dropped by 0.6 percent. Comparing to Feb. 2018 the change amounts in 2.1 percent. 

A higher inflation means a country’s money supply grows faster than production in that country, making the average price to rise as a result of the increased demand for goods and services. It can be caused by higher costs being charged on to the end-user, or higher tax rates. These price rises cause the value of money to fall. You can therefore buy less with the same amount of money. But this does not need to have an immediate effect on purchasing power. Purchasing power only declines if wages rises less rapidly than prices.

A 2 to 3 percent ratio of inflation is considered to be a normal level. Such low inflation is beneficial for the economy as it encourages consumers to buy goods and services and makes it more appealing to borrow money, as interest rates are usually lower during periods of low inflation. Therefore, a lower inflation is an important goal for governments and central banks because of the economic benefits.

There is also another occurrence, deflation, which is negative inflation. Deflation causes the real price level falls, leading to buying more goods with the same amount of money as time passes. However, deflation can sometimes be bad for economic growth because it is very likely that consumers will postpone their purchases because they expect to have to pay less for them in the near future. Deflation is usually an indicator of a country’s declining economy.  

It’s hard to tell whether what is going on in Albania is just a lowering of inflation, or deflation. A lowering of inflation would probably lead to a better economy on the long-term, whereas deflation would be a pointer of a bad economic governance. The lowering of the inflation value in Albania seems to have been derived from currency exchange rates, because the prices haven’t really dropped. The data provided by INSTAT calculate the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in Albania. CPI measures the relative changes in prices of goods and services consumed by the families. It is calculated by using final consuming structure on which each family spends. The data is appropriated by the Family Budget Survey.

As of Feb. 2019 the annual price increases has been mainly affected by “Foods and non-alcoholic beverages” by 1.37 percentage points and “Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels” by 0.18 percentage points. There has been an increase in prices of other consumer goods and services groups, such as “Alcoholic beverages and tobacco” and “Recreation and culture” by 0.05 percentage points.

The prices of “Hotel, coffee-houses, and restaurants” increased by 0.04 percentage points, “Education service” increased by 0.02 percentage points, and groups “Furniture, household goods, and maintenance” with “Miscellaneous goods and services” increased by 0.01 percentage points.

The data shows that there are consumer groups that experienced a dropping in prices such as “Healthcare” decreased by 0.02 percentage points, and “Clothing and footwear” together with “Transport” have decreased by 0.01 percentage points.

Apart from the CPI, there is also another index called the Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices (HICP). It is a consumer price inflation index that measures the change over time in the prices of consumer goods and services acquired, used or paid for by euro area households. It is called harmonized because it is uses the same methodology for all EU countries. Thus, allows a better inflation comparing amongst EU countries, to ensure price stability. INSTAT defines the HICP as the change in retail prices of goods and services based on the consumer’s expenses on the final product. 

As of Jan. 2019 the annual HICP change was calculated at 2.4 percent with the largest contributor to the value was the group “Food and nonalcoholic beverages” with an increase by 5.4 percent. It is then followed by “Hotel, coffee-houses, and restaurants” with an increase by 2.9 percent, “Recreation and culture” increased by 1.8 percent, “Alcoholic beverages and tobacco” by 1.1 percent, “Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels” increased by 0.5 percent, and “Miscellaneous goods and services” followed a 0.4 percent increase.

Consumer groups that experienced a decrease in prices were “Transport” by 0.6 percent, and “Clothing and footwear” with “Healthcare” by 0.5 percent.

table1
 

table3

table2

 
                    [post_title] => Inflation lowers to 1.7%
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                    [post_date] => 2019-03-11 13:53:21
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Mar. 7- March 7th in Albania is the Teacher’s Day, an event on which students express their gratitude to their teachers about their hard work to educating them. This day corresponds to March 7th 1887 when the first Albanian school was opened in our country. Thus, this day doesn’t only appreciate teachers, but education in general.

132 years later the education system in our country hasn’t gotten any better. The issues have deepened due to lack of finances, bad school infrastructure, a gap level of the educating body, and a drastic decrease in pupils due to birth rate shrinkage. If prior the ‘90s the government would finance the education sector with more than four-to-five percent of its annual GDP, today that financing is less than three percent. This number is 40 percent lower than the investments done in developed countries, and 20 percent less comparing to the other countries of the region. 

The financing from the government for the education sector as of years 2017 and 2018 was 3,1 percent of the country’s GDP. Out of this number it was learnt that one percent was paid by the parents through direct tariffs. These low investment was one of the reasons that pushed the students to hold a month-long protest in December 2018 so the government would increase funds to five percent of GDP as promised by the actual government during the 2017 elections campaign. 

The percentage of family financing increased significantly after the increase of higher education tariffs in 2015 (the university tariffs). These tariffs are paid by the students or family members on the budget of the Education Ministry, which then disperses it according to its needs. 

According to an analysis by UNESCO, comparing to the other countries of the European continent Albania continues a low financing in the education sector in proportion to its GDP. Albania was ranked last in the region with funds towards education in the region, as the other countries were spending 4-4,5 percent of their GDPs in this sector.

During the transition years post-90s Albania has historically invested three percent of its GDP in education. Only in 2007 prior to the global financial crisis and economic recession did the funds barely reach a 3,2 percent. After the crisis the investment have been at a constant of maximum three percent. Also the private and family expenses for the education as a GDP ratio have been increasing since 2011. Following this pattern, the expenses achieved a 0,9 percent at the end of 2015, and slightly higher than one percent in 2017. The lack of financing has negatively in the quality of education, especially in the disadvantaged strata of society. 

Even though the protesting students required the promised five percent financing, the budget plan has foreseen a different situation. According to the middle-term plannings of the Ministry of Finance the expenses the government will implement on the education sector will be 3,1-3,3 percent of the GDP for 2018-19, and then will decrease again to three percent for 2020 and 2021. 

The latest data from the Albanian Institute of Statistics, INSTAT, the weight of expenses for the education comparing to the standards of living reached a record level of 4,4 percent of the total consumption in 2016. A decade before that number was 1,7 percent. According to surveys on family budgets for the region and EUROSTAT, Albanian families spend the most on education comparing to regional and EU countries. EU countries spend on average 2,1 percent of their total consumption in education. Serbia, Macedonia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina spend about 0.6-0,7 percent, and Croatia reaches 1,1 percent.

A 30 percent reduction in educating body

The the ‘90s the sector of education has decreased with more than 30 percent in its body of teachers, schools, and pupils. According to INSTAT as of 2018 there has been a decrease of 35 percent in pupils attending mid-school (in Albania the first nine grades), comparing to 1991. 43,700 pupils attended middle school in 2018, comparing with 68,600 pupils in 1991. The data shows that there have attended 260 thousand pupils less since 1991, with the largest decrease in the past two years.

This decline of pupil body has been followed by a reduction of the educating body too. In 1991 there were 4370 teachers nationwide. This number has been reduced by 22 percent during the transition years, amounting to 3390 teachers nationwide nowadays in our country.

In 1991 Albanian counted 2200 schools, and today that number is down by 35 percent, to 1134 schools. In 2018 only, 150 schools in regional areas closed their doors because they didn’t have any pupils. According to data from INSTAT this decrease in numbers has brought a lower pupil per teacher ratio, in 17,8 for the academic year of 2017/2018. 

Albanian students studying abroad

A significant number of Albanian students are leaving the country to study abroad. A 2016 UNESCO data statistics about the students movements globally, counted 17,397 Albanian students having left the country to study in a foreign university. Considering Albania’s population of three million residents, this number is quite high. Comparing to USA for instance, which holds a population of 325 million people, only 72830 of its students left to study abroad. As that high number of Albanian students left the country, Albania received 2115 incoming students. 

According to the data from UNESCO regarding these numbers of outgoing Albanian students, 10,724 left to study in Italy, 1633 students attended Greek schools, 886 left for Turkey, 715 attended a school in USA, 481 in France, as well as other European countries, Canada, and even Saudi Arabian schools, with a very small number of students registered. These data however, do not include Albanian students studying in Germany during 2016, which implies that the EUROSTAT claimed statistics for these students might be even higher. 

The foreign students that came to study in Albania were mainly from Italy, with 449 student, 292 Montenegrin students, 287 from Serbia, 188 from Northern Macedonia, 155 Turkish students, and Greece with 49 students. This study from UNESCO serves to analyze the preference changes in higher education abroad among students, especially in developed countries. 

A global crisis in education

A research from the World Bank shows that the productive of 56 percent of the world’s children will be less than half of what it could have been, if these pupils would have gotten a good education and enjoyed full health. Hundreds of millions of children globally reach adulthood without any basic abilities, such as simple computation between two numbers, reading medical directions, or the bus schedule. One many ask how would these children provide parenting and education to their own future children.

A good education positively affects human capital, from which both individuals and societies profit. Education for individuals increases self-esteem, and their chances of employment and higher income. A good education could help in the strengthening of a country’s institutions within societies, encourages long-term economic growth, reduces poverty and stimulates innovation. 

Owning a good school infrastructure and having the opportunity of expenditure for education doesn’t necessarily urge knowledge in youth. Experience has shown that this can be achieved through a good teacher. The World Bank recently announced in a press release that a new focus in the development of education around the world will be “To help teachers of all levels be more effective to take education forward.”

The World Bank will be launching “Successful teachers, successful students” in supporting countries which are reforming their education systems. This global platform addresses the main challenges to make teaching more effective towards students. One of the main reasons of the education crisis in many education systems of developing countries is due to lack of data of who is learning and who’s not. 

This makes the situation difficult to change. The World Bank has suggested to schools and teachers to at least prepare students with the ability to write and read. However, more than that students should be able to interpret information, think critically, be creative, communicate well, cooperate, and be flexible. 
                    [post_title] => Education is the least financed sector 
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                    [post_date] => 2019-03-11 11:49:51
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Mar. 5- 2019 has started as a difficult year for the Albanian finances. Official data from the Finance Ministry show that as of January the budget revenue dropped by 2,5 percent comparing to 2018, or 900 million lek ($8 mln) less. The detailed statistics show that the main reason of this decline were the non-taxed revenues, but in parallel also the revenues accumulated from taxes with a slow progress.

According to the fiscal tables, the General Directorate of Taxation and the General Directorate of  Customs accumulated 200 million lek ($1,79 mln) less this Jan. 2019, than the previous year. The most problematic areas were the excise, national taxes, and the VAT, even though the latter is linked to the significant increase on business reimbursements. 

In Jan. 2019 the government returned 1,7 billion lek ($15,29 mln) worth of VAT to private enterprises, which comprises of a record turnover with an increase of 70 percent comparing to 2018. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank warned that 2019 will be more challenging for the Albanian economy, due to a Eurozone slowdown. 

The state budget seems to be experiencing the first pressures of this slowdown. The preliminary data actually suggest that the revenue progress on the budget has been also constrained in February, raising concerns that the government will be forced to cut public spendings, or buckle the VAT turnover to taxes. 

The initial budget plan foresees that the government will reimburse 1,7 billion lek worth of VAT to private enterprises each month, settling thus the lagged debts. However, if the revenues will keep displaying a slow progress then it is likely that the arrears towards business won’t only not be liquidated, but might be further deepened. 

 
                    [post_title] => Albanian economy, the budget revenue drop by 2,5 percent
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            [post_date] => 2019-03-18 14:06:20
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            [post_content] => TIRANA, March 13- In the framework of the 30th birthday of the internet, the British Council has designed a three years education program to launch five Balkan countries. The program titled 21st Century Schools seeks to provide pupils aged 10-15 years old with the skills of critical thinking, problem solving and coding. The aim of this program is to grow a future generation of innovators and entrepreneurs, and built job opportunities for them. The project costs 10 million pounds and is being invested by the British government. 

21st Century Schools will mentor and offer valuable sources to uplift the capacities of school headmasters and policymakers. The program seeks to equip all Balkans’ middle schools and 1 million pupils with micro:bit computers which will help kids learn new digital skills and coding in a fun and interactive way. Micro:bit is programmable micro computer, which portable and can be used to design modern tools and objects, like robots and even musical instruments. This tiny computer can help kids think step by step and separate commands in sequences.

British Council (5)

The program is also launched in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia. In Albania the program was launched at “Niket Dardani” middle school. As the Albanian society is facing the fruits and challenges of technological innovation, this educative program seeks to prepare its pupils with the mindset and skills needed for the jobs of the future. In our country this program involves 1200 schools, more than 4000 teachers, and around 120 thousand pupils aged 10-15. 

This program comes in collaboration with the corresponding educational institutions per country. In the PISA test 2015, the Balkan countries have significantly performed under the mean of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in the subjects of mathematics, science and and reading. The PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) test is a worldwide study by the OECD, and aims to test literacy, the competence of students in three fields: reading, mathematics, science on an indefinite scale. The PISA asks students to apply their knowledge in solving problems set in real-world contexts.

According to OECD’s results, 78 percent of pupils in Kosovo, 70 percent in FYROM, 53 percent in Albania, and 52 percent in Montenegro, lacked basic skills in mathematics when comparing to the OECD’s mean of 30 percent. This result implies a lacking in practical problem-solving skills. And this weak education capacity and its noncompliance to the market needs are the of the main reasons of the high unemployment levels in these countries. 

Data from the World Bank issued in 2018 show that the average unemployment rate in the western Balkan countries is 31.5 percent, which is one of the highest in Europe. This problem is causing region emigration which on its behalf is caused by the worsening of economic conditions and lack of proper jobs, especially for the employees with secondary and primary skills. 

And in Albania the education sector is one of the least financed one, with only 3 percent of the country’s GDP invested. Thus, the pupils are facing an uncertain future, as there is a gap between the skills they acquire from school and the employers’ demands in the job market. However, as there is a high unemployment rate among youth in the Balkans, the technological and digital sectors have job vacancies. Research conducted shows that the future is IT, with primary work of Data Scientists and Analysts, Software and App Developers, Big Data Specialists, New Tech Specialists, etc.. 

Thus it is fair that children start learning relevant skills at a younger age with an opportunity to practice them in cross-curriculum projects and programing. Thus the 21st Century Schools seeks to improve the education system in the Balkans by providing equipment, and traineeships for coaches,  school leaders and teachers, making possible the convergence of contemporary teaching methods for 1 million pupils, with a main focus in critical thinking, coding and problem-solving. 

British Council (2)
            [post_title] => UK invests 10 million pounds on the future’s jobs in Balkans
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