The opening of schools in the time of COVID-19

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 14, 2020 15:33

The opening of schools in the time of COVID-19

TIRANA, Sep. 14 - In the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, thousands of students in Albania started their new academic year this Monday. However, this decade witnessed 126 thousand less students than the previous one, with immigration of the youth on the rise.

INSTAT shows that the number of students in middle school during the last decade has decreased by 30 percent, while compared to 1991, the number has decreased by 45 percent. In 2019 alone, about 295 thousand students were registered in middle school, thus dropping significantly compared to 421 thousand in 2010 and over 540 thousand in 1991.

As a result, 9-year education today has about 126 thousand fewer students, compared to a decade ago. INSTAT claims that declining fertility and high emigration are the two factors that are emptying schools, and will become a challenge for the sustainable development in the country.

According to INSTAT data, the participation rate in education of children in middle school belonging to the official age group of schooling (NER indicator) was 93.9 last year, while in 2018 this indicator was 95.6. This statistic shows that in 2019 out of 100 children who have the age and obligation to attend secondary school, only 94 children go to school from more than 95.6 percent that was the participation in 2018.

There has been a similar decline among young people attending high school. Last year, 76.2 percent of young people in this age group attended high school, compared to 77.4 percent in 2018. UNICEF has stated that school dropout in Albania is linked to extreme poverty, low level of inter-institutional cooperation with the community, negative phenomena within society, population movements, migration, etc.

Considering that this is the second hit that the Albanian education system has taken in a short time span - the earthquake that hit the country on November 26 last year dispersed many students to other schools - the rate might be even lower in 2020.

Prime Minister Rama has announced that no more than 20 students will be allowed inside classrooms and that classes will be conducted during up to three shifts, depending on the school.

Furthermore, upon entering the school premises, students will be lined up at a distance of two meters between each other, while staff will measure each student's body temperature through a digital thermometer.

The Democratic Party has opposed the government's decision, claiming that it has no solid plan to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 14, 2020 15:33