Bilateral cooperation between Albania and European and non-European countries in the field of education is coordinated and implemented by the Ministry of Education and Sport. It is defined in bilateral agreements, programmes and protocols on cooperation. MoES is responsible for operational implementation of bilateral scholarships in the field of higher education.
These bilateral-multerial acts enable exchange of university teachers, students, scientists, experts, as well as direct cooperation of education institutions and language learning opportunities.
Bilateral programmes of mobility in higher education are based on bilateral agreements and programmes involving scholarship exchange. Scholarships are awarded to students, teachers, scholars and researchers and fall under following categories: semester /partial studies; scholaships for undergraduate, graduate and PhD programmes; partial PhD studies; postdoctoral studies, research scholarships and research visits; scholarships for language summer courses.
Promotion of Albanian language, literature and culture is one of Albanian policy priorities. MoES support learning Albanian language in Hungary, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy.
Educational cooperation of primary and secondary schools encompasses cooperation with relevant ministries in other countries. Scholarships' exchange in the field of primary and secondary education refers to scholarships for professional training for teachers working in Albanian schools.
Albanian culture and language classes abroad are intended for the children of Albanian citizens living abroad and for the children who live abroad but whose family language is Albanian. Albanian classes are open to other children who wish to learn Albanian language and about Albanian culture. The Ministry of Education and Sport organizes and finances Albanian pupils with Albanian books.
Albania schools cooperate directly on projects with schools in other countries in the areas of common interest such as:school management, education for democratic citizenship, teaching cultural heritage, information and communication technologies, human rights, as well as on other subjects important for the development of human potential.
Multilateral Programmes and Initiatives
This cooperation is achieved through various multilateral organizations and initiatives, such as: the United Nations and its specialized organization for education, science and culture (UNESCO), as well as the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Council of Europe, OECD (Organization for economic cooperation and development) and other relevant organizations.
Albania is a member of UNESCO. UNESCO is active on all levels of education, from pre-school to higher education and adult education. The main areas of its activity and connected initiatives in which Albania has actively participated are: Education for All, UN Literacy Decade, and Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, and World Heritage Education.
The Ministry of Education and Sport have a closely collaboration with UNICEF. UNICEF is working with the government to create a rights-based, comprehensive educational policy and to promote Child Friendly Schools (CFS) that embrace a multi-dimensional concept while addressing the total needs of the child as a learner. Together with the cross-sectorial action (addressing out-of-school factors and barriers of inclusion), these are the major means through which UNICEF advocates for and promotes quality and equity in education.
The school as a community center is an initiative undertaken by the Ministry of Education and Sports in 2013 with foreign donors ( UNICEF, Save the Children, World Vision , Terre des Hommes). This initiative aiming at re-dimensioning and improving the quality and the role of schools in the Albanian education system not only from the teaching and learning perspective but also in making schools more accessible for the community. “The schools as a community center” initiative is seen as an opportunity to provide a more quality education for all students and embed democratic values, ensure social, emotional, and health welfare of students, engagement and development of the community. The initiative enables possibilities for joint decision-making, respect for diversity, and the use of community resources in supporting the schools.
Albania became member of the Council of Europe (CoE) on 13 July 1995. Following its accession to the CoE, an Information Office was established in Tirana, in June 2003, according to the resolution (99)9 adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 28 July 1999 at the 677th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies, aiming to reinforce the previous Information and Documentation Centres.
The work programme is focused on the following topics: education for democratic citizenship, learning and teaching modern history, learning and teaching language, inter-cultural and inter-religious education, education of minorities and the Roma community, preventing violence in schools, including European dimension in education, developing education policies and continuous professional development of teachers.
"Regional Support for Inclusive Education" is a regional project for South East Europe. It aims to enhance social inclusion and social cohesion in the region (in line with the Beneficiaries' commitments to European Union accession and Council of Europe standards) by promoting inclusive education and training. The project will promote the concept of inclusive education as a reform principle that respects and caters for diversity amongst all learners, with a specific focus on those who are at a higher risk of marginalisation and exclusion.
Albania cooperates or is a member country of several scientific organizations that also provide support to education activities in its member and partner countries. Thus the Ministry of Education and Sport is part are CERN, WISE, CEEPUS, ect.
Cooperation within the framework of the European Union
Open Method of Coordination
Education falls within the competence of the member states but they cooperate by sharing best practices, operating thematic working groups and developing indicators, benchmarks and qualifications frameworks in order to achieve their common goals in education. This is done through the open method of coordination (OMC). MES has decided its representatives in OMC aiming to actively follow the activities predicted within the framework of respective working groups. Participation in these working groups according to respective themes will continue also in planned meeting enabling the benefiting of experiences and best practices from several countries that participate in the following working groups:
- Modernization of Higher Education
- Adult Learning
- Digital and Online Learning
- Promotion of citizenship and common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination by education
European Union’s education programmes and initiatives
Of all the Western Balkan countries currently participating in the Tempus programme, Albania has been involved the longest. Since 1992, Tempus programme opened the door to the European academic community and gave Albanian lecturers one of the first opportunities to connect with their counterparts in the region and in Europe.
For more than 20 years since then, the Tempus programme has played a vital role in promoting cooperation between Albanian and EU higher education institutions. During the last years, Albanian institutions have also been particularly involved in regional cooperation projects with other Western Balkan countries. Since 1992, all Albanian public universities and some private ones have participated in 141 Tempus projects in total.
The number of the applications significantly increased during the last three years. From 28 applications in 2011, Albania has submitted 65 applications in 2013, which is the highest number of proposals since 1992. Also, the number of the selected projects has notably increased from 5 projects in 2012 to 9 projects in 2013.
The overall budget of Tempus that Albania has benefited since 1992 is 36.75 million Euros. During the last there years, the annual budget has significantly increased: in 2011 the budget allocated to Albania was 1 million Euros per year, in 2012 it increased up to 1.9 Million Euro and in 2013 the budget reached the peak of 3.8 Million Euros per year. It is absolutely positive that the entire annual budget for Albania is absorbed from the Albanian universities which are still implementing 21 ongoing Tempus projects.
Tempus funds and projects have been particularly instrumental in retraining and upgrading academic staff. A high percentage of Albanian academic staff has been trained abroad by the programme. Tempus has provided opportunities to improve soft skills and to acquire knowledge on new teaching methodologies and different processes of higher education reform, in particular through a high number of individual mobility grants, given between 1992 and 2006 in Tempus I, II and III. It has also had an important impact in raising the capacities of universities, in terms of institutional management and governance.
Two overall long‐term processes, the Stabilisation and Association Agreement and the building of the European Higher Education Area, have shaped Tempus cooperation in Albania since 2000 and the dynamics of both have led to the updating of higher education priorities on a yearly basis.
Tempus has been crucial in supporting the reform of the Bologna process in particular, by introducing the three cycles of study in all Albanian higher education institutions and supporting the development of unified curricula that comply with Bologna criteria. Curriculum development projects have also supported the introduction of ECTS and the Diploma Supplement in all Albanian higher education institutions.
Study programmes, mainly in fields such as natural science, environmental science, geology, agriculture, engineering, nursing, tourism and cultural heritage have been updated. Lifelong learning courses have been developed in the fields of civil society, environmental policy, transport policy, public administration reform, public health, justice and teacher training. The development of information management systems, institutional evaluations, and continuing education and university strategic plans has also been supported by Tempus.
Teaching methods are continuously changing within faculties, particularly due to projects that focus on the capacity‐building of academic staff.
Tempus is considered an important instrument from a quality assurance perspective. The ‘Albanian Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education’ was created through the support of a Tempus project in 1999, entitled “Support for an Accreditation System in Albania”.
Tempus has also been highly effective in developing human resources and building capacity in the public administration, civil society and NGOs. It has, moreover, led to greater cooperation, not just in Tempus projects, but also at the national level in general.
Regional Cooperation, other programmes and initiatives
CEEPUS (Central European Exchange Programme for University Studies) is an academic exchange programme for students and university teachers from Central Europe encompassing 15 countries. The main CEEPUS activity is based on university networks operating joint programmes, ideally leading to joint degrees. In addition to the mobility of students and academic staff inside the networks, CEEPUS also supports mobility outside CEEPUS networks, the so-called freemover mobility. The programme is nationally implemented by the Ministry of Education and Sport.
Albania is part of the South East European Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (SEECEL) is a regional organisation aimed at ensuring a contribution of education to the competitive standing of SEE countries. The countries of South Eastern Europe have signed up to a number of benchmarks which aim to promote more developed learning economies. Enshrined within the European Charter for Small Enterprise and the European Small Business Act, lifelong entrepreneurial learning stands apart as a specific area for development. Since 2013, 15 pilot institutions from Albania and respectively 8 9-year schools, 4 high schools, 2 universities and IED, are implementing a regional project for pilot competency entrepreneurship at all levels of education.
EDI as a leading institution of network SEECEL member has the responsibility of coordinating the pilot institutions from Albania and creating sustainability for policies related to the competence of entrepreneurship.
The Education Reform Initiative of South Eastern Europe was established in 2004 as a regional platform for cooperation in the field of education and training. Albania is part of ERISEE since 2010 and cooperates with a number of other countries and international organizations.
Albania is also an active participant in a number of the European Training Foundation (ETF) programmes and projects. The ETF supports the MoSWY with the drafting of new VET legislation. ETF does so in collaboration with stakeholders at national, regional and local levels, including social partners and civil society, as well as GIZ, the ILO and other donors. In addition, work continues to implement the Albanian Qualifications Framework (AQF). In 2014 ETF commissioned a demand side analysis to establish a national list of occupations and regional demands for qualifications which will serve as inputs into a reorganised network of VET providers. ETF provides expertise and support to establish an AQF task force, to take stock of and analyse existing vocational qualifications and to further develop the legislative and institutional framework for the AQF. ETF supports the clustering of VET institutions and the development towards multifunctional centres within regional networks.
In addition, Albania is involved in the ETF regional projects on entrepreneurial learning (SBA assessment), and on continuous professional development of VET teachers. Furthermore, and in cooperation with Cedefop, the ETF supports implementation of the Riga Conclusions of Directors General for Vocational Training and the Bruges Process Review in the EU candidate countries.
The Republic of Albania has had Member States status in the International Organization of La Francophonie (IOF). Albania has been very active in activities of promoting foreign laungages and learning French, Italian and German in the Albania school system. Albania promote the development of the bilingual sections in schools.