The Republic of Kosovo is a landlocked state in the Balkans region, and a landlocked country in south-east Europe.
Kosovo is home to 1.8 million people, most of whom are ethnic Albanians, with significant minorities of Bosnians and Serbs.
Roughly 60% of the country living in rural communities with the remaining 40% based in urban centres.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Kosovo since 2004.
Kosovo remains one of the lowest-income countries in Europe, with around 20% of the population facing poverty and 5% extreme poverty.
Children are disproportionately affected, with almost 25% vulnerable to poverty, including more than 7% living in extreme poverty and deprivation.
Children who live in poverty may face long-term effects in terms of educational outcomes, their physical and intellectual development, and their psychological health.
The number of young children in early education programmes is very low in Kosovo. Around 5% of young children aged 0-5 attend preschool and 19% attend preschool and pre-primary. As a result, only 18% of children aged 3-6 have sufficient levels of literacy and numeracy.
Early childhood education can be particularly beneficial for disadvantaged children, setting them up for success in the further stages of education, as well as contributing to their development and social inclusion.
Unemployment is one of the greatest risk factors for poverty. Over 25% of the population are unemployed, and almost 50% of young people aged 15-24 years.
In addition, it is estimated that up to 40% of people are in informal, and thus insecure, employment.
Youth unemployment is linked to a long-term reduction in their wages and an increased likelihood of subsequent periods of unemployment. It can also mean poorer physical and mental health outcomes for young people.