Rebuilding Dreams: Unleashing Hope with EU4Schools

UNDP Albania

August 3, 2023
Two years since the start of the EU4Schools programme, 34 education institutions have been completed, enabling 10087 children and academic staff to return to brand new schools-which have made learning and teaching more interesting, more productive, and more fun.

As the person in charge of communication for the UNDP I find myself immersed in countless media inquiries about the EU4Schools Programme, a transformative initiative that has brought hope to Albania's education sector after the devastating earthquake of 2019.

Because as they say, "Seeing is believing," I never miss a chance to invite reporters to embark on a first-hand journey with me to witness the remarkable transformation of schools under the programme.

I am confident they will be pleasantly surprised by the scene that unfolds before their eyes. I know I won't have to answer questions like, "Is there a gym?" or "How many classrooms are there?” “Are the new facilities finally accessible for children with disabilities”? and countless other questions.

The remarkable transformation of these educational institutions speaks for itself, leaving visitors in wonder.
The schools they encounter on this trip are nothing short of state-of-the-art facilities, meticulously reconstructed and rehabilitated with a budget of €75 million from the European Union and EUR 765,000 from the UNDP. The 64 educational facilities are located in the 11 most-earthquake affected municipalities.

The impact of the EU4Schools programme is immense, touching the lives of 24,500 students, children, and teachers who faced uncertainty after the earthquake. 

The reconstruction process adhered to the principles of #BuildBackBetter and #BuildBackTogether, ensuring not just functional buildings, but structures designed to withstand future challenges.

Within the walls of these schools, the highest international standards of quality and safety have been implemented. Equipped with renewable energy sources and designed to be fully accessible for pupils and children with disabilities, these schools represent a tangible example of inclusivity and progress.

What makes this programme truly unique is the active involvement of the communities in the reconstruction process. Local voices were heard, and the schools were built together with the community, fostering a sense of ownership, and ensuring long-term sustainability.

Already, 44 education facilities have been restored and are bustling with over 11,000 students and 783 teachers. The remaining 20 facilities are well on their way to completion, offering renewed hope to countless others awaiting their turn to step into their cherished learning environments.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the EU4Schools programme is the ground-breaking transparency portal which has revolutionized the approach to reconstruction efforts, setting a new standard for accountability and trust. With real-time information on each facility's progress readily available, it further showcases the commitment to transparency and openness.

“With EU4Schools, we've set forth on a journey of transformation, not just in rebuilding schools but in shaping a sustainable future for generations to come.  I am grateful to the European Union for this strategic investment”- says Monica Merino, the UNDP Resident Representative in Albania.