Education in the Western Balkans

Findings from PISA

image of Education in the Western Balkans

The Western Balkans region has clear aspirations to improve its economic competitiveness and integrate further into Europe. A highly skilled population is critical to achieving these goals, which makes creating and maintaining high quality and equitable education systems a vital part of regional development efforts. Results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) show that learning outcomes in the region have improved over time, but that the improvement has not been equitable. Some students are performing similarly to students from countries in the European Union, while others are lagging further behind.

This report, developed in co-operation with the European Commission and UNICEF, analyses PISA data in detail to identify the strengths, challenges and unique features of education systems in the Western Balkans. Drawing upon a rich knowledge base of education policy and practice in the region, it makes recommendations about how systems in the region can improve learning for all students. This report will be of interest to regional policy-makers as well as individuals who wish to learn more about education in the Western Balkans.


Western Balkan participation and outcomes in PISA 2018

The turn of the new millennium marked a period of stability and economic progress in Eastern Europe, with many countries from the area experiencing record growth and joining the European Union (EU). However, the six economies of the Western Balkans The European Union defines the Western Balkans as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, the Republic of North Macedonia and Serbia (European Union, 2019[13]).*All references to Kosovo, whether the territory, institutions or population, in this text are without prejudice to positions on status and shall be understood in full compliance with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244/99 and the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on Kosovo’s declaration of independence. (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia) have struggled to achieve the same level of social and economic development as many neighbouring countries. Notably, the region’s average per-capita gross domestic product (GDP) remains much lower than that of Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) The OECD considers CEEC to be composed of Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia. For this paper, results that represent the CEEC average are calculated without data from Albania to avoid overlap with results that represent the Western Balkans average. and unemployment rates, especially among youth, are very high in many parts of the Western Balkans (Table 1.2). Economies in the region have introduced reforms to improve their competitiveness and strengthen governance, motivated in part by the eventual goal of EU membership.




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