Improving Quality and Strengthening Governance in Albania’s Education System

April 10, 2014

Since 2006, with technical expertise and pooled funding from the International Development Association (IDA) and two other development banks, Albania has improved the quality of classroom learning conditions for over 560,000 basic and upper secondary students, helped to increase gross enrollment in general secondary education to over 90 percent, and introduced governance reforms in universities throughout the country.


Education outcomes and the performance of the education sector was recognized as a key determinant of Albania’s future competitiveness and economic growth. However, in 2005, education outcomes were poor. Educational attainment, at 8.6 years of schooling on average, lagged behind neighboring countries and was almost six years below the European Union (EU) average. Enrollment in secondary education was also low at 50 percent on average and 25 percent in rural areas.  Migration from rural mountainous regions into urban areas led to overcrowding, and many schools were forced to run two and even three shifts. Learning outcomes in these conditions suffered, made worse by poor infrastructure and a lack of pedagogical materials.



The first operation of its kind in Albania, the Albania Education Excellence and Equity Project (EEEP) supported the implementation of a sector-wide reform program using a pooled fund approach.  The World Bank combined its resources and expertise with those of the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB), the European Investment Bank (EIB), and the Government of Albania to address four key priorities laid out in the National Education Strategy (NES): management capacity and governance, teaching and learning conditions, education infrastructure, and higher education reform. This strategically relevant and innovative design provided flexibility in project interventions according to changing country conditions, such as overcrowding in urban schools due to rapid migration, and also facilitated coordination and synergies among the three donors. The EEEP’s implementation procedures were streamlined under the World Bank’s management, which minimized the Government’s burden to comply with multiple donors’ rules.

" The conditions of the new infrastructure have had a direct impact on improving quality in our school. Teachers were receiving training before, but in the absence of better conditions, not much could happen. In addition to achieving full enrollment, other students from nearby areas want to join this school, simply because of the new facilities. We cannot take any more students, because this school is full. "

Luljeta Prençi

director, Ibrahim Rugova Secondary School, Tirana



With IDA funding, the EEEP resulted in several key outcomes for the education sector:    

  • Improved relevance of curricula in basic and secondary education through the introduction of new student-centered curricula benefiting 560,000 students nationwide.  According to the Albanian Center for Economic Research, between 2007 and 2011, teacher satisfaction with the relevance of the curriculum increased from 50 to 75 percent. Along with the development of a curriculum framework and learning standards, the EEEP also supported teacher training for over 12,500 teachers.
  • Enhanced quality of physical classroom conditions through investments in infrastructure and equipment. The EEEP supported the construction or rehabilitation of 607 classrooms and laboratories and the provision of over 24,000 computers and Internet connectivity to schools. According to Ministry of Education and Science (MoES) data, the student-computer ratio fell from 46 to 14 (urban) and 133 to 13 (rural). 
  • Strengthened institutional governance in higher education through technical assistance to develop and implement the Higher Education Strategy 2013–20, key financing reforms, and standards for higher education institutions that were used to launch a Higher Education Program Ranking Initiative. All universities in Albania now have strategic plans and external governing boards.

Bank Group Contribution

The World Bank provided US$15 million of IDA funds, or 20 percent of the EEEP’s total value of US$75 million. The pooled funding model allowed the World Bank to leverage its funds to achieve significant results. The Bank also supervised the administrative and fiduciary aspects of the project on behalf of the other cofinanciers. Civil works activities accounted for approximately 50 percent of project funds, and teaching and learning equipment accounted for another 30 percent. The final 20 percent supported technical assistance for curriculum revision, higher education governance reform, development of an Education Management Information System (EMIS), and other activities.    


The EEEP was designed to support country systems and facilitate cooperation and coordination among partners. The World Bank, CEB, and EIB each provided US$15 million to the EEEP, and all three cofinanciers participated in the semi-annual review meetings organized by the MoES. The review meetings provided opportunities for the Government and donor partners to review progress on the annual plans of EEEP activities and to endorse next year’s plan based on consistency with project objectives, cost effectiveness, and sustainability.


Moving Forward

The Government of Albania has expressed interest in a follow-up operation. The nature of this operation is not yet determined, though it will be based on the new Government’s priorities for 2013–17 and on lessons learned from implementation of the EEEP. The World Bank is preparing a series of analytical products in the education sector and will facilitate a stakeholder consultation forum for the new operation in May 2014. Along with lessons learned from the EEEP, the analytical work will help to prioritize cost-effective investments in the sector.

basic and upper secondary students in Albania have benefited from improved quality of classroom learning conditions
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