18/10/21: CfP for Small Size Grants – The Balkan Forum

Support regional youth initiatives in the Western Balkans with the aim of accelerating the transition to the circular economy.

18/10/21: CfP for Small Size Grants – The Balkan Forum

The Youth Cooperation Fund is a grant scheme established by the Balkan Forum, with support of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which aims to foster regional cooperation and dialogue between young people in the Western Balkan countries, namely Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia. Read more

Meta-evaluation and evaluation standards in social policy

Meta-evaluation is an “evaluation of evaluations” to improve future evaluation work. As a highly relevant topic for professionals working in social policy, the third module of the virtual Bridge-Building Summer School of Evaluation in Social Policies (August 25-27, 2021) was about meta-evaluation and evaluation standards in social policy.

15/09/21: By Rahel Kahlert, European Centre

Meta-evaluation is an “evaluation of evaluations” to improve future evaluation work. As a highly relevant topic for professionals working in social policy, the third module of the virtual Bridge-Building Summer School of Evaluation in Social Policies (25-27 August 2021) was about meta-evaluation and evaluation standards in social policy. This module was one of eight modules covered by the Summer School, which combined capacity building by enhancing knowledge and information sharing on the state-of the-art research and policy practices, exchanging shared experiences among participants, and developing ideas and proposals for “real-world” projects. “Real world” refers to the idea that evaluations take place under budget, time, data, and political constraints (see Bamberger & Mabry, 2019). One central focus was the interactive, hands-on small-group work with practical exercises to foster peer learning. Eye level interactions were core building blocks. The thirteen participants shared their expertise in either conducting or commissioning evaluations. The participants were social policy professionals from both the public and private sector in the Western Balkan region and Eastern Partnership region (in particular, Azerbaijan, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Moldova, North Macedonia, and Ukraine).

The module on meta-evaluation and standards started with a short introduction about meta-evaluation by guest speaker Thomas Vogel, head of programmes at Horizon 3000, the largest Austrian non-governmental development cooperation organisation, where evaluation plays a key role for learning and accountability. Mr. Vogel introduced the difference between evaluation synthesis and meta-evaluation. Evaluation synthesis analyses a series of evaluation reports and aggregates findings on a higher level such as programme, country, or sector level. The aim is to find out how programmes or projects can be improved. Meta-evaluation also analyses a series of evaluation reports, but then analyses the quality of each evaluation. The aim is to find out how evaluations can be improved in the future. Meta-evaluation can enhance the quality in evaluation by using and applying evaluation standards for all levels of quality including scope, methodology, independence of evaluators, utility etc.

Rahel Kahlert then provided a brief input on widely used standards in evaluation such as the UNEG Norms and Standards (updated in 2016) to be upheld in the conduct of any evaluation. Professional evaluation associations such as the German Evaluation Society or the Swiss Evaluation Society developed their own standards for evaluators to apply in their daily professional work. Common features include accuracy (methodological and technical standards), propriety (legal and ethical standards), utility (serving information needs of intended users), and feasibility (realistic, cost-effective evaluation). As evaluators, we have to remind ourselves that we are dealing with persons and intervene in a setting. Therefore, it is important to follow ethical guidelines and protect human participants similar to any research setting.

The small-group breakout sessions dealt with the question: “How can standards enhance the quality of an evaluation?” The teams of 4 to 5 persons selected two to three evaluation standards and then applied them to a “real-world” setting. The teams used the online pad tool Google JamBoard (see Figure 1) to make their case by adding post-its. For all three teams, utility stood out as important evaluation standard. Involving stakeholders was regarded as a means of enhancing utility, i.e. improving the uptake of findings. This may sometimes conflict with the standard of independence, when donors or programme staff would like to influence evaluation findings (“interested only in the good stories (positive findings)”). Accuracy can be enhanced through triangulation and cross-referencing data, which ultimately also can improve utility and uptake.

Summarily, the module on meta-evaluation and standards was a lively, interactive experience with all participants engaged, and set the scene for further productive interactions. At the end of the Summer School, participants expressed their intention that they will apply evaluation standards in their evaluation work more strongly and engage in meta-evaluation in the future to ensure evaluation quality.

27/08/21: Get Balkanized Internship Programme

Since 2019, the University of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhein-Sieg has been offering the Get Balkanized Internship Programme. They are optimistic to fully resume the programme in 2022 and fund up to 20 vacancies in the partner countries Albania, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Kosovo and Serbia.

27/08/21: Get Balkanized Internship Programme

Since 2019, the University of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhein-Sieg has been offering the Get Balkanized Internship Programme. They are optimistic to fully resume the programme in 2022 and fund up to 20 vacancies in the partner countries Albania, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Kosovo and Serbia

In the following find the most important information on the programme’s framework conditions. Have as well a look at the cartoon that is summarising the programme, available here.

Please send an email expressing your interest and annex the corresponding vacancy to michael.sauer@h-brs.de by Friday, 27 August 2021

New project: Updated review of Western Balkan economies regarding the EPSR

The European Centre is currently updating the six reviews of the Western Balkan countries regarding the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR).

New project: Updated review of Western Balkan economies regarding the EPSR

The European Centre is currently updating the six reviews of the Western Balkan countries: Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Republic of North Macedonia, & Serbia regarding the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR). The European Centre team is working with country experts to create high-quality reports to monitor the countries’ achievements and reform efforts of social rights as candidate and potential candidate countries and preparing a comparative overview report for 2021. Within the framework of the Employment and Social Affairs Platform 2 (ESAP 2) project that is implemented by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and funded by the EU. The European Centre was also engaged as the international expert organization in the reviews prepared in 2018/19 and coordinated the 2020 reviews. Read more

15/10/21: CfP Support to ‘Western Balkans 6’ for strengthening media freedom & fighting domestic & gender-based violence

The purpose of this Call for Proposals is to contribute to reforms processes underpinned by EU integration by supporting civil society actors in the ‘Western Balkans 6’ countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia.

15/10/21: CfP Strengthening civil society capacities & resilience in Armenia – The EU Delegation to Armenia 

The Balkan Trust for Democracy’s financial and technical assistance for this sub-granting process is part of the larger Norwegian efforts to support Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia.

THE PURPOSE OF THE CALL

The purpose of this Call for Proposals is to contribute to reforms processes underpinned by EU integration by supporting civil society actors in the ‘Western Balkans 6’ countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia.

This sub-granting scheme of the Balkan Trust for Democracy (BTD) is being realized with the support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade.

Support is given to two priority areas:

I. Media Freedom
II. Fight against Domestic and Gender-based Violence 

This is an open call, and project proposals will be assessed continuously from 5 August 2020 up until 15 October 2021. Read more

Online article: Working with marginalized groups: towards more holistic strategies for social exclusion reduction of the Roma community in Kosovo

Online article: Working with marginalized groups: towards more holistic strategies for social exclusion reduction of the Roma community in Kosovo by Balidemaj

This paper aims to identify the successful strategies, through literature review, to be used in Kosovo to help integrate the Roma community and to reduce the community’s overall social exclusion. This paper further examines the gaps between strategies and implementation results in reducing the social exclusion of the Roma through experiences of other European countries with similar political and socio-economic history as Kosovo. Read more

31/05/21 APPEAR: Call for partnerships & scholarships

APPEAR contributes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The overall objective is to strengthen the scientific foundation and institutional capacities in higher education, research andmanagement in the partner countries through academic partnerships with Austrian higher education institutions and master’s and PhD scholarships.

31/05/21 APPEAR: Call for partnerships & scholarships

 APPEAR contributes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The overall objective is to strengthen the scientific foundation and institutional capacities in higher education, research andmanagement in the partner countries through academic partnerships with Austrian higher education institutions and master’s and PhD scholarships. Furthermore, APPEAR aims at increasing the commitment to international cooperation and development at Austrian higher education institutions.

APPEAR is a programme of the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC) with the aim to realise its strategy for support of higher education and research for development on an academic institutional level.  Read more

Guidelines for Applicants

25/02/21 HERAS+: Call for Research Grants

HERAS+ Call for proposals for Research Grants open from 25/11/2020 to 25/02/2021

The ZSI and the Ministry of Education and Science (MES) of Kosovo launch together a call for scientific networking and project cooperation between researchers from public universities and universities of applied sciences in Austria, in Kosovo and the Western Balkan region with special attention to young and early stage researchers.

25/02/21 HERAS+: Call for proposals for Research Grants open 

The ZSI and the Ministry of Education and Science (MES) of Kosovo launch together a call for scientific networking and project cooperation between researchers from public universities and universities of applied sciences in Austria, in Kosovo and the Western Balkan region with special attention to young and early stage researchers. The call is part of the project “HERAS+” which is funded by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and co-financed by the Ministry of Education and Science (MES). Read more

An Economic Outlook to the Republic of Kosovo and the recent impact of COVID-19

Due to its rapid spread the government of the Republic of Kosovo, in accordance with the recommendations of the National Institute of Public Health in Kosovo, and similar to most other countries in the world, starting from March 13, 2020 imposed measures which restricted many economic activities and then restricted the movement of people.

By Muhamet Klinaku, Department of Labour Market, Employment Agency of the Republic of Kosovo

The COVID-19 pandemic which appeared at the end of 2019, first in China and then spread throughout the globe reached Kosovo in March 2020. As a result, and due to its rapid spread the government of the Republic of Kosovo, in accordance with the recommendations of the National Institute of Public Health in Kosovo, and similar to most other countries in the world, starting from March 13, 2020 imposed measures which restricted many economic activities and then restricted the movement of people. Among other measures, all hotel and gastronomy businesses, interurban transport and other businesses that sell specialized goods (textiles, etc.) were closed. As a result, most Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are already affected by the coronavirus in most countries of the world, and Kosovo is not an exception to having economic implications for the country.

Kosovo belongs to the group of upper-middle income countries group. Similar to the average growth trend in the respective group of countries, Kosovo has experienced constant growth rates over the past years. Figure 1 reveals that between 2010 and 2019 average real GDP growth was around 6%, varying between 3% and 9% over the years.

GDP growth rates have to some degree translated into increased employment opportunities and decreased unemployment throughout the years, as one of main economic issues that is challenging the Kosovo economy. According to the Kosovo Agency of Statistics, shown in Figure 2, labour force participation in the working age population has increased from 37.6% in 2015 to 40.5% in 2019, reflecting a decreasing rate of inactive people in the working age population.

In terms of women participation in employment, data reveal a persistently large degree of disadvantaging women in the labour market (see Figure 3).The same trend has followed in terms of employment rate (employed people in the total of the working age population) which has grown from 25.2% to 30.1% between 2015 and 2019. More importantly, the rate of unemployed people has decreased in the respective period, falling from 32.9% in 2015 to 25.7% in 2019. Despite small variations across the annual rates, data suggest a solid positive economic trend before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Youth unemployment also showed a decreasing trend (see Figure 4), reducing from 57.7% in 2015 to 49.4% in 2019. On the other hand, share of vulnerable groups in total employment has decreased from 22.8% to 18.8% between 2015 and 2019, which suggests for an average growing trend of more quality and decent work opportunities in the economy.

However, COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to affect the economy beyond initial expectations, so the situation remains uncertain. The Kosovo Government has estimated a GDP contraction of around 3% in 2020, while World Bank latest estimations suggests that it may be as high as 8.8%. The large decrease is due to worsening of the economic indicators, which have deteriorated as compared to initial estimations. However, World Bank outlook projections beyond 2020 are positive, suggesting for a GDP growth of over 3% in 2021 and over 4% in 2022. About 80 percent of Kosovo travel service exports are driven by Kosovar diaspora, whose arrivals in bigger numbers are expected to happen as soon as travel measures will be lifted, anticipated to influence spending and investment (World Bank Report, 2020).Despite a positive outlook that prevailed until 2019, COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in 2020, followed with restrictive policies by the government, has temporary reversed the growth trend. It has negatively affected economic activities, with stronger impact on the private sector, both in terms of income and jobs. Working hours have been reduced and many businesses offered their employees leaves of absence without pay (World Bank Business Pulse Survey, 2020). Some preliminary studies suggest that the number of unemployed has increased dramatically during the second quarter of 2020, The Kosovo Employment Agency has recorded around 80,000 additional job seekers[1].

[1] Source: Employment Agency of Republic of Kosovo , Report for 2020.

30/12/20 CfP: Welfare state and social policies in the CEE region

The peer-reviewed, open access scientific journal Problemy Polityki Społecznej/Social Policy Issues invites original paper submissions for a special issue to bring together papers exploring a broad array of research questions related to welfare state and social policies in the CEE region.

30/12/20 CfP: Welfare state and social policies in the CEE region

Journal of Social Policy Issues: Cfp on Special Issue “Welfare state and social policies in the CEE region: past developments, present challenges and prospects for the future”

Deadline: 30 December 2020

University of Warsaw invites to submit original papers to the special issue of Problemy Polityki Społecznej. Social Policy Issues – a peer-reviewed, OPEN ACCESS journal, published by University of Warsaw.

The planned Special Issue “Welfare state and social policies in the CEE region: past developments, present challenges and prospects for the future” aims to bring together papers exploring a broad array of research questions related to welfare state and social policies in the CEE region, that may touch upon past developments, present challenges as well as future prospects. By CEE region we mean a large group of countries including Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine as well as sub-country regions, e.g. east of Germany.

The best paper submitted to this issue will receive an award of 400 euro. Read more