Joining the ESS is extremely important not only because it enables participating counties to collect high-quality comparative data, but it also promotes its use for better quality research, as well as an input for evidence-informed policymaking. In that vein, WBESS held its first National Meeting in Albania on Friday, October 9 for promoting ESS. Participants to the event comprised members of the research community as well as representatives from policy institutions. The panel of speakers, composed of Mr. Nenad Celarevic, WBESS; Ms. Mirela Muça, National Agency for Scientific Research and Innovation; Mr. Alban Nelaj, National Coordinator for ESS Round 6 and Round 9; Ms. Alma Kondi, National Institute of Statistics INSTAT; and Ms. Teuta Xhindi, Mediterranean University of Albania, discussed the benefits of participating in such a survey, as well as the challenges in preparation for the potential participation in the upcoming 10th round. The discussion was moderated by National Focal Points, Orkidea Xhaferaj and Abi Dodbiba. The organization of the meeting was facilitated by the Centre for Science and Innovation for Development, a member of the WBESS Regional Network.
Panellists and participants agreed on the advantages of having free access to the wealth of ESS data, which is comparable across countries and years. Additionally, they talked about the very rigorous methodology under which ESS is conducted. Though challenging, once completed, it provides a great learning opportunity for local actors; its insights can be used in their other work as well.
The themes that emerged from the discussion touched upon:
- The importance of collaboration among actors within the country, as well as at the regional level;
- The importance of strategic advocacy at an institutional level, particularly because participation in ESS is only possible if the Government of Albania initiates the procedure for membership;
- The importance of carefully planning the fieldwork process;
- The importance of disseminating ESS data to a wide audience and ensuring its use for research, policymaking, civic action, etc.;
- The importance of retaining the methodological know-how and learning within local actors.
Ms. Muca, on behalf of the agency she leads, pledged to support advocacy efforts in the country, particularly with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. WBESS will provide its assistance in this endeavour.