Tomorrow is International Children’s Day!
At least, it will be in 49 countries. If you’re reading from Tunisia, New Zealand, Bangladesh, or Bahamas, you’ll be thinking this is old news. Kids in Cyprus, Ireland, Kenya, and Malaysia are going to have to wait several more months for their special day. Maybe we could keep them busy with some stamp collecting…
The celebration began in 1925, when the World Conference on Child Welfare in Geneva announced the first International Children’s Day.
However, the June 1 event—which is technically the International Day for Protection of Children—first took place in 1950, after the Women’s International Democratic Federation established the celebration during its congress in Moscow in November 1949.
The 4th Council of the WIDF in January 1951. By this time, the US House Committee on Un-American Activities had declared WIDF a ‘communist front’ organisation, which led to WIDF losing consultative status with the UN. [Image credit]
While some countries follow the UN in celebrating World Children’s Day on November 20, many former Soviet Union states and current/former communist states continue to use June 1 to raise awareness of children’s rights and issues affecting them.
TL;DR Albania will be celebrating tomorrow.
A poster announcing festivities in Tirana for International Children’s Day 2018 [image credit]
As you may have spotted from my first post, I will find any excuse to spend time with my beloved Albanian stamp collection. This time, no tenuous link required!
The set in my own collection, though, is from 1965.
At the top of each stamp we see R.P. Shqiperise (Republika Popullore e Shqipërisë). Alongside the image of one or more children, a symbol reads “1 QERSHOR 1965”, marking the June 1 date. The postmarks are largely indecipherable, though the ‘NE’ of Tiranë is visible on the 2 and 15 lek stamps.
The issue was initially released on June 29, 1965, presumably commemorating that International Children’s Day had happened that year, and shows children doing useful activities and generally having fun!
The 1960s was an especially significant time for children in Albania, since the education system was reorganised into four categories:
- A compulsory general programme for students aged 6-14, which included ideological, political, physical, and military elements.
- Secondary education, for students aged approximately 14-18. Schools offered both general programmes and vocational or professional programmes, training students to work in agriculture, education, and healthcare, among other roles.
- Higher education (for free!), with 3-5 year programmes. Graduates of full-time programmes were required to complete a nine-months probationary period in industrial production and three months of military training.
The 1965 stamps do not explicitly focus on education, but perhaps there are some hints…
The green 3 lek stamp depicts two children playing with a construction-themed toy. The children are too young for secondary education, but the reforms brought the education system into line with industry.
The pink 15 lek stamp shows a girl reading (presumably about philately, since she’s smiling!). During the 1960s, the number of employed women with vocational secondary education increased considerably, from under 12% in 1965 to nearly 18% by 1970. A similar growth was seen for women with higher education (35.5% to 43.3%), and the numbers continued to rise through the 70s and 80s. 
 Fatos Tarifa, “Disappearing from Politics: Social Change and Women in Albania” in Women in the Politics of Postcommunist Eastern Europe, ed. Marilyn Rueschemeyer (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1998), 271.