May 3, 2018 | Thursday

School as a basic human right

When I was seven, my dad sent me on a traditional dance course. I wasn’t very fond of this kind of dancing, but I soon understood that I had a hidden love for folklore and the costumes. For the next 12 years, I never stopped dancing.

Even though I was happy, I didn’t enjoy school. I felt I was not learning enough. I was concerned about my homework and the education I received in this big building, just three minutes walk from my flat. As a kid, I was fixated on the idea that school and education only took place at “Ismail Qemali” primary school.

And this was precisely when my education started to flow. Here it all began… learning Albanian history, the music of Beethoven and Mozart, sociology, geography, English. In the beginning the subjects were easy to understand, and then, slowly, I would turn to the more challenging material. After our nine years of primary education, my friends and I had gained so much knowledge, and lost a lot of knowledge too, as we prepared to go out into the real world of work.

I tried to create the connection between the first, second, and third paragraphs by pointing to my formal education and non-formal education. The beauty of my childhood days is the fact I did both, and frankly speaking, a kid who does both will surely have a more progressive mind-set than others do. In nine years, I covered a lot.

Education in Kosovo’s schools has its challenges. In a society that has undergone war, not long ago, and suffered in the education system even longer (the 80s and 90s were especially turbulent), it is justifiable to stumble. Nevertheless, international donors and the European Union in Kosovo have invested millions so that our education can be qualitative and distinctive, starting with the institutional actors, schools, teachers and us – the pupils and students, for us all to have an education at its best and to be ready for what the future brings.

In the following weeks, the European Union in Kosovo will launch its Campaign on Quality Education. The questions we can all ask ourselves are: how much did we contribute to this quality education, each of us? Are we taking giant leaps or barely grasping the basics? Can we create a generation different from our own, with a better understanding of the Albanian language with more outspoken young people?

Are we integrating different communities in our education system? How good are we at guiding students towards their talents and passions? Should we still teach people with special needs separately from other people, and is this good or bad for school education?

A quality education is an inclusive one, but also one that spans school and the outside world. A quality education system strives towards original thought and not imitation. It develops teachers who enter the classroom with an open mind.

We definitely have strong and talented teachers and students, but we could improve. Different students have made us proud by succeeding in competitions in Kosovo and abroad, but now it is time for us to improve the curricula and our books and to bring about inclusion in education, because education is a basic human right, guaranteed by the Constitution. It is about time we all took part in lifelong learning.