If you don’t go to school you stay ignorant!

Folding paper boats with the kids—another way of building bridges across language barriers. Photo by Marina Aschkenasi.

Our second day in Kosovo took us to Ferizaj, located south-west of Pristina. We visited one of the Roma families benefiting from the supplementary lessons provided by Save the Children and the local organisation RROGRAEK. Seven-year-old Kemal and his eight-year-old sister Renisa both take part in these and Visar, their father, told us that both kids benefit massively.

When the family came back from living in Germany three years ago, the kids struggled to integrate as they both had to learn the Albanian language. Kemal was really proud to show us his math certificate as he just recently won his class mathematics competition for the second time. One day Kemal wants to be a mathematics teacher himself.

Even at his young age Kemal understands how important education is: “If you don’t go to school you stay ignorant!” Photo by Marina Aschkenasi.

In the afternoon we had the chance to visit the Tefik Çanga Primary and Lower Secondary School that Kemal and Renisa attend. During the last few years, this local school has developed into a role model for inclusive education.

Albanians and Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian (RAE) children of Kosovo are represented at the preschool class we visited at Tefik Çanga Primary and Lower Secondary School in Ferizaj. Photo by Marina Aschkenasi.

Through the IKEA Foundation funds, Save the Children has been able to employ Halil, an inclusion teacher, and offer inclusive education training for all the local teachers.

Together with Halil, we visited one of his classes and got to know one of the children who has a disability. Sumeja has a mental impairment and joined the class one year ago. Halil has put a lot of effort into integrating Sumeja into the class by communicating his inclusive approach with the other children, their parents and the teachers. Halil explained that his job is not only about supporting Sumeja herself but enabling the other teachers to encourage her according to her special needs.

The principal of the school, Basri Hasani, was proud to share that after the three years of financing through Save the Children, Halil is now employed directly by the municipality.

Halil develops individual lesson plans for Sumeja and the other children with disabilities. Photo by Engji Susuri.

Our final meeting of the day took us to see the Director of the Municipal Directorate in Ferizaj, Afrim Llabjani. He emphasised that education needs to be prioritised in the future to support sustainable development in the region.

The day gave us a very broad insight on the challenges and meaning of education in different dimensions: families, schools and teachers as well as local authorities. We were inspired by the motivation of the kids and the passion of those working hard for them to receive a suitable and quality education.

    Bardha Bathiri