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The Matryoshka dolls of the decaying education system

November 18, 2020

Original Article:

On the first day of the start of the school year, months after the doors of all education institutions had shut due to the pandemics, the former education minister broadcast her well-wishing traditional message to the public only to receive a few hours later notice of her replacement. In an awkward though formally polite coffee meeting, the Prime Minister wished Besa Shahini, all the best in her future family life. This is after all the Renaissance’s* trademark sacking message: good luck and success in life! 

Shahini’s appointment at the time raised quite a storm in the public opinion given the legitimate concerns that she would not understand and properly relate to the cancerous difficulties that the education system faced in Albania. During her managing years, scandals over lack of safety and rampant abuse inside schools piled up. They weren’t entirely her fault though she could have managed them better. 

In addition, some of the largest student protests occurred last year which indeed shook the “façade-first!” system put up in place by Rama’s loyalists. Besa Shahini became then the face and voice behind the ‘Students Pact’, in theory a set of measures to address their concerns. In practice too little too late.

There is something excruciatingly painful when people talk about the education system in Albania: the inability and unwillingness of subsequent administrations to modernize it, to make it compatible with market demands, to free its ranks from politicized hiring practices and even more politicized usage. The existence of run down schools, of village kids that can’t make it to the classes unless they climb rope bridges over rivers, of student dorms and shower rooms stuck in the Victorian era juxtaposed to the image of politician kids attending luxurious private establishments is a dagger right in the heart of socio-economic disparity in Albania as well as a clear indicator of corruption and bad governance. 

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