Three categories of Kosovar teachers risk losing their jobs

Kosovar teachers with degrees in Pedagogy from the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Pristina or other private colleges on non-educational profiles risk becoming unemployed. This category of teachers has not been licensed by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST). And because they are not equipped with licenses there is a chance that their employment contracts to teach in educational cycles (primary or secondary) could be discontinued/annulled.

Legislation for pre-university education and Administrative Guidelines of MEST require Municipal Directorates of Education (MDE) to announce new vacancies and related competitions in order to fulfill staffing needs and to replace inadequate staff with professionals.

However, in absence of professional staff for certain subjects (mainly natural sciences), people with degrees in related fields where hired; for example teachers who teach mathematics may have a degree in mechanical or other types of engineering, or even some other technical degree. This was an emergency solution, but now these persons are not receiving teaching licenses.

Teachers with degrees from private universities are also facing hardship. Their jobs are at risk because of the Administrative Instruction for Teacher Licensing (2010), which states that teachers without licenses issued in accordance to this instruction cannot exercise their profession in public or private schools in the country.

Teachers have filed complaints to the MDEs and their unions.

Artan Mjekiqi from the Union of Education and Culture of Kosovo (UDCK) says that the union has received many complaints. Mjekiqi insists that these teachers should not be removed from the education process; instead the Ministry of Education needs to find a solution for their placement.

Municipal directors do not deny that the staff at risk of being dismissed were accepted by regular competition, which implemented administrative guidelines that were in force at the time of hiring, and that they have filled the positions for which there was no qualified staff.

Kosovo Accreditation Agency (KAA) considers that licensing was made in accordance with academic standards. Ferdije Zhushi-Etemi, president of the State Council on Quality within KAA, says that pedagogy graduates are an important addition to staff in schools, but they cannot fill teaching positions. “I consider that the transfer of the Department of Pedagogy in the Faculty of Education has enriched this university with qualified staff that will contribute to the quality of teaching in this university, but also in the proper training of students for the teaching profession”.

She said that the transfer of the Department of Pedagogy to the Faculty of Education was recommended years ago. Zhushi-Etemi also said that the only institutions that can “produce” teaching staff is the Faculty of Education, not private teaching institutions. She called UP’s and MEST’s decision to allow the announcement of applications for admissions to the pedagogy degree since 2010 a mistake. Zhushi-Etemi emphasizes that degrees in pedagogy may be accepted only in social institutions and or as social workers in schools, but not in the teaching process, since the pedagogy degree, according to her, does not include training in teaching skills.

Osman Buleshkaj, adviser to the minister (MEST) and president of the State Council for Teacher Licensing, says that there are over 1,000 staff serving as teachers with a degree in pedagogy. He adds that the Inspectorate of Education, in collaboration with the Municipal Departments of Education, were asked to collect data on all teachers, who have employment contracts for teaching, but not teaching licenses.

Buleshkaj also confirms that graduates of the Department of Pedagogy can be employed as social workers or professional staff Kosovo schools, but not as a teacher.

He adds that based on the administrative instruction for teacher licensing, MEST will be in charge of issuing licenses for teaching staff under two different categories. “First, for those pedagogues in the teaching process that have completed a 3-year bachelor in Pedagogy, MEST, in collaboration with the University of Pristina, will offer an advancement program of 60 ECTS with a focus on Albanian language courses, mathematics and sciences. Whereas, for those pedagogues in the teaching process that have completed a 4-year bachelor in Pedagogy, an advancement program of 30 ECTS will be offered,” says Buleshkaj.

But, MEST has not yet stated whether the advancement programs will start this year.

Buleshkaj goes further stating that teachers of non-educational profiles who have been teaching subjects due to the similarity of the topic to their degree will be able to attain a master degree on teaching at the Faculty of Education. Upon successful completion of the program they will be receiving their teaching license.

Whereas, regarding the refusal to provide teachers graduated from private universities with licenses, the answer is straightforward – as of 2009, when Kosovo Accreditation Agency (KAA) was established, the Law on Higher Education in Kosovo states that only the public university can prepare teaching staff. Even after the law was amended, this provision was not changed, since the aim is that the process of training of teaching staff to be streamlined.

But, private institutions of higher education say that alumni’s rights are being violated even though the private colleges were licensed and accredited by the ministry itself.

The Office of Public Relations at the College AAB states that they are aware and concerned about the treatment that graduates from private universities are receiving in different municipalities in Kosovo. “Aside non-licensing, in some municipalities they have started to terminate or discontinue contracts of social science graduates that work in nurseries and kindergartens, which is in violation of the law and administrative instructions of MEST.

Aside from this case, AAB stated that English language graduates are also discriminated against, despite the lack of qualified staff in this field; AAB graduates of English Language should be equal to the graduates of the public Faculty of Philology.

It remains to be seen how MEST will manage this situation.

Anita Kadriu
Pristina, June 2015