In these cold days when the thermometer has dropped below 0 degrees Celsius, students of the “Jan Kukuzeli” school in Durrës reported to Faktoje that the classrooms are cold and the boilers are not working. During the months of December 2022-January 2023, Faktoje established this fact, which was also confirmed by the Durrës Municipality. Fuel pellets continue to be stored in the school, while the heating is done with resistance. The Ministry of Education itself confirmed for Faktoje that 15 schools in Durrës use electric resistance heaters, but this number is higher.
By Albina Hoxhaj
In a statement on April 6, 2017, Prime Minister Rama, among other things, said ironically:
“ I remember one of our ministers who said that we don’t need heating, that we have very crowded classrooms, and it is the heat of the human body that guarantees the heating of the entire classroom, since the human body has an energy that it releases. That is, he considered the students as auto-heaters that could guarantee heating, but he had not yet found a solution for cooling. These were the idiotic arguments of people in the Albania we once had”.
Beyond the irony, the prime minister’s statement basically conveyed a promise that heating would be provided in schools, which had not been fulfilled in previous governments.
But what has happened, say, 5 years after this promise, and has heating been ensured in schools? We decided to do a verification in some schools of Durrës municipality in December 2022-January 2023. One of them is the artistic school “Jan Kukuzeli”. Heating is done with a heater that cost 2,500 new lek, in classes with 25 students inside. The same situation is in every school class. The boilers are not working because there was a malfunction last year, according to sources inside the school, and they have not been working since then. We were not allowed to enter the school, but from the same sources, we learned that the school continues to buy and store pellets despite the boilers not working.
A message received this Monday, February 6, when the temperatures in Durrës dropped below 0 degrees Celcius, announced that the boilers in this school are still not in operation and lessons take place in the cold.
Screenshot of a message from a student of “Jani Kukuzeli” school
Artistic school “Jan Kukuzeli”, Durrës
Recently we turned to the municipality of Durrës with a request for information regarding the lack of heating from the boiler system in the schools. Regarding the artistic school “Jani Kukuzeli”, the municipality gives this justification for the lack of heating with boilers.
“The facility has completed the defect warranty phase, which is a period of two years from the day of approval of the works, the Durrës Municipality has set up a working group for the handover of this facility initiated by the entrepreneur of the works of this school. Since the object has resulted in some defects in the qualified works and by the work group on dt. 28.12.2022, the task of fixing these defects was left to the contractor of the building’s works” – it is stated in the response of the municipality .
Screenshot of the response of the municipality of Durrës, January 2023
Almost a year ago, in January 2022, the Ministry of Education and Sports was forced to close all schools of the pre-university education system for 3 days due to low temperatures, severe winter and lack of heating in educational institutions. The Ministry of Education, officially asked about the measures taken for heating in schools at a time the country is facing an energy crisis, completely transferred the responsibility to the local government. However, the official data of this institution shows that only ¼ of the schools in the country are equipped with a heating system.
Screenshot of the reply of the Ministry of Education, Sports, and Youth to Faktoje
Focusing specifically on Durrës municipality, according to the ministry, it turns out that out of 54 schools in total, 15 are heated with electric stoves, 13 are in the process of reconstruction, 7 use diesel boilers, 18 pellet boilers.
The table reflects the data for the schools as a whole and the method of heating
Since the provision of heating in educational institutions is the responsibility of the local government, the municipality of Durrës has determined the fund for heating with firewood and pellets is 24,993,431 lek including VAT for 2022, while for the oil with which the boilers operate, the planned fund is ALL 8,447,240 including VAT.
Screenshot of the reply of the municipality of Durrës that shows the fund determined for heating in schools.
In relation to this problem, unresolved over the years, Migen Qiraxhi from Qëndresa Centre, says for Faktoje:
“Infrastructure in the pre-university education system continues to remain one of the biggest problems, it is enough to recall that every year low temperatures close schools, proving the lack of minimum conditions for their heating, and these are phenomena that do not belong only the outskirts or rural areas of the country, but also very close to the capital.”
“The needs and demands of citizens with the educational infrastructure are in dramatic relation to each other. We cannot get out of this situation as long as there is no analysis, a detailed study of demographic movements and most importantly this sector is not being financed, the state budget continues to be at the same level as for education. It is objectively impossible to expect an infrastructural improvement in this sector,” suggests Qiraxhi.