BY ILDA HOXHA
The ‘Emin Duraku’ school in the area of the former Block in Tirana did not open its doors to students this September, as the mayor Erion Veliaj promised. The reconstruction of the educational facility, funded by the European Union, actually has a deadline of December of this year. Currently, the students of the ‘Emin Durakut’ school are attending school in shifts at ‘Vasil Shanto’ and ‘Sabaudin Gabrani’ schools.
Genta, has two children, one in the first grade and the other in the fifth, enrolled in the “Emin Duraku” school, which today is still a construction site. But on the first day of school, she was forced to take leave from work to accompany her two children, the younger to the 9-year-old school “Sabaudin Gabrani” and the older to “Vasil Shanto”.
“My son in the first grade finished his lesson at 4:00 p.m. I took him with me to work and he fell asleep there. The older son finishes at 17:45, when they have 7 classes, they will finish even later. I don’t know how I will manage in winter, when it gets dark faster. From the first day I also feel exhausted, as I spent my day taking my children to schools and picking them up later. I don’t know when they will do their home-work. Tomorrow everything starts all over again” – says worried Genta who adds:
“From December, the teachers say that the construction of “Emin Duraku” can be completed, but nothing is certain.”
What Veliaj promised for the “Emin Duraku” school
In January of this year, the Mayor of Tirana, Erion Veliaj , accompanied by Delina Ibrahimaj, at that time the Minister of Finance, inspected the works for the construction of the ‘Emin Duraku’ school in the area of the former Block in the capital. During the inspection, the mayor stated :
” We do the furnishing during August and in September we come back here … I want to clarify that the last lot of schools, which we are rebuilding after the damage from the earthquake, is a lot where the client is the Municipality of Tirana, but the implementation and financing is done by a partnership between the Union European and UNDP.”
The same deadline, which coincided with the start of the new school year, was articulated at that time by the Minister of Finance, Ibrahimaj : “With the building that is under way, as we are informed, it will be completed within the month of September, we will be able to attract here still more students and we will be able to offer students not only the excellent teaching that the academic staff here offers, but also all the other services that schools in Tirana and throughout Albania already provide”.
At the start of the new school year 2023-2024, Faktoje decided to do a verification in this school, which according to the promises should have opened its doors for the students of the 9 year cycle.
From the field verification on September 11, the first day of school, we noticed that the “Emin Duraku” school was still a construction site.
Construction site, “Emin Duraku” School, September 11, 2023
From the surrounding part of the construction site, it is shown that the object is funded by EU4school, however, there was no information board about the project and deadlines on the ground, a legal obligation violated in this case as well.
Construction site, “Emin Duraku” School missing information board, September 11, 2023
From the research we did on the official website of EU4schools, where data is provided on schools financed by the European Union, we are informed that the work on the construction of the educational facility started on January 30, 2023 and the works will be completed on December 29, 2023 . The value of the contract is ALL 368,016,858.20 without VAT.
Screenshot from the Eu4school website
Opening of “Emin Duraku” in September, propaganda of public officials
These data are important to understand that the statements of the mayor Veliaj and the Minister of Finance at that time, Brahimaj, about the opening of the school in September are untrue and for propaganda purposes. This is because EU4Shschools itself in the project defines the end date, not September, but the end of December 2023.
Where are the students of “Emin Duraku” learning
Currently, the students of the ‘Emin Duraku’ school, divided according to classes, have separate lessons in two schools, ‘Vasil Shanto’ and ‘Sabaudin Gabrani’.
Parents and students of the school that is being rebuilt confirmed to Faktoje that the primary cycle classes have been moved to the ‘Sabaudin Gabrani’ school, while the high cycle classes have been moved to the ‘Vasil Shanto’ school.
Rei is in the sixth grade and studies at ‘Vasil Shanto’ school. He says that this year, just like last year, the lessons are held in shifts.
“I start classes at lunch and until late afternoon. We were told that we would return to our school, but they postponed it. Now they say that in January we will return to Emin Duraku”, says the 12-year-old.
The school has a capacity of 1300 students and at the end of the works there will be 50 classrooms, 5 laboratories, a library and two gymnasiums.
Regarding the new schools that have been built and opened in Tirana during the 2023-2024 school year, we have addressed a request for information to the Municipality of Tirana.
Request for information sent to the Municipality of Tirana, September 4, 2023
Until the moment of publication of the article, we do not have a response from this institution.
Based on the verification carried out and the information gathered, we decided to categorize Mayor Veliaj’s statement about the opening of the “Emin Duraku” school in September as False.