By Ilda. Hoxha

Minister of Education Evis Kushi promised that an Abetare unified between Albania and Kosovo would be available for the 2022-2023 school year. However, the unification of the Abetare between the two countries was done in 2012, as also confirmed by education experts in Albania and education officials in Kosovo. According to the MoESY’s reply to Faktoje, there are currently 4 Abetare used in our country and the unified Abetare will be used in the two Albanian-speaking countries in September 2022.

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“On the occasion of the 110th anniversary of independence, we will present first-grade pupils in Albania and Kosovo with a new, common, and unified Abetare for all pupils,” said Minister Evis Kushi.

However, because the unification of the Abetare between the two Albanian-speaking countries had also taken place in 2012, on December 6, Faktoje submitted a request for information to the Ministry of Education and Sports. We wanted to know what the new Abetare unification entailed.

The MoESY replied on December 29, following the complaint filed with the Information Commissioner. In its official reply, inter alia, the Ministry of Education underlines that, since 2014, it has undertaken e curriculum reform involving all pre-university education texts.

Request for information addressed to the MoESY on December 6

“Since 2014, the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) has undertaken a curriculum reform, pursuant to the requirements set forth in Law No. 69/2012 On the Pre-University Education System in the Republic of Albania, as amended, and the Recommendations of the European Parliament and Council of Europe on developing competences for lifelong learning (2006/962/EC)”, explains the MoESY.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Education stated to Faktoje that there are 4 types of Abetare being used in the pre-university system, not only the unified version, which is also used in Kosovo.

“The Abetare text has not been included in the drafting and review process for new texts. Currently, there are four versions of the said text in the pre-university education system in Albania; thus, in addition to the nationwide Abetare, there are also three other options, which are selected by teachers during the text selection process at schools.

The new MoES initiative to use a single Abetare text in schools aims to implement the same approach and methodology throughout the education system in terms of beginner literacy. The drafting of the said Abetare will constitute a process involving professors, linguists, curriculum specialists, psychologists, teachers, etc., who will ensure scientific, didactic, methodological, ethical, linguistic, visual, and graphic accuracy, in addition to compliance with the syllabus. This initiative will also include the ministry in charge of education in Kosovo, resulting in the creation of a high-quality Abetare text for all Albanian children”, states the MoESY’s response.

However, what will be different about the new Abetare intended to be used by pupils in Albania and Kosovo in the 2022-2023 school year? In its official reply to Faktoje, the MoESY states:

“The drafting of the new Abetare will be based on the competency-based curriculum and school text standards (MoESY, 2015), which provide criteria on compliance with comprehensive curriculum principles and texts of upcoming grades; printing and illustration; adaptation to pupils’ age; observance of standard Albanian; reflection of gender equality; complementary materials and workbooks, as well as Abetare-specific standard indicators. All existing Abetare versions were drafted prior to the competency-based curriculum and do not reflect this approach fully.”

Shezai Rrokaj, the author of the 2012 common Abetare, stated in an interview for Top Channel on November 29 that the decision to unify the Abetare is not a new initiative, as there was also an agreement on Albania’s 100th anniversary of Independence.

“In the framework of Albania’s 100th anniversary of Independence, there was a cross-governmental agreement between Albania and Kosovo, based on which, a common Abetare would be designed. No one can say that this one is valueless. This is political will. However, the work for this Abetare cannot be disregarded, as it is currently being used by Albanian children to learn”, said Mr. Rrokaj.

The Abetare used currently in Kosovo and also in Albania

In regards to the new initiative to unify the Albanian-Kosovo Abetare, the Deputy Minister of Education of Kosovo, Dukagjin Pupovci, explained to the media:

“The idea behind this is to redesign the current unified Abetare, as it has been a while, and I believe that, upon approval, it will be used in Kosovo. Whereas, in terms of whether it will be the only version in Albania, this issue falls under the competence of the Albanian Ministry”, he stated.

On the other hand, the Minister of Education of Kosovo, Arbërie Nagavci, stated for “Euronews Albania” that Kosovo has complied with prior agreements and has used the unified Abetare, whereas Albania has failed to do so.

“Even several years ago, there was an initiative for a common Abetare, which was accepted and utilized. Kosovo has fulfilled its side of the agreement, as the common Abetare has been in use for a long time. To the best of my knowledge, the same cannot be said for all schools in the Republic of Albania or for this period in the country,” said Kosovo’s Minister of Education.