1-Teachers are the problem, not pupils!
Since digitalization of education is considered priority and challenge of MES, intelligent classrooms are now a reality just around the corner in public schools. A fast rhythm, in the limits of hasty, is continuing to create the proper infrastructure. For the new school term, 120 intelligent classes will function in 60 selected schools around the country, with which 47 000 pupils will benefit from the project. Digital laboratories include interactive projectors, 40 tablets for pupils, 15 tablets and 3 laptops for teachers.
Of course there is a well implemented tender after the needed equipment for digital classrooms, conducted according to transparent procedures and required by law, eventhough few are those who got a taste of this transparency.
It is also more than visible that fulfilling this need, having intelligent digital classrooms, is at the top of MES priorities, of the needs and realities of schools and the education system in Albania, although according to Prime Minister Rama, in this case pupils are not the problem, teachers are. It is easy for pupils to absorb the world of new technologies, while it is more difficult and their training in this process is a major challenge as it is having teachers at their disposal with full knowledge.
2- The reform will not pass, MES sometimes listens, sometimes acts!
As it was published in the media, students and unsatisfied professors of public universities have protested under the slogan ‘’the reform will not pass’’. In fact, it seems that the government will not change its approach. MES seems prepared and clear in what it wants to achieve, reforming completely the Albanian education system. Despite consultations with different interest grops, MES revealed its vision for education and it seems to have the support of the government and Assembly.
While with higher education MES continues to stand strongly by its arguments regarding incentives to scientific research and simultaneously the independence of universities, not only academic independence, but financial one as well, introducing a new role of MES in administering higher education, in pre-university education MES tried to eliminate the altertext.
In the European Integration Commission, minister Nikolla emphasized that our pre-university education system is involved in a new curricula reform based on competencies, which is the trend of European education systems, therefore including this curricula required a new conception of article 13, related to substantial competencies for students.
Article 13 is changed as follows:
‘’Article 13 Competencies, substantial competencies for all pupils are:
- Communication and expression competencies
- Thinking competencies
- Competencies of learning
- Competencies for life, enterprise and environment
- Personal competencies
- Civic competencies
- Digital competencies
Regarding changes in the current law 69/2012, minister Nikolla stood by her conviction that we need to go towards a unified text, without taking anything away from competition. To conduct the selection process what is added is the fact that we have standards. Until now the selection was based on criteria defined by the minister, while MES has designed a document which constitutes the standard for school texts and a mechanism to select quality school texts. We are not talking about an overturn or improvement of the altertext, but a shift from the altertext.
The minister’s vision did not last long after it was put up for discussion between involved parties. In a directive from 26.03.2015 No. 9 point 1, paragraph c we can read:
- c) Each teacher, based on the catalogue for school texts, will select the best text for the respective subject, according to classes, education level. Teachers working in more than 1 school will fill a form for subjects in the school with the biggest teaching hours per week. School directors will fill in the form, equal to those of teachers for their respective subjects.
In conclusion, the altertext remains, confirming that at this point the pre-university education system in Albania follows not only the procedures, but also the spirit of EU member states. Despite the vision of the minister, a lobbying system of interested stakeholders worked, by keeping the altertext as the best alternative, compared to unified texts.
Regarding testing of teachers minister Nikolla did not change her approach by specifying everything needed in Directive No. 2 dated 12.02.2015 ‘’On criteria and procedures for teachers’ qualifications’’.
Within the information often complicated in terminology and sometimes clear, what stands out is point 6, article 2:
- Employeed graduated in pedagogy who work at the Ministry of Education and Sports, Institute for Education Development, National Testing Agency, National Education, Professional and Qualification Agency, State Education Inspectorate and Regional Education Directories will benefit, without taking a test, in their category of qualification, if they fulfill criteria defined in point 2 of this chapter.
Therefore, it is sufficient to be a teacher who works in one of the above mentioned institutions to profit not only from avoiding to take the exam but also the qualification category depending on respective years of work experience. Meanwhile, there is nothing in the system regarding criteria for career development or skills of these employees in relation to the position they represent in the respective institutions. Undoubtedly, this criteria, for those who read the Official Gazette, will bring an increase in the request of teachers who wish to be employed in these institutions.