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17 Oct 12

Contemporary Illiterates

Kreshnik Hoxha

It would not be unfair, or incorrect, to claim that our collective functioning as a society is possible only when we are exposed to a common enemy that poses danger for our welfare and existence.

If in doubt, just remember the 1990s and our joint effort for survival. So, if we really need to identify an enemy in order to recover as a society, then the time has come to become aware of the cancer that is crumbling our future – the impoverished education system.

Have we ever wondered what will happen with the production of electricity in Kosovo in 20 years’ time, then today’s engineers retired? Have we ever thought who will be undertaking key medical surgeries in Kosovo when our doctors who studied in the most prominent and prestigious institutions of former Yugoslavia retire?

Have we ever realised that our children will be taught by those who should not even approach the entrance of any educational institution?

The questions presented above are not derived from prejudice. On the very contrary, they stem from irrefutable facts. Based on the 2012 data from the Central National Exam Commission, CNEC, the pass rate for the National Exams Kosovo wide was 52.9 percent.

This implies that 15,261 high school graduates do not posses even the most fundamental knowledge and cognitive development required by the labour market of this century. 

And it is precisely because of this reason that there should be no room for enthusiastic statements – such as those that came from the head of the Central National Exam Commission, Nehat Mustafa, who claimed that the results were heaps better compared to the year before.

Comparing trends from previous years is definitely a good indicator of the overall knowledge in the country. However, the conclusions drawn from any comparison are very much dependant on the reference point. 

And Mustafa’s reference point is the 2011 data with a pass rate of 41.9 percent. This data is sufficient to deduce that approximately half of the graduates produced by the pre-university education sector are practically functional illiterates, who are issued certificates for completion of studies by Kosovo’s schools.

As always, the credit for all this havoc goes to the “Department of Ignorance and Negligence” of the Ministry of Education.

The spreading of this cancer to the higher education sector becomes evident upon analysing the academic performance of freshers enrolled to the University of Pristina, which has the biggest intake of the high school graduates in Kosovo.

The threshold for enrolment to the university is set by the rectorate and is 30 out of 100 in the National Exam. However, analysing the lists of freshmen enrolled to certain faculties points to a tragic fact: The University of Pristina undermines its own entry requirements and admits students with marks under the threshold.

At the Faculty of Mathematical and Natural Sciences, within the Physics Department, there are freshmen who barely have quarter of the marks available from the National Exam and are admitted with only 28 marks.

The average mark for those accepted to this department is 48.9 out of 100. A similar picture applies to the Chemistry Department, where freshmen are admitted with only 35 marks and the average mark is 51.3.

The Faculty of Mining and Metallurgy practically teaches students that failed the National Exam. This becomes evident when examining the lists for the Mining Department, which admitted students with 23 out of 100.

Bearing in mind that the University of Pristina is the only provider of natural/physical sciences in Kosovo, it is clear that science in this country is “studied” by those who do not have the mental capacity to face the challenges of this field.

With the global tendency to move toward alternative energy and green science, Kosovo’s ability to contribute to scientific research for a sustainable development is close to zero. Issues such as alternative energy and green science are proving challenging for the Western world too.

However, the difference lies in the fact that the west, and the region, do not seem to face the problems of having illiterate graduates that don’t even realise how unskilled they are.

Issuing university certificates for those who will be doctors and cannot even distinguish blood groups or those who will seek engineering positions in the power plant without basic thermodynamics — is a recipe for disaster.

The ignorance and apathy of this society continues to be the guiding pillar of Kosovo. The country with the youngest population in Europe is also the one with the most uneducated youth who also have impaired critical thinking.

The contemporary illiteracy will bite us back in the very near future. Good luck explaining to our children why they are taught by teachers whose IQ is on double digits.

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