UNICEF and the schools in Kosovo
UNICEF in push to repair more than half of
Kosovo's schools and set plan to re-open universities to all students.
With more than half of Kosovo's schools damaged, many seriously, the United
Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is helping in a major push to ensure that all
schools will be ready for the start of the normal school year on 1 November.
Of Kosovo's 1,000 schools, UNICEF estimates that at the end of the conflict in the territory nearly 668 were in need of repair, with 45 per cent severely damaged or destroyed. The majority of school facilities have been looted; some schools still have to be checked for landmines and unexploded ordnance.
To ensure that all facilities will be fully functional when some 310,000 students return in the autumn, UNICEF, along with dozens of partner organizations, has already completed repair of 34 schools and is working to restore 263 other. Rehabilitation of 371 more damaged facilities is soon to begin.
Where facilities will not be completed by the start of the school year, UNICEF is providing 700 winterized tents for use as temporary classrooms.
Already this week, some 250,000 school children began "catch up" classes, to complete coursework interrupted last spring. Some classes are being convened in repaired or nearly repaired school; others are simply being held outdoors.
Parallel to efforts to restore school structures, UNICEF is pushing to revamp the old Kosovo school system which often physically separated Albanian and Serb children. At the Dardania School in Kosovo's capital, Pristina, for example, walls have been knocked down which in the past were used to divide children of different ethnic groups.
To accommodate the language differences among students, schools will operate on a time-share basis, with Albanian-language instruction for half the day and Serbian instruction during the other.
Kosovo's schools re-open to complete interrupted 1998-1999 courses.
In a major step towards restoring Kosovo's education system, more than half of its 1,000 schools were to re-open today and resume classes that were interrupted earlier this year, the United Nations reported in Kosovo.
The "catch-up classes" will allow students to complete the 1998-1999 course work before the official start of this school year, expected in late October, UN spokeswoman Daniela Rozgonova told the press today in Pristina.
To facilitate the quick resumption of classes, the UN-supervised Joint Civil Commission on Education conducted a rapid review of textbooks to vet them for hate language. The Commission is now working to establish an entirely new curriculum for the 2000-2001 school year.
Efforts continue to repair nearly 200 additional school facilities that have been damaged. The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) estimates that 130 Kosovo schools have been completely destroyed, with 150 severely damaged. Another 132 sustained moderate damage.
UNMIK and Kosovar academics set plan to re-open universities to all students.
AUGUST 27 -- After weeks of negotiations, the United Nations in Kosovo and Serb and Albanian academics have set a plan for re-opening universities to all students, the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) announced today.
The plan envisions a fair, secure and practical sharing of university public facilities, according to time-sharing arrangements to be worked out by the parties themselves.
As a first step, the proposal outlines the conducting of "catch up" exams for students whose educations were interrupted last spring.
Under the plan, faculty, administrative staff and students from both Serb and Albanian "language streams" would immediately gain access to all university facilities, so as to prepare for and conduct examinations for the disrupted 1998-99 school term.
Briefing the press in Pristina, capital of Kosovo, on the new proposal, UN spokeswoman Nadia Younes said, if successful, this plan will be applied simultaneously in all university branches around Kosovo.
"The principles are that the communities in Kosovo must be able to share the facilities and opportunities which belong to them, without discrimination, segregation or the exclusive use of any institution or area by one group or another," she said.
Due to the security situation in the territory, specific modalities for implementing the plan are still being worked out, Ms. Younes said. A working group of Serb and Albanian representatives, UNMIK and the KFOR international security forces has been established to design an implementation plan.
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The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK)