Parallel worlds. Rebuilding the education system in Kosovo
by Marc Sommers and Peter Buckland
In spring 1999, after a short but bloody civil war, hundreds of thousands of refugees were repatriated to Kosovo from neighbouring lands, and the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) was established. Provision of education, to people of all ethnic origins, was an enormous challenge, and this book seeks to identify lessons to be learned from the experience.
The authors explore four major themes: the influence and relevance of history, tradition, and politics on post-war education work; the tension between the need to resume schooling using existing resources, institutions and curricula, and the urge to reform and modernize the education system; the ambiguity regarding authority when an outside entity assumes leadership in educational reforms, and then hands over control of the system to local officials; and the gap between central level policies and their impact on change at the school and community level. The authors contend that there were and are many 'parallel worlds' in education in Kosovo, and not only between ethnic groups. A more subtle but critical gap is the one that opened up between the international workers and educational and political leaders, of all ethnicities, to the detriment of fully effective co-ordination of educational reconstruction and reform in Kosovo.