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Unintended Effects from Education Reform

Although there were no obstacles to implementing the law on TU, as well as the additional reforms in primary and secondary education for Albanians, the outputs of these reforms did not result in improved inter-ethnic relations and de-ethnicisation of education policy. The establishment of separate, Albanianlanguage educational institutions, from primary to post-graduate level, resulted in segregation of Macedonian and Albanian students and their encapsulation in an ethnically exclusive education system. It was soon obvious that the effects of the post-conflict OFA-inspired reforms in education were not as expected. Violent

17 Žarko Karadžoski, Coordinator of the VMRO-DPMNE parliamentary group, in the Transcripts from the fifth sitting of the fifty-first session of the Parliament of R. Macedonia, 21 January 2004. Parliament of Republic of Macedonia, Transcript Archives. Available at: sobranie.mk

18 Boris Trajkovski, quoted in 'Trajkovski go potpiša ukazot za tetovskiot univerzitet' [Trajkovski signed the decree for Tetovo University], A1 News, 20 February 2004. Available at: a1.com.mk/vesti/default.aspx?VestID=29272 (accessed 20

November 2010). incidents between students from different ethnicities became common, especially in ethnically mixed towns. School authorities responded by physically separating the students from different ethnic groups, first in different shifts (morning and afternoon) and eventually in separate buildings. Violence between Macedonian and Albanian students in high-schools in Kumanovo, Struga and Tetovo not only made the main headlines in the media, but incited heated discussions between concerned parents, local authorities and the central government about whether integration in schools was possible.

Undoubtedly, the roots of ethnic intolerance and youth violence in Macedonian schools are deeper than the post-2001 interventions in the educational system. The curriculum contains very few references to other ethnic groups' history and culture and the teaching staff have scant training and no incentives to mainstream multiculturalism in classes. The support staff tends to downplay the ethnic component of youth violence fearing media attention and damaged school reputation, thus leaving ethnic violence untreated in schools.19 What has made this problem more acute and more visible is the language division that accelerated after 2001 as education in Albanian became more available and the number of Albanian language classes increased in schools in areas populated with Albanians. While the right to mother tongue education was being promoted through making education in Albanian more available, inter-ethnic integration through education appears to have suffered. Instead of exposing them to each other, schools made Albanian and Macedonian children more encapsulated in their own ethnic group, as not only classes but extra-curricular activities also became mono-ethnic. Schools justified those measures on the grounds of the language gap, but the policy effects were equivalent to those of de facto ethnic segregation.20 The resulting lack of contact between ethnic groups made schools fertile ground for breeding prejudice instead of fighting it, demonstrating the limited success of post-conflict education reforms in alleviating ethnic tensions in education.

At a more general level, the case with post-conflict minority education reforms also addresses issues about the efficiency and effectiveness of power-sharing mechanisms. The case of TU demonstrates that policy-making was efficient. A stable majority, commanding enough votes in parliament for the double majority requirement, pursued a policy course without being blocked by the opposition or another institution. Notwithstanding the regular democratic mechanisms available to the opposition, the power-sharing decision-making apparatus was not inefficient, as some argue.21 Neither the double majority vote nor the interethnic reconciliation committee in parliament created a policy bottleneck, and the government agenda was being implemented at a steady pace.

19 Violeta Petroska-Beška et al., Multiculturalism and Inter-ethnic Relations in Education

(Skopje: UNICEF Office, 2009).

20 Violeta Petroska-Beška et al., Multiculturalism and Inter-ethnic Relations in Education.

21 Christopher Chivvis, 'The Making of Macedonia', Survival, 50 (2008): 141–62. Although power-sharing institutions were functioning efficiently, their effectiveness in resolving ethnic problems in society by adopting a mutually acceptable solution was more problematic. Minority education remained a problematic topic for ethnic relations even after TU was legalised. The functional autonomy that was introduced in the area of education for Albanians led to the creation of two entirely separate and ethnically exclusive educational systems in Macedonia. Since 2001, education has become more segregated and society more divided as a result. Thus, although political elites accommodated over the adoption of proposed reforms and their implementation, the results that the adopted policy was producing were divisive, so the issue remained ethnicised.

 
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