IOM supports the initiative for the institutionalization of learning of official languages in Kosovo

Pristina – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) organized on Monday the Milestone conference on the initiative for the institutionalization of the learning of official languages in Kosovo.

 

The conference rallied both local and international high representatives and stakeholders with the aim to discuss key developments and future plans. The aim of the initiative is to enable curricular and extracurricular learning of official languages, as well as to enable certification of language knowledge. An international support group (British Embassy, IOM and OSCE) has been working intensively with relevant institutions (University of Pristina, Faculty of Philology, Ministry of Education, the Office of Language Commissioner and Accreditation Agency) on supporting the faculty in preparing the documentation for the reaccreditation of the Balkanistics programme(s) and the regulations for the Language Center. 

The event was hosted by the Office of Language Commissioner (OPM) and Faculty of Philology and organized within the framework of the project “Building Societal Connections and Support to Reconciliation and Social Cohesion” supported by the British Embassy Pristina and implemented by International Organisation for Migration(IOM).

“The project aims to contribute towards a more inclusive society for all communities in Kosovo by promoting their language rights, fostering cooperation and developing joint initiatives,” Ms Anna Rostocka, Chief of IOM Mission, gave the opening remarks.

Acknowledging the work put forth in achieving progress in this field of crucial importance for society, Ms Arbërie Nagavci, Minister of Education & Science, said that both, herself and the ministry she leads, will be committed to providing equal opportunities for all young people in all institutions.

Thanking the organizers and all the partners who are implementing the project, she emphasized that communication is the bridge that connects people.

“Language as an instrument of communication is extremely important in order to achieve goals and our individual and social development. I consider the help and contribution you offer us through this project very important, so that the citizens of the Republic of Kosovo can cooperate, know each other, and progress together. By knowing each other we understand each other better and we manage to accept each other and make sure that we build bridges of cooperation, supporting each other and moving forward together through dialogue to overcome dilemmas,” concluded the Minister.

Rector Naser Sahiti emphasized that the inclusion of community languages in higher education is a need and necessity, both in society and at the scientific level. The rector said that he will provide support to the dean of the Faculty of Philology in this initiative, emphasizing that every success of the Faculty of Philology is also a success of the University.

Dean Lindita Rugova, one of key movers of the project, recalled both, the challenges and success:

“In 2019 I had to explain to stakeholders what the Balkanistic programme was, what a long process we had in advance to prepare for the documentation for this programme and now I can just confirm to you that we are in the process of accreditation. We are waiting for foreign experts to review the programme, if we get positive feedback from them - to start with that in October 21/22. In December 2019, in the premises of the Faculty for Philology where we met for the first time, I eventually succeeded to summarise in one sentence that the establishment of a potential Language Centre within the framework of the Faculty of Philology will make a difference in providing extra curricular activities related to the learning of languages in Kosovo and other foreign languages for all communities in general. And now in front of you I have the decision for the establishment of the Language Center approved by the Steering Board of the University of Pristina.

The programme is currently waiting for a green light from the Kosovo Accreditation Agency.

Establishing the Language Centre and Balkanology is an essential part of the development, agreed British Ambassador, Mr. Nicholas Abbott, while speaking of the common objective, that is the improvement of interethnic relations through improved language rights.

“There are many obvious reasons why the Language Center and Balkanology programme should be established and supported by all relevant institutions, but I am only going to name two. Firstly, the Law on languages states that official documents must be translated into both official languages. I think we all know that often is not the case, they are not either translated, or they are not not translated properly. However, equal access to services and information in those official languages is essential, essential to all citizens, especially at a time such as during the pandemic when people rely on official information. Secondly and equally importantly is communication between people, communities and neighbours. That’s important in Kosovo but in any other country where there are people who speak different languages, but who are living side by side, they need to communicate”, were his remarks.

His Excellency listed key problems in the area: insufficient number of language professionals, lack of funding for translation services, discrepancy in legislation but also the issue of mutual recognition of diplomas between Serbia and Kosovo. “All of those challenges need to be addressed properly and I look forward working with the new government to do so,” concluded Mr. Abbott.

OSCE Ambassador to Kosovo, Michael Davenport, in his first public address since taking office a week ago, said: “I do believe that this is the very much a kind of investment in young people which is needed in this region. So, I welcome the Government's commitment and the University of Pristina for establishing the Balkanistic study programme and the language center (…) The idea is that the Balkanistic studies programme will indeed create a sort of pipeline of professional and efficient interpreters, both in government and crucially in the private sector”, he said.

After keynote speakers, the report of the assessment of the needs for language professionals was presented, followed by a panel discussion and a moderated Q&A session with an audience present online.

For more information, please contact Safete Graicevci at OLC, email:  Safete.Graicevci@rks-gov.net, Dorina Decani at FP, email: dorinadecani@gmail.com or Igor Rašić at IOM Pristina, email: irasic@iom.int.

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UN entities involved in this initiative
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International Organization for Migration