|© UNICEF TFYR Macedonia/2005/Nybo|
|A UNICEF mobile educator in Tetovo, Macedonia, with a young Roma child.|
By Thomas Nybo
TETOVO, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 11 November 2005 – A team of travelling teachers is visiting Valbone Mandzukai’s family, to teach her 7-year-old son how to read and write. But he is not the only one learning – Valbone, who was illiterate when she fled Kosovo six years ago, is also taking lessons.
Valbone and her family are members of the Roma community – one of the most disadvantaged and marginalized communities in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. As the country struggles with a jobless rate of more than 30 per cent, the situation among the Roma is even worse. The unemployment rate here sometimes exceeds 80 per cent, and the vicious cycle of poverty has made access to education and health care an impossible dream for many families.
To help these impoverished families, UNICEF is sending teams of mobile educators on community visits. The educators have helped Valbone make tremendous progress.
A better future
"I didn't know how to read, how to do math," says Valbone. "I have never gone to school, so these educators help me a lot. Now I can write my name and I can do basic math."
By learning how to read and write, Valbone may one day break the cycle of poverty; she now has a better chance of finding a decent job.
In this country, very few children have access to pre-school education. The mobile educators are helping fill the gap, giving children like Valbone’s son a chance to ready for school. The mobile educators have provided home-based education to thousands of women, boys and girls from poor communities in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. "I was a little sceptical at the beginning," says educator Ardita Muharemi. "But now I can see that through this project, they can have a better future – not only for their children, but for themselves."
8 November 2005:
UNICEF correspondent Thomas Nybo reports on how travelling teachers are helping bring education to poor communities in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.