Real lives

Dreaming of a better and safer future

Preventing Violence in Schools through Student Councils

Community alliances keep girls in school

Expanding access to quality education

A police record with two stars

Windows on life: with the touch of a pencil

 

Windows on life: with the touch of a pencil

© UNICEF/kosovo/033/05

Sanija’s dream was to become a teacher, get married, and be a good wife and mother. Today in Kosovo, the 42-year-old mother of three recalls how her life took a detour when she was a child.

She has always lived in Drenica, an area devastated during the 1999 conflict between the Serbs and the Albanians in Kosovo. Times were tough there even when she was a child. Her parents were forced to choose whether she or her brother could remain in school.

“Of course it was me who had to drop out from the school,” says Sanija. “It was a nightmare, and I will never forget it. My parents were concerned about my safety because the school was too far from our house, and also because of the bad economic situation at home.”

Nearly 35 years had passed since Sanija left school when she heard from a friend that literacy classes were being organized in her village. She knew she wanted to join.

A second chance

”With the help of a literacy facilitator who was teaching in our village, it took me almost a month to persuade my husband,” she says.

He finally agreed to let her enrol, but with two conditions; his mother must accompany her and the textbook used in class could never be brought home.

Sanija was upset about the conditions. She was unsure how her relatives, neighbours and, most importantly, her children would react to her agreeing to them.  But at the same time, she was thrilled to get a second chance at education.

”I can’t explain the feeling of the touch of the pencil after those many years,” she remembers.

Sanija is one of the 2,000 women who attend the 130 literacy centres in Kosovo. Created in 2001 with the support of UNICEF, the centres are located in 19 of the 30 municipalities. They are managed through a network of 21 women’s non-governmental organizations that are responsible for training literacy facilitators and organizing courses.

Expanding the centres

In 2002, ‘Windows on Life, level 2’, a post-literacy textbook used in the courses, was completed and distributed to all centres and students. By the end of 2002, the preparation of level 3 courses began. Plans for expanding the centres’ capacities are underway in 2003 with a goal of reaching 3,000 women in Kosovo. UNICEF is pressing for the Kosovo Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to officially certify courses equivalent to primary grade 5 by the end of 2004.

Today, Sanija has completed the first level of the literacy course. After one year of attending classes regularly, she and her family can see the difference.

One difference came at the ballot box.

“I was very proud of being able to vote in the last election like everybody else” says Sanija. She had previously signed the ballot paper with her fingerprint.

 

 
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