Albanian learning based on unified children’s primer in all Albania and Kosovo schools

The first joint children’s reading and spelling book for beginners, a common commitment voiced by both governments in Albania and Kosovo, has been already launched as a long-awaited textbook for the Albanian pupils both in Albania, Kosovo and everywhere else in Albanian-speaking territories. The newly-produced textbook was inaugurated at a special ceremony on the eve of the new school year in Tirana.
Prime Minister Edi Rama praised the joint work to professionally compile the primer for 1st grade pupils in both countries, a textbook based on the Albanian language learning and teaching over the generations.
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Good evening everyone. At the very beginning,  I would like to point out that this is an incredibly special moment, precisely for the fact this first joint children’s primer, a product of joint work by both governments of Albania and Kosovo, was indeed a challenge, a race against time, as the decisive step towards its production was taken not long time ago at a joint meeting of the governments of both countries and the work required by the specifically-established two teams from the textbook authors, who participated in a completely open and all-inclusive race, from the selection committee and the publishing houses that took over the book printing was indeed a very voluminous one.
But, here we are today, precisely on the eve of the new school year, with a joint children’s reading and spelling book, which is the same for all 1st grade pupils going to school for the first time both in Albania and Kosovo. The good news is that our friends and colleagues in North Macedonia embraced this idea too, though a bit later.
Apart from Albania, Albanian language is preserved and spoken also in North Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Presheva Valley, also in territories outside this perimeter, where Albanians live and raise their children in Albanian families, not only in Europe, but as far away as Australia, the most remote corner of the world. It is particularly our responsibility to defend this language from the increasingly growing serious threats as a result of globalism, because of the social media, as a result of the intense electronic communications, as well as a result of an overall or general loss of interest for the book as a whole, not only among Albanians, but globally, as well as a result of the successive blows that the language unfortunately receives in a world of consumption, where little attention is attached to correcting, editing, publishing Albanian words and sentences, which are forwarded for daily consumption to the public, not only through textbooks, but also through the Albanian words written and published online.
The Albanian language is amongst the oldest in Europe and even in the world, but the Albanian written documents date relatively late and it is imperative nowadays that we find ways to better teach Albanian to future generations and patiently instil and tell our children and our grandchildren how difficult has been the path of effort not to be assimilated and preserve Albanian language from dying and becoming unknown and thanks to their efforts and struggle the Albanian language lives in all Albanian-speaking territories. However, it took incredible sacrifices and self-denial in the struggle to defend the Albanian language from distortion and even disappearance.
Education Minister Evis Kushi pointed out the first Albanian ABC book by Naum Veqilharxhi in 1844, about which professor Rexhep Qosja says “it was the work that heralded the birth of a new era in the history of Albanian language and Albanian Renaissance. A small book written in the original alphabet became “the Bible” or “Quran”, a holy yet a secular book of Albanians that played a paramount role in teaching and spread of our mother tongue.
As the book’s author himself has written on his prologue: “Don’t judge by its size, as time will show how big and heavy this book will be” in the sense of the weight and importance this ABC book had as a cornerstone, not only of Albanian language, but the whole thinking establishment of Albanians.
It is also a beautiful coincidence that this joint children primer is produced on the 100th anniversary of independence as a work process launched right on the eve of our National Independence Day last November in Elbasan, as we came together with the government of Kosovo, and the cooperation program between the two ministries was then signed relatively quickly, compared to the overall progress of the processes that we undertook last in December in Prishtina, where and then the joint commission was set up and oversaw the entire process.
Moreover, the reading and spelling book for beginners is also available on a digital version that makes the teachers and parents’ work much easier and, of course, helps pupils too.
It is something very beautiful , something very touching, but also encouraging, significant, as well as inviting for us the fact that this primer will be included on the Albania and Kosovo schools’ curricula as an amalgamating material of the entire learning process, creating a common space of seeing, pronouncing and expressing the letters in writing or verbally through these letters, allowing Albanian children on both sides of the border – and Albanian children on the other side of the border in North Macedonia and other territories hopefully soon – to live together in the same space of learning, writing, reading, and thinking about the basic matter of the Albanian language, which are letters.
This Primer, which also coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Orthography Congress, is, so to speak, a good omen that celebrates that very important national product of the Orthography Congress.
In my view, it is not a belated book, but a very useful textbook for beginners produced right on time. And it is definitely, as I already noted a little while ago, an encouraging embodiment, but also very encouraging to go on with the unification. Albania and Kosovo have to unify a lot of things in terms of codes, namely the code of traffic, the code of customs, labour, administrative procedures, and Albanian language is the core of all these documents. Language also forms the basis of this whole process to strengthen all that basic matter that ultimately gives us what is the reason why we are the same. The language!
Before I conclude, I’d like to add something, also taking notice of a debate that I think is being promoted by certain communication channels about the reality here in the country. I happened to watch some TV feature stories about textbooks being handed over to other pupils, according to a rule that defines providing textbooks for free to schoolchildren in our country. This is a process launched three years ago and many claim that the textbooks are used and inappropriate for pupils, saying that “if the government wants to provide books for free, let them be new textbooks etc.” What one should understand is that this is not a matter of money only; this is not a matter of our alleged failure to deliver on our pledges to provide textbooks for free and provide everyone brand new books. This is a government policy that has not been invented by us, but it is a policy pursued by all the countries that provide textbooks for free and it is mainly designed to educate pupils and young people with the idea that a book is a treasury that has to be shared with everyone else.

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