REF and Partners Announce over 500 Beneficiaries to an Expanded Secondary Scholarship Program in Kosovo

On Tuesday, November 11, at an official ceremony in Prishtina, 500 Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian secondary students were awarded with scholarships.

On Tuesday, November 11, at an official ceremony in Prishtina, 500 Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian secondary students were awarded with scholarships. By accepting this scholarship they joined a group of 480 students, for a fourth year in a row, who are beneficiaries of the countrywide Secondary Scholarship and Mentorship Program in Kosovo financed by the Roma Education Fund, HEKS (in turn, financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation), the Norwegian Embassy, the Finnish Embassy and amongst others, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST). The official ceremony brought together students, parents and officials from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, embassies, international organizations, representatives of the British Embassy in Prishtina and KFOR.

Hosted by Mr. Isak Skenderi from the NGO Voice of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians, the ceremony began with welcoming remarks from Z. Uzmen Baldzi, Deputy Minister from Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. He introduced the new policies that promote greater participation of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian students in schools. The government of Kosovo, in particular MEST and the Ministry of Communities and Returns, has supported  Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians communities with registration in the secondary school in order to retain the students and promote their academic excellence.

The Secondary Scholarship Program aims to improve the enrolment, retention rate and academic achievement of 500 RAE students in each of the academic years 2014-2015, and 2015-2016. The objective is to support RAE students to be enrolled in secondary schools and technical vocational education schools through better outreach and positive interventions, and through scholarship, mentorship and tutorship support.

Norwegian Ambassador Mr. Braathu illuminated the students and audience, promising that the Norwegian government will continue to support this project as well as other Roma, Egyptian and Ashkali initiatives that aim to improve the situation of these communities. The Deputy Ambassador from Switzerland, Mr. Schweizer, encouraged students to use the scholarship program as an opportunity to continue their education as a key to success. On this occasion, the representative of British Embassy also offered additional support so the program can reach even more students.

During this event Mrs. Marsela Taho from the Roma Education Fund remarked on the positive examples of Secondary Scholarship Program and their beneficiaries as role models for their communities. Provisional educational outcomes are expected to be improved attendance, improving school success and reducing drop-out rates.

Finally, a beneficiary student guest speaker expressed her gratefulness to all the stakeholders in this project who are helping Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian students to reach their dreams and full education potential.

Photographs of the event can be accessed here.