Prime Minister Edi Rama’s remarks at meeting with teachers and contributors to the dedicated educational broadcasting channel “RTSH School” ahead of the new school year:
First and foremost, I would like to extend my wholeheartedly gratitude to all teachers attending this meeting today, who were picked to deliver lessons and lectures to early learners, primary and secondary students via TV channel. You were all selected among the most experienced and best teachers all over Albania. I believe it is not simply a coincidence that you are all women, mothers and girls. I am extremely glad that we conclude today this great, joint effort, your effort first and foremost, and we are able to offer a learning alternative to all students, but especially in today’s conditions when the educational process is challenged by the need to protect both the health of children and the health of families. This is easier said rather than done, as we are pretty aware that transmission and the spread of the virus may surge significantly with the reopening of schools and this is of course a challenge in itself.
On the other hand, carefully weighing all aspects of this decision and talking notice of the experiences in other countries, there is no doubt that the option of keeping the schools closed is definitely the worst option, which could incur another cost and effects to children, especially psychological ones and such an option could cause effects and damages that could be incalculable. However, all countries have considered and have decided that this is an unacceptable option compared to the danger coming with the reopening of schools.
Returning to the educational broadcasting channel “RTSH School”, I think this dedicated educational channel is vitally important, not just because of the current situation, which, even though we don’t know when it is going to end and it will some day, but it is of great value for everyone in terms of two other aspects.
One aspect has to do with the opportunity every schoolchildren all over Albania is provided with to check and compare the lessons they have been taught, attend these lessons being taught by a teacher they don’t know, but who is one of the most experienced and best performing teachers in Albania, so that pupils can develop their confidence regarding a certain subject and lesson.
This will certainly will positively challenge and put under a positive pressure other teachers, who teach same subjects in their schools and this way they will bear in mind the fact that children will be able to attend via TV channel the same lesson they teach in their classrooms and schoolchildren will be able to watch and find out the version taught by teachers of highest calibre today. This will certainly add another not a so big opportunity until now and which system has sought to compensate through training programs and updating teaching methods, because other teachers themselves will surely and curiously watch how you deliver your lessons and compare it with the way they teach their students and how their subject is taught via this TV channel that synthesizes experience, talent and know-how of Albania’s best performing teachers.
This is the first aspect that the educational broadcasting channel will be very helpful.
This channel will provide a valuable contribution to another important aspect, as it will significantly ease and provide a sigh of relief for many families and children in the country’s remote areas, where, for 1001 reasons, a system of collective classes and classrooms is inherited over the years and which we are consistently reducing until their complete closure. This way, the system itself, under the Ministry of Education’s guidance will begin to adapt by combining teaching of certain subjects via the TV channel and other subjects in school, because I believe, as Besa already noted, the TV channel, the computer and the smart phone can never replace the teacher-student relationship in the tangible reality with the physical presence of the teacher, because the process includes many other elements concerning communication and education, and simply broadcasting knowledge to a certain group of viewers.
In this aspect, through this dedicated educational channel we will be able to deliver highest teaching qualities all over Albania. On the other hand, we also provide children in remote areas and those in collective classes in particular, the opportunity to engage in various collective activities that differ from the intellectual activity of teaching and learning a specific lesson and subject. This is not something that only we can do.
I believe that during this time too you have been all informed about this effort, similar to the efforts already underway in Germany, France, Italy, to name some, but the majority of these countries have embarked on this path and have enhanced forces to provide not only online learning, but also the TV learning.
It is a beautiful novelty created under unexpected circumstances, but which provides a fresh breath to the teaching and learning process. On the other hand, this will also be an added value to the communication with children abroad. Children, their parents and other interested individuals will be able to attend lessons being taught in Albanian language, no matter where they are geographically.
Of course, I believe that there are reasons and opportunities to further develop this channel, to further supplement it with intermediate activity and not just teaching specifically, but to also include teachers’ contributions, with programmes featuring teachers answering certain questions, colleagues and their family members being interviewed about various prominent teachers. This channel may include also special shows. With the help of the education institutions across the country, we will certainly also be able to figure out which are the main questions arising in the course of this process, which are he needs that can be met through this process, to continue delivering a high quality service also through television and to use as much as we can your experience and talent in this domain.
The education system will face a tremendous challenge as the new school year opens on Sept 14. It is a terrible challenge, because, if we are to consider the age and if we are to consider that the small children will be forced to do completely the opposite of what they are told to do by their parents, when advised to shake hand with friends, hug their friends and play with them. I am sure you know better than I do how complicated in pedagogical and psychological terms to tell them whatever we have told and taught them are exactly the things they shouldn’t absolutely do.
On the other hand, just imagine the workload you and all teachers will have to manage so that you don’t lose patience in the face of all sorts of manifestations of impatience and disobedience, or the different characters of children. In order for each and every one of you not to lose patience would mean that you will have to act more like a parent rather than a teacher, but also in the role of a parent you should become a very rare kind of the parent, as they lose patience too and resort to orders waiting for the child to grasp what he or she should do.
This is a huge psychological challenge for the teachers themselves, who can be exhausted and suffer nervous breakdown, because this is not a one-week, two-week, or one-month experiment, but it is a new way of living in the school space, a way of communication in the school space and the need for teachers to be the ones to implement this new way, naturally contradicts the teachers’ need to have their own space to breathe. Teachers should first show extreme patience, be super disciplined so that they do not violate these rules, as they should serve as a role model for everyone and the teacher’s example is somehow a reason to imitate or laugh at when a teacher violates precisely the rule he or she asks and teaches others to comply with. And when it comes to the positive example, it takes time to get used to and imitate it, whereas a negative example can be imitated in a second, as it promotes rule violation and freedom to violate the rule. And this is because rules are perceived to be boring, especially amid kids and teenagers.
However, the reason I am here today is to express my thanks and sincere gratitude for your extraordinary contribution.
I know pretty well that teachers of your calibre in particular provide a contribution, normally greater than the support you enjoy in every aspect. However, you should also know that I and we are very aware of this and we will do whatever it takes to boost support for you, even though the conditions are currently not optimal to think about this.
We think we should make a strenuous effort for doctors and teachers. For doctors first, due to the emergency situation they are dealing with and the incredibly extraordinary work they are doing. But this will be the case with teachers too and a decision will be made very soon.
We are considering a merit-based evaluation system for teachers. We are going over it and we will be most likely ready to tell how the system will work by the start of the next academic year, with the best performing teachers, teachers like you should be treated financially better, based on strict criteria and measurable performance results.
This will allow for the best performing teachers benefit higher support, but it will also incite competitiveness for other teachers to work and perform better.
However, we are seeking to announce a new salary rise for teachers and doctors and we believe the decision will be made soon under the next year’s state budget. We believe that all teachers and health workers deserve the new pay hike. Whereas you in particular deserve a lot more than this and we will do utmost efforts to make sure you earn what you deserve. And by saying “you” I don’t mean only you here in this hall, but also other best performing teachers in the republic, who, fortunately, are not few, even though, as it is the case with all categories, because of few bad examples, many teachers and doctors, policemen, state officials, civil servants and politicians are all subject to critics and allegations, creating a stereotype with everyone being the same, which is indeed not true at all and it is unfair due to the fact that the overwhelming majority of these people are absolutely different. And if you are to consider the conditions under which they have exercised their profession over the years, you would find out they are absolutely different.
I would like to point out another aspect I believe you keep in mind. We are carrying out an important process in work implementation and the Education Leadership programme designed to improve schools management and create another profile and approach to the school management, which is typically a quite more complex process than it seems at first glance or than we are used to. The Education Leadership Centre founded to train principals of the pre-university system schools has become operational and initial certificates are being issued. We believe a lot in this process. However, I am very pleased – and teachers can confirm this for themselves – that we have managed to remove teachers from the claws of politics and clientelistic promotion of teachers. We have made sure that teachers cannot be easily fired. Teachers can no longer be transferred from an area to another depending on political affiliations, bribes and influences. The portal is now consolidated and it provides guarantees that the teachers’ recruitment and promotion is done on a very objective basis. Of course, the good is infinite and the portal must perfect further, but it is very important to me that we have succeeded in healing a very big wound over these years, which was the wound of extreme politicization of the teaching staff policy that affected women, mothers and fathers, who suddenly and unexpectedly found themselves thrown out of the workplace. It also brought effects to teachers of your calibre, who all of a sudden found themselves be side by side with a colleague who had nothing to do with teaching, but had taken up the job through the unscrupulous way teachers were hired.
Thank you very much for this opportunity, so that I could express this gratitude to you and at the same time modestly share these opinions with you.
We are very grateful for the work you have done in extremely difficult conditions. I have seen some of the footage in those rooms of the Ministry of Education and I was really impressed. It takes a lot of passion and patience to do all this workload you have done.
Lots of respect!
Thank you very much!