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While Kosovo’s future remains uncertain, the country is squandering its most precious asset – its educated young people. Political instability, economic stagnation and a dismal educational system have students and young adults looking to flee the country with the youngest population in Europe. (Roughly half of the population is under 25.)
The Kosovar Institute for Policy Research and Development published a report earlier this year which lamented the quality of university education denouncing its poor management and corruption. Good test results and exams can be bought while critical thinking, interdisciplinary teaching and group work remain a low priority. Private universities have not led to any increase in the quality of education, as the same professors teach at both public and private universities.
Studying abroad is not much of an option for young Kosovo students. In addition to various visa restrictions, very few benefit from extended scholarship programmes. Despite the fact the 5 million Euro were allocated to TEMPUS programmes in Kosovo, considerable amounts of money were not used due to the low quality of the projects. The low quality of education in Kosovo also makes it difficult to compete for an Erasmus Mundus scholarship. Only three or four Kosovo students participated in the Erasmus Mundus programme this year. Moreover, Kosovo is no stranger to brain drain. The ones that do manage to leave the country, are not likely to come back, despite their willingness to bring home the skills they have gained.
Last week, after a heated discussion, the EU failed to reach an agreement on the independence of Kosovo. This volatile state of affairs will continue to block the progress of education reform in Kosovo.