The crisis for natural science teachers


In this school year that is ending, the Municipality of Podujeva opened two competitions to recruit two physics teachers. But there was no application. In the "temples of knowledge", the lack of qualified personnel is also presented for the subject of mathematics. The competition for the recruitment of a teacher for the "Jeta e Re" gymnasium in Suharekë has been opened three times. In the end, one student was engaged for six months

Educational institutions in Kosovo face the lack of a framework to teach science that describes the functioning of nature using the language of mathematics.

In this school year that is ending, the Municipality of Podujeva opened two competitions to recruit two physics teachers. But there was no application.

To cover the lessons, the Municipal Directorate of Education was forced to distribute them to the current teachers. And this caused excessive hours for some teachers.

The Director of Education, Avni Fetahu, says that the situation is worrying. He expresses his shyness that in the future classes will be left without natural science lecturers who study matter, its movement and behavior through space and time.

"Initially, the Faculty of Sciences produced cadres with a four-year qualification, some profiles even with 180 credits. The Administrative Instruction foresees at least 240 credits, but in their absence they can be taken with 180 credits, especially in the absence of the Physics profile, candidates with 180 credits can also be taken, despite the fact that we have announced the competition twice in a row... We have raised this as a concern within the Ministry of Education, but also in the Collegium of Education to give these cadres the opportunity and increase their number, to encourage young candidates, especially those who finish secondary education, to be oriented in the profiles that can reach employment as soon as possible, i.e. mathematics, physics, biology and chemistry", said Fetahu.

In the "temples of knowledge", the lack of qualified personnel is also presented for the subject of mathematics.

The competition for the recruitment of a teacher for the "Jeta e Re" gymnasium in Suharekë has been opened three times.

In the competition announced to replace the teacher who is on maternity leave, there were no qualified candidates. In order for the students to keep the lessons, the Director of Education, Remzi Bajselmani, says that he was forced to engage a student for six months.

"Recently, this year, the subject of mathematics has been presented as a problem, we did not have graduates, we were forced to announce a competition two or three times to hire a teacher. These are  for maternity leave replacements, for which we are forced to take non-graduate students so as not to lose students. While other profiles think that we are good, but the lack of ICT teachers has started to become noticeable, because there are no graduates either", declared Bajselmani.

Engagement of the "trainee" as a teacher

Despite not having the proper qualification, for the director of the "Jeta e Re" high school, Fadil Elshani, the commitment of the "intern" has shown productivity in learning. 

"Initially, most of the hours were replaced by our colleagues here, then the intern started. I call him an intern, but he had the status of a professor because he was accepted on the basis of the competition and continued his work. It is known that he was not graduated in the subject of mathematics, but it seems that in this part of ours there is a shortage of mathematics professors. I parted satisfied with him, despite the fact that he had his difficulties since he does not have the experience and completed qualification for this matter, but I think that this is how they should be motivated", Elshani emphasized.

The profiling of teachers shows the discrepancy between the educational programs and the labor market. While there is a shortage of staff in scientific subjects, there is an overload of staff at the primary level. About two thousand teachers are considered technological surplus due to the continuous decrease in the number of students, and this is highlighted in the primary level classes.

Failure to follow the pace of the labor market is also observed in the registration of students at the University of Pristina, which is the only public higher education institution that produces staff for subject teachers.

The possibility to qualify as a subject teacher is offered by the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Mathematical-Natural Sciences. In the last registration of students for the academic year 2023/2024, the open places were not filled. 20 students were enrolled in the Teaching of Mathematics, while 13 were enrolled in the Teaching of Physics at the Faculty of Education. And at FSHMN, seven were enrolled in Mathematics and four in Physics.

This year there is a risk of shortening the possibility to qualify as a Physics teacher in the Faculty of Education. KOHA reported last year that this program will not be able to enroll students for this academic year as the competition opened last year to engage a professor in the Teaching of Physics at the master's level ended without any recommendation, as the two candidates who applied according to the members of the Evaluation Committee did not meet the criteria. Since January 2023, this department has been left without professors for this direction.

Difficulty with teaching staff

The Ministry of Education has also been informed about the lack of qualified teachers in some profiles. But until now, this institution has not announced the compilation of a strategy to encourage young people to train in these areas.

In the latest PISA report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the reports of educational institutions about difficulties regarding teaching staff have also appeared.

27.1 percent of principals stated that they have a shortage of teaching staff. 12.9 percent of them stated that they have inadequate or unqualified teachers.

In this report, it is emphasized that the lack of teachers in the fields of science is a global problem. But that Kosovo is better with teaching staff, compared to neighboring countries.

Sabri Rudari has been working as a mathematics teacher for over two decades at the "Shaban Shala" school in Podujevë. He says that the inconsistency of the salary with the responsibility charged by this profession is one of the reasons that the new generations are reluctant to study this field.

"I think that the curriculum is busy, I'm talking about this elementary school and this probably makes people hesitate more. It started from the students who say it's busy, now the belief is created that it's difficult. But then there is the payment and he wants a lot of work and great responsibility", said Rudari.

And according to the former Deputy Minister of Education, Dukagjin Pupovci, the problem lies in the fact that the teaching profession is not attractive.

Pupovci: The teaching profession is not attractive.

"In order to take measures, the teaching profession must be made attractive, it is not always enough to give scholarships for studies because these are short-term rewards and then people have to pay it back throughout their career. But it is simply necessary to work more on improving the position of teachers, especially their material side, especially the organization within the school, better themselves in the school, I am talking about the people who will come to the school so that the profession is attractive. Then another thing that can be done is to diversify the fields of study. For example, in Kosovo we have in natural sciences when we go and prepare teachers in only one field, physics, mathematics, biology. Here, it should be seen that people qualify for two fields in similar fields", declared Pupovci.

Another field with a shortage of lecturers in educational institutions is the subject of the German language. According to the Faculty of Philology, there is no shortage of staff, but graduates prefer to work in countries that offer a higher salary.

And to fulfill this norm, the municipalities employ people with English language qualification.

KOHA reported last year that seven people were employed in Drenas with qualifications in English language and literature.

"For the German language, we have some that are adequate, but we also have a lack of staff, and in the absence of this, we replace them for one school year, because we are obliged based on the Administrative Instruction that we cannot sign a long-term contract until the selection of candidates as required by the Administrative Instruction", said Muhamet Gjoka, Director of Education in Drenas.

The professor of the German language at the Faculty of Philology, Vjosa Sadriu-Hamiti, said that the employment of teachers with inadequate qualifications has consequences for children.

"It's almost impossible, I can't imagine that a professor in English or French can enter a class with over 30 students and speak German," she said. "If a teacher who has completed English, French and knows German at A1 doesn't even do that part well, then it only harms the child", said Sadriu-Hamiti.

The Municipality of Suhareka has faced the same situation. But the move of two teachers from Rahoveci to Suhareka for marital reasons has solved their problem.

"Fortunately, the municipality of Suhareka for German language staff is complete, as we were lucky that two teachers from the municipality of Rahovec moved to Suhareka after they got married in Suhareka and with regular competition procedures they underwent the procedures and were employed in Suhareka . So all the schools in Suhareka have professionals and qualified for the German language, which when we participate in meetings with the municipal directorates, most of the municipalities present as a problem the lack of graduates in the German language", said Bajselmani.

The problems that await Kosovo after a decade

Another reason for not pursuing the teaching profession, according to Pupovc, is the uncertainty created due to the drop in the number of students.

"Another thing that causes reserve in people is the continuous reduction of the number of students in Kosovo, which is something inevitable that cannot be stopped either by political or administrative measures, and this naturally creates an ever smaller demand for teachers and people have uncertainty there. It happens that those who are working there have their rate reduced, it starts with the full rate of 20 hours, the next year it goes to 16 hours, and this also affects the salary reduction, it is not so positive for the new generations to they are oriented towards that profession", added Pupovci.

According to the Statistics Agency (ASK), for 13 years the number of students has decreased by about 90 in the country. In 2010, the number of students in primary and lower secondary education was over 300 thousand students, this year there are about 212 thousand students.

The reasons for the small number of students in schools, according to KAS, are the drop in the birth rate and the migration of families from Kosovo.

The KAS projection for the years 2011-2061 shows that 2034 is expected to be the year when Kosovo will begin to face depopulation as a demographic problem, which will continue to deepen from decade to decade.