chapter  6
31 Pages

Segregation in Kosovo prevails before and after NATO intervention

Conceptualized as ‘an attribute of statehood’,1 the Albanian-language education system was to contribute to the institutionalization and building of the Albanian state in Kosovo. However, the institutional disintegration of educational authorities eventually undermined the education’s statebuilding mission. The absence of clear allocation of legislative and executive power in the Albanian parallel state in the post-autonomy period was coupled with a lack of opportunity for legal redress. This resulted in the proliferation of decision-making centres both among the Albanians in Kosovo and in the diaspora. As all of them competed for control over it, Albanian education in Kosovo was confronted with the prospect of selfdestruction. The last-ditch diplomatic attempt to improve the position of Albanians in Kosovo focused on the desegregation of Kosovo’s education in spring 1998. It came too late. The idea of ethnic mixing was beyond the estranged and antagonized Serbian and Albanian youth of Kosovo. In the early years of Albanians’ resistance, when there was hope in the effectiveness of non-violence, parallel education was primarily equated with freedom to learn about the nation. As hopes faded, parallel education became a symbol only of the failure of Albanian pacifism and the ruthlessness of Serbian repression. It became one more reason for Kosovo Albanians to seek the fulfilment of national aspirations by other means. The outbreak of armed conflict between the Serbian security forces and Albanian guerrillas in spring 1998 transformed the Albanian national struggle in Kosovo. However, the end of the war in Kosovo in spring 1999 and the end of the Serbian rule did not remove the notion of spatial separation between Albanians and Serbs. It continued in an equally crude form, only the two communities exchanged places. Albanians returned to the school and university buildings, while Serbs organized Serbian classes in private houses and the few proper school buildings available to them. This chapter examines the internal fragmentation of the Albanian parallel education system. It is followed by the analysis of doomed attempts at the desegregation of the Kosovo education system after the signing of the Serbian-Albanian education agreement. However, desegregation was also attempted by Albanian students who launched a series of peaceful protests

in autumn 1997. The chapter concludes by looking at the reversal of segregation in education in Kosovo after the end of the NATO intervention in 1999.