chapter
28 Pages

Introduction

Bells in Kosovo’s schools rang to announce the start of the new school year only for Serbs and Montenegrins in the autumn of 1991. They were now almost sole occupants of classrooms in Serbia’s disputed province with about 90 per cent majority Albanian population. The application of new education and labour laws by Serbia after its forceful abolition of Kosovo’s autonomy in 1989 rendered most Albanian pupils ‘schoolless’ and their teachers and administrators jobless. Starting the new school year belatedly in January 1992, Albanian pupils greeted their teachers in living rooms, garages, shops and cellars throughout Kosovo. The creation of what came to be known as parallel education for and by Albanians in Kosovo was a powerful demonstration of their resistance to the Serbian state and its policies. The post-autonomy Kosovo became a land of parallel worlds. Albanians and Serbs lived side by side without contact across national lines. To Serbs, Kosovo was a part of a unified Serbia. To Albanians, Kosovo was their own independent republic. Ethnically divided primary and secondary schools as well as university simultaneously reflected and fuelled Serbian-Albanian conflict over the control of Kosovo. The spatial separation between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo in the 1990s and the impact it had on national identity of Kosovo Albanians are the themes this book explores.