The removal of Minister of Education Rame Likaj and Deputy Minister Driton Bardheci from office has been requested in a letter by civil society to Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti, which describes their executive positions in the ministry as “unacceptable.”
A coalition of 13 civil society organisations has requested that Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti remove members of the Ministry of Education from his cabinet, describing their appointment as “the latest blow to the education system in Kosovo.”
In an open letter, the organisations, including BIRN Kosovo, request the replacement of Minister Rame Likaj and Deputy Minister Driton Bardheci, stating that their lack of experience and qualifications makes their appointment “unacceptable for any citizen of Kosovo that seeks quality, relevant and serious education for our new generations.”
Allegations of plagiarism made against Minister Likaj are one of the key justifications for seeking his removal. A number of academic journals in which Likaj has published scientific works have been labelled as contested and removed from international scholarly databases. “But this fact has not hindered his advancement within the public University of Prishtina, nor his appointment as Minister of Education,” the letter states.
The coalition also highlights that Deputy Minister Bardheci has no academic qualifications or experience that would make him appropriate for a job at the Ministry of Education. “In particular, given that Mr Bardheci is still a Bachelor’s student at the University of Prishtina, his appointment to an executive position in relation to public university bodies poses a conflict of interest.”
The letter highlights the effects of “serious shortcomings in educational policies” in Kosovo, noting the country’s low test scores in international student assessment rankings and the World Bank’s findings that the functional illiteracy rate among 15-year-olds in Kosovo is around 78 per cent.
The coalition requests that Hoti appoint a minister with the necessary skills to lead the ministry, and appoint a deputy minister that “embodies a standard of quality and commitment needed to strongly support education reform.” It also urges the prime minister to initiate a state-wide vetting process of academic staff across public universities in the country.
“The transformation of education in Kosovo can only happen if it is a priority of the government, starting with the prime minister,” the letter concludes.
26 June 2020 - 16:44