According to the last census of 2011 there are 68 people of the Roma community and 143 of the Ashkali communityin the municipality of Vushtrri. Currently there are twelve students in severalsecondary and lower secondary schools in Vushtrri.
According to MilaimRamadani, the head of the non-governmental organization “Mitrovica’sAshkali Youth Progress – (PRAM)”,the situation of the communities in Vushtrriinthesocial psychological as well as educational aspect is not good.
“Given the small number of communities in Vushtrri, this municipality should be able to find a way to help them. The headof the municipal assembly has also stated that the community needs help,” he says.
According to him, PRAM alongside the municipality is jointly trying to overcome difficulties this community faces, and to provide greater support.
Organizing meetings with school leaders and discussions regarding problems that the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian community faces, is one of the planned activities.
SahitParduzi, the principal of the lower secondary school “SHMU2” in Vushtrri says that there are often misunderstandings when it comes to the integration of children from the communities, however there was never any discrimination in this school.
“We didn’t follow the path that we should be behaving differently when dealing with a student from the community. They’re all children – students. They are treated equally,” says Parduzi.
Parduzi points out that due to the fact that there are no ethnic divisions in this school, he doesn’t know the exact number of students coming from communities.He mentions some great examples among students from the communities.
“Last year a student from the Ashkali community was part of the school’s football team and he was the best player. He represented our school on the state level and he represented us as a good student and player. They are in the same class, they work and study together, hang out and play together. There are no problems between them, there never were any,” he says.
Five students of the Ashkali community attend the lower secondary school “Mustafë Venhari” in Vushtrri. According to the principal of this school, Shyqeri Bunjaku, there was a single case of a student of this community dropping out of school, and that efforts were made to bring him back.
The municipal assembly of Vushtrri adopted the Local Action Plan for the Integration of the Roma and Ashkali community in this municipality based on the Law of Local Self-Government in 2014. In regard to education, several objectives have been set towards increasing the participation of community teachers in the school system.
Enver Bajrami, a spokesman for the Municipal Education Directorate, reports that currently only one member of the Ashkali community works as a teacher at the lower secondary school “Nazmi Zhegrova” in Stanofc i Poshtëm.
“We had cases dropouts from school within the communities in the previous years and we succeeded in bringing them back,” says Bajrami and adds that the number of community students who drop out of school has been significantly reduced.
In neighboring Mitrovica, which has 3000 of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian ethnicities, the situation is good, according to Ramadan from PRAM. However there is still the need of raising the awareness of students regarding dropping out of school.
He considers the lack of support from the local level, as the biggest problem of this community, which affects children to drop out of school.
“There are cases that the kid dropped out of school because he thought he was being discriminated. Another reason is also the social and economic aspect,” says Ramadani.
Employment of this community, according to him, is symbolic, and this purported by the fact that over 90% live on social assistance. Members of this community manage only three small businesses, that were launched with the assistance of PRAM, which provided necessary means.
“We are equal before the law, even though there may be small deviations.Nevertheless, we feel discriminated only because we are not represented in the municipal level of Mitrovica. There is no representative for the community,” says Ramadani.
The non-governmental organization PRAM from Mitrovica, since 2000 functions with an objective of reintegrating and empowering communities, increasing theirparticipation in civil society, and activities, as well as representing communities at the local level.
Among others, this organization also engages in the repatriation and integration of members of this community. More than 45 Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian,who had left Kosovo during the wave of migration towards Europe in 2014-2015, have been repatriated.