Valbona Kadriu, a Master’s student at the Faculty of Education, a mother of two, talks about the great burdens she continues to face as a student and as a mother at the same time. Valbona is just one of those women who take on the responsibilities of housework and caring for others. Despite the fact that she has to travel every day to go to lectures, to take care of her husband’s parents, to prepare meals, these do not seem as challenging to her as motherhood.
“Motherhood is a challenge in itself, it requires commitment, will, love and what not.”
Valbona’s biggest concern is whether she can help and hug her children when they need her.
“Worry that you cannot help the child when he needs it, because you are attending your lectures. Worry that I may have neglected him, unintentionally, because I was preparing for exams; these have been and remain among the most challenges”, she adds.
A more or less similar case is that of Razie Kastrati, a Master’s student in the Department of Sociology. She had been pregnant during her studies but did not see it as reasonable to discontinue them. The beginning had been difficult to deal with both at once, but over time she had gotten accustomed to it. She categorically denies ever feeling prejudiced by colleagues or professors about the pregnancy.
“Not at all. On the contrary, I was a motive for my colleagues”, she added.
Valbona does not share such a bad experience with her colleagues: at first she was prejudiced but also criticised by her colleagues just because she was a mother, since according to them it was impossible for her to finish her studies.
“Criticisms have been of various kinds, such as: You have just started, however after a while you will leave the faculty, you will not be able to continue, only one year and you will fail.”
At first she was influenced by these words, but very soon she had overcome these barriers and continued to live the dream she had always had.
Other challenges besides these, shows a doctoral candidate who wishes to remain anonymous. For her, self-financing of studies had been a relatively major challenge.
“The level of doctoral studies includes higher expenses than the semester ones, as well as the obligations of publishing scientific papers in indexed journals. Also, the lack of online access to libraries is a challenge in itself, where we could gather a lot of the materials we need for research and studies.”
Albana Istogu, a graduate of the Faculty of Education at the University of Prishtina (UP), says that she did not immediately continue her studies at the Master level, because initially she wanted to be employed as a teacher and then continue her studies, but that she still has not been given the opportunity to work.
As the main reason for not continuing her studies, she points out something specific, although she lists a number of factors, including the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, which had pushed her to commit to something else.
She however says she still definitely plans to continue her studies in the Master’s program.
“Yes of course. In the first opportunity that will come to me, I will continue this journey left halfway, because I want to take it to the end and one day I too, give my contribution as a teacher “.
Of course the pandemic is one of the recent factors, but there are other factors that need to be considered and have existed for a long time and one of them is creating a family.
Donika Lamaxhema-Mehmetaj, communication associate at UN Women says that starting a family was the main reason for leaving studies.
“The main burden falls on women for family care. Not just for her children but for her husband and his family members as well.”
Women in Kosovo, despite the challenges, unlike men / boys, have a higher involvement in postgraduate education. This is a “trend” in recent years, because, until the last ten years, the participation of men in postgraduate education was higher than that of women for many reasons.
Donika says the historic oppression of women and girls has created an extraordinary ambition for advancement.
“It is now understood that education is the only force that changes the status quo for everyone, especially for women and girls who in certain periods in our country did not even have access to education.”
Qëndresa Kadriqeli, a sociologist, also says that women/girls in recent times, especially after the war, are being educated more, because “The European spirit in raising awareness of family members has made it easier for them to penetrate the labour market.”
According to her, the challenge for girls and women is also the fear of inadequate inclusion in the labour market.
“I see the girls’ fear of not being included in the labour market in the profession in which they study as a challenge, and this may even affect them leaving their studies halfway.”.
While the doctoral student, who studies at the Faculty of Law, says that in terms of the connection of girls / women at labour work, the fact that they are still discriminated against has an impact.
“In Kosovo, ‘de jure’ girls / women are equal before the law, but ‘de facto’ still remain discriminated against in many respects, which is why we are not satisfied with the situation we are in, but engage in identifying factors and advancing the position of women. ”
A candidate of this level in the Faculty of Economics (who also wishes to remain anonymous) indicates that she had paused after studying for a Master’s to continue her Doctorate. She says she chose UP because it was easier to be close to work and close to family and because of the lower cost of studying at UP compared to other universities in the region.
Statistics show that women and girls attend more studies than men and boys, which is becoming more common lately. For this, the doctoral student says that most men and boys take many things in life for granted, while women consider that they have to work hard to achieve what men see as such.
“I think this happens because of the way boys and men, girls and women grow up and are educated in our society, where boys / men have more welfare advantages from family, society, etc. This is one reason I personally notice most of them who continue their studies at these levels, a reason which encourages these women / girls to develop their careers. ”
She also says studying for a doctorate is challenging because of the limited time she has available to devote herself properly.
Donika Lamaxhema-Mehmetaj considers that gender stereotypes are affecting our perceptions of men and women and the expectations we may have towards them.
“Gender stereotypes are what pave the way for specific expectations from men / boys and women / girls. This harms both genders. As the dynamics of life have changed, gender roles have remained more static, disfavouring women more than men.”
The sociologist Kadriqeli agrees that gender stereotypes affect the perception of expectations we can have from men and women.
“Knowing that gender stereotypes are the way society categorises women and men, unfortunately they affect the perception of the expectations they may have towards them,” she says.
A study by the Riinvest Institute, conducted in 2004, states that in this period the percentage of men in pre- and post-university education was 55% higher compared to the percentage of women / girls in 2002/2003. This is evidenced by a subsequent study by the World Bank, 2012, which shows that 12% of boys and men have a university degree, while girls and women are only 6% with this type of degree and when we compare it with today, it turns out to be a relatively large difference.
Despite the aforementioned challenges, women and girls manage to enrol and graduate more than men and boys. According to the statistics of the Rectorate of UP, in 2020/2021 the number of students enrolled in the Master level was 2016, of which 1291 girls / women and 725 boys / men. While the number of candidates who attend the Doctoral level was much lower than that of the Master level. At this level, in the academic year 2020/2021, 108 students were admitted to UP, of which 52 girls / women and 56 boys / men. The same statistics can be found in the Kosovo Agency of Statistics (KAS).
The statistics differ slightly from those graduated in 2019/2020 and 2020/2021. Graduates, girls and women also come out in greater numbers at the Master level, but this varies among those who graduate at the Doctoral level. According to the statistics of the Rectorate and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST), it results that the number of graduates at the Master level in 2019/2020 was 1238, of which 721 girls / women and 517 boys / men. While in doctorate, in 2020/2021, 44 students had graduated, of which 23 boys / men and 21 girls / women.
Whereas, from the latest statistics for the current year of studies from the Rectorate of UP it appears that in the academic year 2021/2022 at the Master level 2114 students have been admitted, of which 1404 are girls / women and 710 boys / men. In the same academic year, 1208 students have graduated, of which 804 girls / women and 404 boys / men, while 30 students have completed their doctoral level, of which 15 girls / women and 15 boys / men.
If we compare the University of Prishtina with that of Bosnia and Herzegovina according to the Statistics Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the statistics differ in the number of students, but even in this university for a small percentage girls and women continue their studies more than boys and men. Regarding the situation at the University of Bosnia and Herzegovina, they are as follows: In the academic year 2019/2020 are registered a total of 47,607 girls / women and 33,621 boys / men, of which 10,670 girls / women and 7065 boys / men are graduates. While at the Master level there are 2120 girls / women and 1268 boys / men. In contrast to the high number at the Bachelor and Master levels, this number drops significantly to the Doctoral level where 69 of them are girls / women and 97 boys / men.
In the academic year 2020/2021 46221 girls / women and 32 122 boys / men were registered, while in the same year 15936 girls / women and 10646 boys / men graduated. While at the Master level there are 2040 girls / women and 1118 boys / men. While at the Doctoral level, this year 58 girls / women and 90 boys / men have graduated.
Financial problems are the main problem for dropping out of school and only 7% of students receive scholarships for education, which in most cases is 50 – 100 €. This applies to both boys/ men and girls / women students. In 2020, there were 10.8% more graduated girls / women from college / academia / university than boys / men in BiH.
Blerona Zariqi, Vesa Avdiu, Dragoslav Šarac