2018-19 student protest in Albania

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2018-19 student protest in Albania
Ministry of education students protest.jpeg
Date4 December 2018 – ongoing
Location
Caused byHigh tuition fees in public universities,
living conditions in dormitories and
Student's involvement in decision-making
Goals
  • Growth 5% GDP for education system
  • 50% vote of students in Senate Academy
  • Resign of Board Member Administration of Universities
  • Lower tuition fees
  • Better living conditions in dormitories
  • Vetting for university officials
  • Abrogation of the Higher Education Law
Methods
Parties to the civil conflict
Albania Albanian students
Lead figures
Albania Collective leadership
Number
20,000 students
unknown
Casualties
Injuries25 persons are notify for penal process from Albanian Police

The 2018-19 student protests in Albania are a series of street protests, demonstrations and online activism events held by the students of the public universities since December 2018 to oppose the high tuition rates. Students across Albania rallied against the moves that were made by the Albanian government to increase the cost of university education, by introducing new fees for exams. The fee comes on top of the dramatically risen university fees, which have failed to lead to any improvement in public education.

The protest[edit]

Protesters outside the Ministry of Education

Protests started on December 4 by the students of the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanistics of the Polytechnic University of Tirana and many other joined during the third day of the protest on December 7th.

Thousands of students across Tirana boycotted the lessons and marched from their faculties towards the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports' Building demanding the Ministry to cut of the tuition fees and the annulment of the government's decision on the additional fee for resit exams, together with other requirements like better living conditions in dormitories and a bigger involvement of students in the decision-making process. It was the biggest protest the country had seen in years.[1]

Students from the public universities in other cities like Durrës, Shkodra, Elbasan and Korça also joined the student protests that started in Tirana by boycotting the lectures and rallying in the streets.[2]

On the 2nd day of the protest, the Education Minister Lindita Nikolla declared that the government's decision on higher fees would be nullified, but the students decided to continue the protests for their other demands.[3]

The protest continued in the following weeks and the students, organized through social media, sent an official letter to the government with 8 non-negotiable demands. The protest started to get massive, with many citizens joining and all students in Albania boycotting the lessons. The protest was also supported by professors of public universities and other public figures.

The students demanded the abrogation of the law for higher education, considering it as the main source of most problems they face today. At first, the Prime Minister offered some concessions regarding the abolition of tuition fees for excellent students and those from families in need and also employment opportunities in the public administration, which were immediately rejected. According to protesters, it does not make sense to provide alternative concessions instead of addressing the root cause.[4]

Government changes[edit]

The Prime Minister started a tour of visits to Public Universities, to dialogue with students about their problems. He started his tour in the Agricultural University of Tirana. Most students rejected the meetings and many of them left the room while the Prime Minister was talking. His request for dialogue was also rejected during the protest and in many television shows.

On December 28, Edi Rama reshuffled his cabinet with half of his ministers out, including the Education Minister, in response to the protests that have exposed the scale of popular discontent with his rule. The National Assembly of his governing Socialist Party gathered and there, Rama insisted that the changes were "not the result of failures". He blamed a "weak opposition" for many problems together with the media, which he has also previously called "garbage bins" for not seeing the economic success achieved by his government and blamed his own party officials for creating what he called "a caste".[5]

Plagiarism Scandal[edit]

Meme's were present during the protest, as most students were organized through social media and meme accounts

One of the reasons why students continued to protest, was also the huge plagiarism scandal that involved many public figures, mainly politicians and professors of public universities. The denouncement of cases of plagiarism started in October, when Taulant Muka, a young epidemiologist educated in the Netherlands, has waged a crusade against the “fake” PhDs held by many politicians and government functionaries. [6]

In spite of the media attention to this phenomenon, which for years had been informally known, only one official involved has been dismissed. The scandal also accused the Minister of Education of having an average grade of 5.8 out of 10, which is really low for students in Albania. Some receipts of her high school diploma were leaked and no action was taken.

Officials accused of plagiarism:

Public Universities Occupation[edit]

After resuming their protests in January, students decided to continue boycotting the lesson and to occupy their faculties, organizing debate forums and reading groups, until their requirements would be met. On January 9, students of two faculties, The Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Economics, spent the night inside the auditoriums.

On January 11, the police entered inside the faculties and there were cases of physical confrontation between the students and police officers.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Student Anger Over Higher Tuition Fees Rocks Albania :: Balkan Insight". balkaninsight.com. Retrieved 2018-12-06.
  2. ^ "Students from Korça, Durrës Join Protests in Tirana, Issue Demands | Exit - Explaining Albania". exit.al. Retrieved 2018-12-06.
  3. ^ The Associated Press (6 December 2018). "Albanian Students Demand Cut in Tuition Fees". Retrieved 11 December 2018 – via NYTimes.com.
  4. ^ Balcani e Caucasio (20 December 2018). "Escalation of students' protests in Albania". Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  5. ^ Balkans Insight (28 December 2018). "Albania PM Axes Seven Ministers After Protests". Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  6. ^ Exit.al (25 December 2018). "Massive plagiarism scandal hits Albanian officials". Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  7. ^ tirana times (20 October 2018). "Deputy minister of education resigns after plagiarism charges surface". Retrieved 30 December 2018.