So it turns out that it’s not as easy as I thought. Gjelane could have registered at school two years ago, even one year ago, but she is now 9 years old. I learn that by Kosovan law she can’t now register at school unless she can pass a test. And how can she learn what she needs to pass a test if she isn’t at school?
I make an appointment to meet with the Ministry of Education. They confirm that this is indeed the ridiculous situation. But by law, they assure me, the municipality must provide ‘catch-up’ (the officer uses this word even in Albanian, but she pronounces it ‘ketchup’, which confuses me at first) classes for kids like Gjelane. That’s good news; I ask for details of these classes. Ah, but in fact in this municipality there are no ketchup classes.
Is there provision in other municipalities in Kosovo? Ah, no. Not at the moment. So, just to confirm: if you are a 9 year old girl in Kosovo who wants to go to school to learn to write your name but you haven’t yet registered, your options are…? The officer shrugs. It appears that Gjelane has no options.
Gjelane’s story is now told in a book published as The Rubbish-Picker’s Wife; an unlikely friendship in Kosovo (Elbow Publishing, 2015) and available on Amazon