It’s Friday afternoon and I’m in a room with some very tired people. A Swede, a Serb, an Italian, some Kosovars. They work in one of the many organisations that has been in Kosovo since the war in 1999 to try to ‘stabilise’, do ‘statebuilding’, ‘conflict-resolution’, ‘EU integration’, ‘development’ and other important things. I’ve come to talk to them because, so far, in the midst of all this activity they haven’t (we haven’t) managed to get Gjelane – or Cima, or Faton or Kenan, or Emran or any of the others – to school.
What’s brilliant is that they are willing to help do so now. We talk about human rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Millennium Development Goals. They offer to help me find out on just which law the Administrative Instruction (like a by-law) which is preventing Gjelane and co. getting to school is based. Having heard about our project they’ve already been in contact with the Ministry who have confirmed that the situation about registration is as I’ve understood it, but that they can’t immediately provide the legal basis or reference for it. In the course of our discussions today someone produces a copy of a law which suggests that catch-up classes are in fact not the direct responsibility of the Municipality (as I’d been told at the Ministry) but the responsibility of the Ministry themselves. I can feel a headache coming on.
They give me a web address for me to look through all the Administrative Instructions issued by the Ministry since 2002, while we wait for the Ministry to provide some information. When I get home I look through the archive. It’s fascinating. I can’t find any ruling about registrations, but I find the Administrative Instruction on school picnics. I translate…
Article 2: picnics
1. Picnics take place for Year 1 and twice a year. At the beginning of the school year and at the end of the school year.
2. The teacher sets the time and place where the picnic will occur.
3. Picnics are to be organised within the territory of the relevant municipality.
4. A picnic day is counted as a teaching day.
5. The fact of the picnic having taken place should be detailed in the diary and in lesson plans, and note should be made of the names of pupils who did not attend the picnic.
I wonder whether there is somewhere the logbook of a conscientious local teacher with the details of twice-yearly picnics organised and, in accordance with the law, the careful note, ‘Absent: Gjelane, Cima, Faton, Kenan, Emran…’
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