Thursday, July 6, 2017

Museum - the founding of the the University of Tetovo - now the State University of Tetovo - in Poroj

In Poroj, a village outside of Tetovo, there is a museum that documents the sobering history of the founding of the State University of Tetovo - the University of Tetovo - back in 1994.

Born out of the determination to found a university teaching in the Albanian language, members of the community came together to form this university in Tetovo.

College-bound students had previously traveled to Pristina in Kosovo to access higher education opportunities with ethnic Albanians, but, after the borders were closed by Slobodan Milošević, it became more difficult to secure higher education opportunities for students in their native tongue.

There were, of course, opportunities for select students to study at the prestigious state university in Skopje - UKIM, as UKIM was open to ethnic Albanian students. However, those opportunities were limited in scope - both by the number of seats for Albanian students and by the feasibility of travel and study in Skopje.

Members of the community wanted to establish a university in Tetovo where students could learn in the Albanian language. Without support from the state, the community came together - with volunteer professors, meeting in makeshift classrooms in peoples' houses.

This effort was met with resistance, however, as you can see in the newspaper articles and exhibits in the museum.  In one of the photos, you can see the villagers coming out on to the streets to protect the students, after about 300 troops were sent to address the situation.

As followers of this blog know, the situation continued to deteriorate, ultimately culminating in violence and bloodshed in 2001, after which the Ohrid Framework Agreement was negotiated to resolve the conflict peacefully and to address issues regarding ethnic Albanian minority rights.

Later the University of Tetovo was officially recognized as the State University of Tetovo in 2004.

The villagers of Poroj gave the building to the University, and recently the University financed the reconstruction of the museum.  The village Imam, Maksut Abazi, maintains the museum on voluntary basis.

I very much enjoyed my semester teaching at the State University of Tetovo, which now meets in modern facilities as a state university.  And I am looking forward to continued cooperation with colleagues and students at SUT.

Here is a blog post with highlights of my time at the State University of Tetovo:

The website of the State University of Tetovo:

with the Iman who maintains the museum - Maksut Abazi

the building that houses the museum was donated by the villagers of Poroj

the reflection of the minaret in the glass case housing SUT brochures

the Imam of Poroj maintains the museum on a voluntary basis - I appreciated his taking the time to give me a tour

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