During 1944-1970 period
Dr. Valbona Nathanaili
This article aims to explore the history of Albanian education reforms and legislation during 1944-1970 period. It discusses how communist regime, through a number of different reforms and laws, created a new education system to serve its purposes. The article deal with the history and various political factors involved in the development of education system as well as try to examine the influence of propaganda on the philosophy of education; focuses, in general, how political system affected the way the system was developed and sketches the early reforms undertaken in pre-university education system during 1944-1970 period. In particular, the study explicit two important developments undertaken by Albanian government: the massive education and the politicization of education, as well as it lists their implications on shaping the educational system. These developments are placed in and judged from the political contexts. This article in based on literature reviews, analysis of documents and my own experience as student and later as teacher of that school system. It is important to emphasize that most of the characteristics of the educational system are almost identical for the entire East Europe under the communist regime.
Keywords: education, reform, policy, communism, history, philosophy, identity.
- “Formal schooling by and large is organized and controlled by the government. This means that by its very nature the entire schooling process – how it is paid for, what goals it seeks to attain and how these goals will be measured, who has power over it, what textbooks are approved … – is by definition political.
(Apple, 2003: 1)
The argument here is that, it is not possible to understand what is happening in our educational institutional without developing an understanding of policy that reflect both, its multi-stage and multi-tier character. (Bell & Stivenson, 2003: 9) Bell & Stevenson (2003:62) argue that “During time of turbulence or uncertainty … the ideological function of education can become more important”. The communist system developed a theory of social change that stood in stark contrast to capitalist theory. Ritzer (2008) argues “The communist theory focused on the role of masses and based on ideology, the latter as a set of ruling ideas that attempts to introduce contradictions between classes: both they lead to the creation of subsystem of philosophy that makes the contradiction to be coherent.” The Marxism was part of the curriculum and the communist party youth organization was part of the school activities (Roberts, 2009: 48). For Cristescu (2012) “The school in the communist era is a method of influence and manipulation of the pupils”. For Roberts (Ibid: 46) “The initial drive everywhere the communist gained power was to make full elementary education universal and by the 1960s this has been achieved”.
It is important to emphasize that most of the characteristics of the Albanian educational system are, almost identical,for the entire countries of East Europe during the communist regime, like in Romania and Poland. Cristescu (2012) raise the same arguments for Educational System in Romania: the education became the exclusive activity of state; the politicization of education and its ideological dimension, reflected in demagogic formulas, as well as in the teaching process; the replace of all the textbooks published before 1947 with new ones and new curricula, designed by the Soviet model. In the Poland are the same issues, too. Wojdon (2014) analyses the process of production and regulation of school textbooks in Poland under communist rule, the role of censorship office decided about the appropriate content and the influence of Soviet communists in whole education system, too.
2 ALBANIA AND THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM, 1944-1970
Year 1944 is very important to Albanian history because it marks the transition from an almost feudal society to a quasi communist one. The main characteristic of this transition is the constrain to change the form of distribution of goods and comodities, associated with the request to identify its legitimacy. The education system is part of this transformation, starting with the pre-university one. The communist system highlights the importance of education because it considered it a mean of spreading its ideology (ORT/USAID, 1999:46).
The Educational Reform of 1946 year starts with the change of all schools to schools state, according to two principal currents: becoming massive and revolutionary (Instituti i Studimeve Pedagogjike & Universiteti Shtetëror i Tiranës, 1972: 161). In 1946, the regime set up the Commission of Education Reform. In the same year, the Popular Assembly of Republic of Albania decrees “Compulsory Education” and “About Education reforms” laws.
The biggest reforms undertaken during the period from 1944 to 1970 are those of late 1940s and early 1960s. These reforms were quite similar to each-other in respect of their fundamental structure: they were both politically orientated as a result of an up-down projection and focused on content; both aimed to change the core of Albanian education system.
This period is characterized of two important developments: (i) firstly, the massive education and (ii) secondly, the politicization of education.
First major development: THE MASSIVE EDUCATION
The first major development was the massive education which consisted on a specific collection of reform policies and actions. This process started with the elimination of illiteracy and very soon, it became one of the most important topics of that time. Two important events for this development are the meeting of Antifascist Teachers Congress of Albania in November 1944 and the “Education Reform Law” of 1946, which both made the struggle against illiteracy, the prime objective of the new education system.
The country is in a very difficult education situation: about 80% of population were analphabet, the number of schools was very limited and mostly damaged and concentrated in urban centers, as well as the minimum number of qualified teacher. But the enthusiasm of making reality a new Albanian state – a very old dream, and the hope for a better life, make that all the people were inspired with idealism and were engaged to solve the analphabetism issue. In a very short time all the existing school were repaired and, where was possible, the change of residential homes to schools; former partisans left the gun to get pens, moving from a noble mission as it was the liberation of the country to another even more, like be a teacher for younger generation, in a different kind of school, with another kind of methodology, with other objectives.
The struggle against the illiteracy expanded and touched not only the children, but the older people, too. From north to south, under the supervision of educational office were established courses for illiterate people. On period 1946-1949 the government promulgated a set of laws that serve as a legislation framework, requiring all citizens between of twelve and forty who could not read, to attend classes in reading and writing. This legislation includes (Bufi & Lamani, 2010:6):
- Law no. 281 dt. 08.17.1946 “On compulsory primary education”, Official Gazette No. 85, Tuesday, September 10, 1946 and Decree–Law no. 730 dt.05.09.1949 “On some additions and amendments to Law no. 281 dt. 17.08.1946 ‘On compulsory primary education’”, Official Gazette No. 71, September 22,1949 which raised the minimum age for leaving school;
- Decision no. 421, dt. 10.09.1949 “On the provision of housing and fire for teachers working in villages for free”, Official Gazette no. 72, September 23, 1949;
- Decree–Law no. 732 dt. 21.09.1949 “Over the obligation of citizens to learn literacy”,Official Gazette no. 77, October 7, 1949 p. 2-3, 6 sections.
On general view, these attempts conclude as the following: free schooling; compulsory education; system of scholarships for children from different background, especially for those which, according to the propaganda of the time, coming from “masses”, then living and working in rural and suburb areas; equal education and access to education for all, through opening of schools in every corner of country; at secondary low was introduced subject of “punë me dru dhe me metal”, house economy, agricultural work and useful social work; at secondary upper level was introduced subject of polytechnic education like military education and technical draw.
Second major development: THE POLITICIZATION OF EDUCATION
The second major development is about the process of politicization of education, with the aim of advocating only the views of the political party in power (Kaltsounis, 2010:57). The old question“What knowledge is of most worthy” reformulated by Apple (2003:7) into “Whose knowledge is of most worthy” or, shortly, what knowledge will be legitimate or“official” is very appropriate here: “The education must not be a weapon at the hand of bourgeois, but a weapon to the hands of laborers and peasants”. (Osmani, 1983:588)
The “new schools” addressed the needs of political system. The changes include the following:
- The school-content is political and ideological (new courses were introduced, where teaching the theory and practice of Marxism – Leninism was the aim. For example, was introduced the subject “Marxism-Leninism” for students of 12 grade).
- New textbooks. Starting from the early 1945, was clear that schools can adapt the use of old textbooks, but under the condition that those parts that do not agree with the spirit of the communist movement must be left behind. However this situation changed drastically very soon, with the introduction of new textbook, with Marxist-Leninist content, the basic doctrine of state policy. The doctrine was the main source of reference, too. Every textbook have to introduce the connection of school to life, but often realized in a very artificial way in the forms of some lines or an entire paragraph at the end of the topic; the textbook content have to be in function of social and economic development and the country protection from the influences coming from abroad.
- New human capital management policies. The situation became more difficult after the intervention of the secretary of Labour Party as part of school staff,usually with a double role: secretary of the school base organization party and vice director. The secretary of Labour Party orchestrates most of the interactions and evaluation processes in school around different issues,focused on the way how Marxism-Leninism principles were applied; he/she was involved to the most important decision making at school level.
- The role of youth and pioneer organizations was grow up; the students that non-participate in these organization – usually, members of “undesirable families” for the regime, were object of continuous stigma.
- The opening of private school was forbidden, that means no alternative form of schooling
- The other central idea regarding the schooling can be summarized through the famous slogan “Learning, working and living as revolutionaries” and, in this framework, the triangle “Lesson, work and physical-military education”.
- Selection of school leader. The election was made on the basis of strict certain criteria, including (but not limited to): correctness and fairness, long experience and excellent teaching skills, good relations with the teaching staff and good knowledge in the field of pedagogy, communication and organizational skills as well as “good biography”. However, the communist party secretary enjoyed vast competences regarding the implementation of the communist ideology line in school by recruiting new and more promising teachers to be, later, part of the school leadership.
To the end of ‘950, the school has almost totally socialist form and content too.
Apple (2003:6) points to the ability of dominant groups to shape which political agendas are made public and are to be discussed as “possible”. All (a big all) that was distinctive about education under communism, what made it different from every education system in the west, and manifestly communist, was the ideology. (Roberts, Ibid: 44) Educational reforms were mostly inspired by the speech of first secretary of Communist (later, Labour) Party of Albania, E. Hoxha, hold in congresses, plenums or meetings with common people. Reference terms of reforms must were in accordance with the ideas introduced in these speeches, which was based on demagogues features. “The basic ideas about school reform, inspired by the close connection between school and life, as well as learning and production,were reflected in the theses of the Central Committee of the Party of Labour of Albania and Counseling Ministers of the People’s Republic of Albania. They underwent an extensive discussion of the popular masses and were approved by the Plenum of the Central Committee of the XIX Party of Labour of Albania(1960), and take decisions forms at the IV Congress of the Albanian Party of Labor (1961).” (Osmani, Ibid: 603)
At early ’960 the single most important aim of school, according to the decree of Council of Ministers, no. 271, July 6, 1963 “About the approval of the regulatory system of general education schools”, the Council of Ministers, according to Article no. 33 of law no. 3698 dt. June 11, 1963 “On reorganization of the Education System in the People’s Republic of Albania” was that of:
- “Comprehensive education of young generation and its ability to be active part in construction of socialist society, through acquisition of ‘healthy’ scientific knowledge, Marxist-Leninist mentality and proletariat internationalism”. (Osmani, Ibid:602)
The system continuously invested in these kind of knowledge and skills in order to achieve its end.
1960s – 1970s are characterized by strong ideological and political movements, which include the education sector, too.In schools is implemented the worker and peasant control, as a powerful political and ideological tool, to strengthen the leading role of the working class in the whole system of our socialist society, to advance the process of further revolutionizing of the entire life of our country as well as to stop the coming of revisionism and the restoration of capitalism. (Osmani, Ibid:337)
Law “On the reorganization of the education system in the Republic of Albania”, enacted by Parliament in 1963,pointed:
- Strengthening of the ideological content, seen of change in content and method;
- Developing of a pedagogical thought, based on the principles of Marxism-Leninism
- The extreme ideologization and politicization of school and pedagogical thought.
- The connection of school to production, result of applying with consistency the Marxist-Leninist principle of connection of school to the practice of socialist construction of country, was seen as a set of mandatory activities that stressed the social aspect over the use of them to improve student achievement.
These tasks were associated with significant changes in programs and textbooks. Referring the law no. 1624, dt. December 24, 1969 “About new education system”,Article no. 1: “Our educational system is based on democratic socialist principles,entirely permeated by ideological Marxist-Leninist and developed on the basis of an organic connection of learning to productive work and military physical education”. (Osmani, Ibid: 622) and “The priority of schooling, in all its cycles, was placed according to Marxism – Leninism principles of communist education”. In this way, the school emphasizes its political and ideological character, damaging, of course, scientific and professional preparation of new generation. (Gjeçovi et al, 2009:289) So, the changes in philosophy were deeply connected to the fundamental changes in the way knowledge was constructed and the school was organized.
With simple words, can summarize:
- Centralized leadership and state-planned curricula, in accordance with the duties of socialist and economic development of the country.
- The same schools as for the city and as for the countryside regarding for the structure; the content was lead by the principle of the “uniqueness and continuity”
The word that is most in use in the time documentations is “massive education”, in the context of the rights and opportunities for all to educate, to active participation on solving education issues (through debates, conferences, consultations) and to a closer connection of school to life (was seen in a very pragmatic aspect, mostly through “aksioneve”, productive laborer and military training). We have to highlight that one of the very success of these reforms was exactly the expansion of schools network to every corner of the country, making possible not only the elimination of illiteracy, but changing school in one of the strongest possibility to make in life. So far, very good. But for Roberts (Ibid: 49), the governments that come after communist regime have been unable to maintain the comprehensive welfare systems that they inherited from communism. A Romanian expert comments that (cited, in Glenn, 1995: 313) “the passage from communist education to the liberal education … is providing more difficult than had been supposed… Sometimes the combined weight of bureaucrat-ism and centralism and the sluggishmess of top-down reforming impulses. The same is true, too, for Albania. After all this years, the educational system in Albania is constantly under reformations. The need to know and analyses our history of education must be part of our effort of improving our education system.
Another words that take very much room is “the democratization”, but for Neundorf (2010: 1097): “We could postulate, for example, that “democratic principles” learned … under a socialist regime might not match how democracy actually works today. After the ‘90s, it should be noted how much efforts has been made to change schools. Although the importance of education it is to all indisputable, the philosophy of education,together with the priorities to be set and the standards to be used, have risen and continue to rise debates.
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