Bilingual kindergarten project in Macedonia is a lasting success

27/12/2012

Parents said that the children from Mosaic are a good example for society.

By Miki Trajkovski for Southeast European Times in Struga -- 27/12/12

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Children in Mosaic kindergarten learn each other's language. [Miki Trajkovski/SETimes]

Around 30 Albanian and Macedonian children, ages 3 to 6, attend Sun Kindergarten, which is part of a bilingual project called Mosaic in the city of Struga.

Mosaic started in Macedonia in 1998 as the only one of its kind in the country. Organisers envisioned children interacting with their peers from another ethnic group, learning co-existence and tolerance at an early age.

Through songs, games, plays and other fun activities, teachers Venera Jonoska and Emush Floreshe teach young Macedonians and Albanians to live together, not just side by side.

They learn each other's language, religion, culture, tradition and customs, said Jonoska, an ethnic Macedonian fluent in Albanian.

"For the Bajram holiday, the Macedonians visit the Albanians; for Christmas, the Albanian kids visit the Macedonians. That's normal for these children. We have proof that we can work with both languages successfully."

After three years in the kindergarten, Albanian children continue their schooling in all-Albanian schools and Macedonians in all-Macedonian schools. From there, the division in Macedonian society begins.

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Mosaic has been successfully working for 13 years. Recently, the teachers visited the first-generation students from the project, now in high school.

"It was great honour and pride to see those children still being friends, [despite] ethnic inconveniences that exist in Struga," Jonoska said.

Zual Redzeposka, director of Sun Kindergarten agrees.

"These children are introduced to the other language spontaneously. When the children don't know the other language at all, with mimics they try to understand each other, and after usually become best of friends."

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