Holocaust education in Kosovo

Donika Xhemajli EUROCLIO , ,

History Teacher Association of Kosovo publish handbook on holocaust education    

As a result of the involvement of History Teachers Association of Kosovo, HTAK, in EuroClio’s project “History that Connects ‘’, its members were offered opportunities to take part in many trainings and different study visits in order to develop their professional capacity.

As part of these activities, one of the Association members participated in training at the Yad Vashem – World Memorial Holocaust Center in Israel. This was the beginning of the contact and communication required to start cooperation. The Association did not cease in its efforts to find opportunities for internal support for conducting a study visit at Yad Vashem which would involve a larger number of members. This was because Kosovo teachers needed to improve their professional ability to teach on the Holocaust in their classroom lessons.

The Association gained support from ForumZFD, a German organization that works on Dealing with the Past and Peace Education. This enabled the initiative to become reality. At first, our initiative was to organize a study visit in Israel and it ended with the publication of alternative teaching material about the Holocaust.

A number of local trainings were also organized, which increased the cooperation with other international organizations involved in this subject. They were: the Center for Historical Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Berlin, the Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the final addition to this group was an NGO called New Perspektiva, which works in Kosovo on opening up thinking on the multi-perspective methodology of teaching history with the aim of encouraging open-minded learning.

In 2017 the HTAK and ForumZFD, with the support from Kosovo Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, MESTI, organized a one-week training visit to Yad Vashem.  Afterward, with the support of all the organizations mentioned above, the HTAK members worked on drafting the teaching Handbook on the Holocaust, and in 2021 the Handbook was launched. The Education Minister and the Deputy German Ambassador in Kosovo were present at this event. The Acting Kosovo Ambassador in Israel informed and invited the representatives of Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Yad Vashem, which lead to their participation online. The Handbook is published in three languages, Albanian, Serbian and English, and will be used by history and civic education teachers for classes IX to XII. The Handbook is also published on the official website of the Kosovo Ministry of Education and is accessible for all. The Handbook is in complete harmony with the curricula framework which was approved by MESTI in 2016. 

We believe this Handbook will not only be used by the teachers but it will also have a direct impact on students in Kosovo. They will have the opportunity to learn about the Holocaust from different, original, and verifiable sources. However, the Handbook’s advantage is that it has a multi-perspective approach, which will encourage and develop independent and critical thinking. At the same time, this methodology can be used by the publishing houses in Kosovo as a model to advance school textbooks in the future by using different sources which will have a multi-perspective approach.



First Lesson Modules Peer-Reviewed in Kosovo

In the area of the famous battlefield where Balkan and Osman armies clashed in 1389, 15 dedicated History Educators from all over Kosovo gathered for the 3rd Workshop in the EuroClio/SHMHK Project “History Matters”. EuroClio Founder and Special Advisor Joke van der Leeuw-Roord presented in great detail the EuroClio Manifesto, which was for this occassion translated into Albanian and will soon be available online. Former Director of the Schools History Project, and currently Deputy-President of the Historical Association Chris Culpin dedicated a full day to an inspiring session dealing with source-based learning, but which raised many interesting questions about how to work with propaganda in the class-room. President and Deputy-President of the Association of History Educators in Macedonia, Mr Mire Mladenovski and Mr Besnik Emini joined the meeting and shared their experience and expertise, including the recently launched bilingual online resource “Macedonia in World War One. A Common Approach to the Past”. Also the meeting convened a core group of the History Teachers Association of Kosovo, and steps were made to complete a future multi-annual action plan, and apply for official accreditation. Finally, a critical reflection on use of the past was addressed during an on-site learning visit to both the mausoleum of Sultan Murad I, who died in the aforementioned battle, as well as a monument erected in 1953 called Gazimestan.