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FEATURE STORY

In Gurgurnica: New Schools for a Better Learning Environment

October 19, 2016


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Children in a small Macedonian village of Gurgurnica will soon be studying in a brand new and fully functional elementary school that will be built with the European Union and World Bank funds.

Have you ever heard of Gurgurnica in Macedonia? It is a village in the Brvenica municipality that is not readily accessible. To get there, one has to drive some 30 kilometers from Brvenica, up a narrow, mountain road. Once there, you are greeted with a view from the Tetovo and Polog region from above.

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The first thing that will catch your eye is the beautiful view of the Kozjak Lake - breathless and inspiring. The clean mountain air will fill your lungs as you spy the many new houses dotting the hills. The village has around 2,000 residents - mainly from Albanian ethnic backgrounds - and 350 households, each with 3 to 5 children.

The “Hasan Tahsini” primary school is located on the other side of the village and it is where most local children from the village get their elementary education. The school was constructed in 1962 with contributions from local inhabitants and reconstructed in 1994 by “Solidaritet,” a French Non-Governmental Organization.


" Building a new school is our biggest priority. It will give optimism to the people living here.  "

Enver Pajaziti

Mayor of Brvenica

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Old school in Gurgurnica


Today, the school is nearly in ruins: broken windows, peeling paint, missing doors, a leaking roof, no insulation, and no indoor plumbing. Hardly a place suitable for educating children.  

And yet, young students fill the building - learning their first lessons.

“The number of students has not decreased over time. We have 240 children, and this is a large number for a mountain village. Despite emigration, families remain here even when the head of the family is abroad,” says Enver Pajaziti, Mayor of Brvenica.

“Thus, building a new school is our biggest priority. It will give optimism to the people living here. “

Mr. Afrim Emerllau, the school’s Principal, noted that children come to school every day in two shifts, regardless of the fact that the building is old and has not been renovated for decades.

Gurgurnica is difficult to access - especially in winter. Most of its teachers come from neighboring towns and villages, meaning that during winter they have to sleep in the school’s dormitory, which is also in bad shape.

This, however, is about to change.

With European Union funds accessed through from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance to support a Rural Investment Window, along with funds from the World Bank Municipal Services Improvement Project, students in Gurgurnica will soon be studying in a brand new school. This planned facility will be a fully functional elementary school, with children from grades 1-9 and pre-schoolers. The school will also be as energy efficient as possible. The new facility will be constructed near the existing school, which will be demolished once the new school is completed.

Once implemented, the project will provide better conditions for learning - increasing the quality of education for the town’s future generations. The students will learn in new, warmer classrooms, while their teachers will also have a warm place to stay on those cold winter nights when the snow does not allow them to return – meaning healthier and happier students to learn and healthier, happier teachers to teach them.


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