Faton Tahiri is a thirty year-old father of three children. He keeps his family from what he earns from his stall at the market in Fushë Kosovë, the municipality where he’s lived all his life. He never went to school and he could see how it was holding him back. ‘I went to the municipal offices and they told me to go to a certain department and that I’d see the name written on the door… but I couldn’t read it. I was completely lost,’ he says.
‘Then my friend told me that there were literacy classes for adults like me at The Ideas Partnership’s centre in Fushë Kosovë but I wasn’t sure whether I could attend. Our family’s situation is fragile - what I earn, we eat that day, and I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to come regularly, with my work commitments. But Teacher Avdil Maloku at the centre has helped me with everything. If it’s a day when I have to travel to get stock to sell in the market and I have to miss a class he understands and he helps me make up what I would have covered that day. I’ve been attending three times a week for a year now and I know all the letters; I can do printing and joined up handwriting, and I can read, though I still have to do it slowly to get the meaning.’
So now that he can read and write, what’s next? 'Well I want my kids to have the education I missed out on when I was a child,’ says Faton. 'I want them to have the satisfaction I have now from learning.’ The two of Faton’s children who are old enough attend the kindergarten which the Changemakers group of Ideas Partnership activists started in Fushë Kosovë in November.
‘I help my children repeat the letters they’re learning at kindergarten. But I’ve noticed it’s not just letters that they learn - they’re picking up a whole culture, with beautiful manners. I think they already know the value of learning.'
And how does he think his learning has been useful to him? Faton’s face lights up. ‘This week I got a letter about vaccinations for the children and I read it out perfectly to my wife. Oh, and I went back to the municipal offices and I could find my way around with no problem!'