In Kosovo, Fjolla transforms the landscape of education
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The education system in Kosovo is ripe for reform. School infrastructure, well-trained teachers and quality learning materials are all lacking, and many students — especially those in minority and low-income groups — struggle to access the education they need to excel and lead productive lives.
That’s why Fjolla Dumoshi decided to create an online learning platform for her exchange program’s capstone project.
One of the first resources of its kind in Kosovo, EdSpot offers high-quality educational and training courses for primary and secondary school students. Its goal is to increase access to education by providing professional tutors and recorded content for free or at a low cost.
What Fjolla didn’t anticipate was that she would be launching the platform during a global pandemic. As schools shut down and the world went online, EdSpot quickly became a crucial link to the education that students could no longer receive in person.
“EdSpot was one of the first platforms to offer free and online education when schools closed in Kosovo due to the pandemic, and it is still one of the few platforms to share educational resources in Kosovo,” Fjolla says. “A rapid technological revolution has made online learning a necessity, and the pandemic has turned this belief to a fact.”
A resident of Pristina, Kosovo’s capital city, Fjolla participated in the Study of the U.S. Institutes program (SUSI-Europe), funded by the U.S. State Department and implemented by FHI 360. SUSI-Europe engages future civic, professional and political leaders in an exchange experience centered on leadership development and volunteerism. Until 2020, undergraduate students would travel to the U.S. for six-week programs on specific topics at partner institutes. Now, in light of COVID-19, the curriculum is hosted online, with students completing three weeks of intensive virtual programming.
The program culminates in a capstone project — a chance for students to create an action plan that they can implement back home to address a social issue they feel passionate about.
In the summer of 2019, Fjolla studied journalism and media at Washington State University, examining the role of the press in the evolution of American society, culture, values and institutions. EdSpot was her capstone project, and she applied for funding through the SUSI-Europe program to bring it to life.
“As a young woman, I was always determined to get the best possible education that I could get, even if that meant to get out of my comfort zone and go beyond the borders of my home country,” she says. “This SUSI experience has been a fundamentally transformative experience for me and has proven to be not only beneficial for me personally, but for my community.”
Launched in early 2020, EdSpot has offered more than 70 courses and continues to publish content and materials. Its video lectures have received over 11,000 views, and hundreds of students have participated in essay competitions, art competitions and other learning initiatives.
The platform and its founder have been featured in local publications, and it was even recognized by Kosovo’s prime minister, Albin Kurti, in a social media post highlighting local responses to COVID-19. Due to this success, Fjolla and her growing team of volunteers have created a partnership with Kosovo’s Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, which promoted EdSpot on its website.
“The EdSpot team hopes to continuously expand the number of resources available on the website and to organize many educational activities for children that go beyond the school curriculum,” Fjolla says. “The fundamental objectives of EdSpot remain the same: to increase access to free and online education for Kosovar students, to expand their learning opportunities and to help them have better results in school. We hope to be able to do this for as many young students as possible.”
Since 2016, the SUSI program has had more than 340 participants from 34 European countries. Students like Fjolla have become part of a global network of inspiring young leaders who have been emboldened to spark positive change in their local communities.
“SUSI allowed me to see myself and the world in new lenses. It was a multidimensional learning experience that opened me up towards new perspectives and opportunities that exist around us.”
Photo credit: Fjolla Dumoshi/FHI 360