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The Learning Environment & Atmosphere in Macedonia

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Joined: 16 Jan 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 12:55 am    Post subject: The Learning Environment & Atmosphere in Macedonia Reply with quote

Macedonia has a very high unemployment rate, and is also suffering a significant brain drain as young Macedonians move away to somewhere ith greater job opportunities.

English is taught throughout the public school years, but in public schools, from what I understand, English is still taught by Macedonians who teach English as a foreign language. From online posts I've seen, at least some English major Macedonia college grads have less than an excellent grasp of the language.

This information dates from 2002

Education In Macedonia

Immediately after the Second World War, Macedonia had only 180 people with university degrees. Most of those who had attended school had completed only four grades of elementary education. Those who had completed secondary education were considered learned. There were only 22 elementary schools.

Today the situation has radically changed. Special attention is paid to education in all its aspects.

The educational system in the Republic of Macedonia is made of primary, secondary, high and higher education.

The primary eight-year education is conducted in 344 schools with 253,997 students.

Classes in Macedonian are conducted in 331 schools with 170,429 students, in Albanian in 128 schools with 76,644 students, in Turkish in 36 schools with 6,287 students, in Serbian in 12 schools with 637 students.

In the school year 1999/2000 the secondary education was conducted in 92 public high schools, 4 of which are for students with disabilities and in 3 private schools.

The secondary education in the Republic of Macedonia is conducted via curricula and programs for:
- classical high school education
- vocational education
- art high school education
- high school education for students with disabilities

The public vocational high school can be a three-year and four-year one, and a specialist education. Also, in high school education there is a two-year training.

In the public high schools in the school year 1999/2000 there were 91,083 students and 341 students in the schools for disabled students.

The classes in the high schools are conducted in:
- Macedonian in 92 schools with 76,132 students
- Albanian in 22 students with 14,353 students
- Turkish in 4 schools with 598 students

The high and higher education in the Republic of Macedonia is conducted at two universities - "St. Cyril and Methodius" University in Skopje and "St. Clement of Ohrid" in Bitola. The two universities cover 27 colleges, 1 interdisciplinary study and 2-two year colleges. Besides this, there is the Pedagogical Faculty for Training of Teachers in Macedonian and the languages of the ethnic minorities.

Almost half of the students who complete their secondary education enroll into one of the Macedonian universities. In the Fall of 1991 there were about 9,000 freshmen enrolled at Sts. Cyril and Methodius University and St. Clement of Ohrid University.

The classes are taught by 1,358 teachers and 1,269 cooperators.

From 1948 up to now, more than 110,000 students have gained qualifications from the faculties and colleges in Macedonia. Nearly 1,000 doctoral theses have been defended at the Sts. Cyril and Methodius University since 1957, and the number of master's degrees granted in the same period has been almost 2,000.

Some citizens of Macedonia have had the opportunity of studying or specializing abroad.

Out of the total number of students that amounts 34,850, 31,095 (89.2%) are Macedonian, 1,916 (5.6%) Albanians, 371 (1.1%) Turks, 329 (0.9%) Vlachs, 48 (0.1%) Romas, and 1,091 (3.1%) others.

The Article 48 of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia regulates the education of ethnic minorities. "The representatives of the ethnic minorities have the right to education in their languages in the primary and secondary education in a way determined by law. In the schools where the education is in the language of the ethnic minority, the Macedonian language is also taught."

Teaching at all levels of education is constantly being developed and modernized. The advantages of audio-visual methods are increasingly used. Technical and technological innovations are becoming an inseparable part of instruction. The use of television sets, video recorders and computers in the educational process is no longer a rarity.

Education in Macedonia has undergone several reforms. Currently it is in the process of a radical reform which will unburden it of ideological connotations and will make it simpler and more compatible with education in Europe and the world. The first private schools are already functioning.

Education is free and its costs are covered by the state. The state also makes grants which subsidize the cost of meals and accommodation for both high-school and college students.

There is a well-developed system of education for adults where they may complete their education and acquire special qualifications. Various institutions also organize a large number of courses, ranging from information science and computer operation to the study of foreign languages. Special educational courses have also been organized in the fields of management and business.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 5:25 am    Post subject: Conditions for Teachers in Macedonia Reply with quote

Information here is somewhat dated -August of 1998- so take much of it with a grain of salt and make your own inquiries. - Cricket

It was submitted to the ELT 2Cent Cafe by Tracey Anderson who was working for Soros at the time. She is no longer with them. The url to the full article is below.

At that time, she answered this question:
How much money can I make if I teach English in Macedonia? - Note that this information is from 1998.

Tracy replied -
If you work for a language company the rate is about $10 to $15 USD per hour.

Soros hires teachers also but, because they are a non-profit foundation, the pay is less (though they do provide housing, which most language companies will not).

You can make a decent salary if you work in a private school (some start at about $20,000 USD).

It is also fairly easy to supplement your income through private lessons on your own time if you wish. {Cricket: there are still no laws prohibiting teaching privately}

Tracy was asked,
Will I be able to save any money there?
She answered:
Rent is fairly cheap in Macedonia (around $200 to $300 dollars/month). Other things, however, can be fairly expensive (fresh produce, meat, personal products). Transportation (bus or taxi) is quite cheap. If you do not live extravagantly, you can save a good portion of your salary.

Next FAQ -
What are the employment opportunities, job requirements, etc. for people who want to teach English in Macedonia?

Tracy replied,
Macedonia is a mecca for language companies and more and more are opening all the time. Private schools are more rare, but a few are slowly starting to open up, particularly in the capital (Skopje).

Many language companies will hire you simply because you are a native speaker. Others (and private schools) want a degree of some kind, though not necessarily a teaching degree or an English degree.

You do not need to speak Macedonian, Albania, Roma, Turkish or the other languages spoken by the varied ethnic groups. There is no Greek spoken in Macedonia, even though Greece has a northern province named Macedonia. If you are Googling, be sure you are reading about the correct country. - Cricket

next FAQ -
What is the school calendar?
Tracy says ---
Classes begin in late August and run until late June, for a total of 180 teaching days. There are three weeks off for Christmas and one week off at Easter. Both American and Macedonian holidays are celebrated. {I read "September" elsewhere, but that may have been JUST for that particular school. Verify far in advance so your application will be in on time.}

The BIG question -
What are students like?
She replied,
In language companies, there will be students off all ages, but most will be adults and many will be business people. In private schools, many of the students will be the children of foreign businessmen and diplomats. Many (though not all) are excellent, well behaved students.

From grade one to grade eight, Macedonian children MUST attend Macedonian schools so you will likely not be working with them.

Macedonian high school students (grades 9 to 12) are allowed to attend private schools. Many of them are somewhat on the lazy and inattentive side. Cheating seems to be the norm so they will need to be taught the Western standards as far as that is concerned. {this is, of course, was Tracy's personal statement, but it seems generally verifiable according to what I have learned about the populace from other sources - Cricket}

Next FAQ -
What about curriculum?
Tracy said,
All schools and companies will have their own curriculum for you to use, but how well developed it will be depends on the school/company and its resources. You may find yourself doing a great deal of curriculum development on your own as well as making up your own assignments, visuals, props etc. Most private schools will have a Western curriculum with Western books etc. This may not be true of locally run schools.

How do I get to Macedonia?

Unless you work for a private school, you will probably have to pay your own airfare, in whole or in part. You may find you need two or three different connecting flights to land in Skopje. As well, you cannot fly in through or from Greece. (As a result of the dispute between the two countries over the name, there are no flights to or from Macedonia allowed in Greek airspace.) Sofia, Bulgaria is a good place to connect and then take the bus (a half day ride) from there. {Rail travel, I understand, is also available.}

{Cricket - There are lots of flights with smaller carriers into Skopje, Macedonia, but you should check about size and weight limits on luggage, and, if they exceed the maximum, find out if you be allowed to take them on the same flight for an extra fee - and how much that fee may be. You may be surprised to find that you might have to fly to a very indirect route, so if you have the time, and money for an overnight, enjoy a stop-over or two in Europe.}

{Take the time to check a lot of sites and airlines for connections as you can end up saving a bundle.}

Next FAQ -
What about getting a visa?

As far as I know, this all still stands (Cricket) -
When you arrive, you will need to get a 3 month tourist visa, free of charge at the border. Afterwards, depending on many factors, you will either get a work visa (which your employer should pay for, at least partially) or you may have to go to the nearest border, cross over and cross back to get another tourist visa every three months. Don't let it lapse. In most places, there will be little problem getting a work permit.

Housing? Insurance?
Would I get housing/insurance through the school?

Answer -
Many private schools will supply or at least help pay for housing. Most language companies will not. Most apartments are furnished, which generally means just the basics, though some places are very well stocked, you just have to find them.

Be careful that you are very clear about your privacy if renting from a private individual rather than a leasing company. Be sure that you can change the locks so that they do not have a key.

Insurance plans are rare. Skopje has a medical school and I believe there is now another one open for Albanian speaking students.

What about weather/food/recreation?

Summer is very warm. Humidity is low because Macedonia is landlocked and mountainous. Winter is grey and misty. It can be cool but it is not generally bitterly cold (minus 10 Celcius) and there is a moderate amount of snow.

Food is very much like Greek food and there are many preserves made in the fall to eat through the winter. Produce in winter is limited but plentiful in summer. You can buy many groceries to cook your own Western style meals. There are some imported American or Greek products available, but they are costly.

{I remember a member here teaching in Kosovo who was thrilled to discover that peanut butter is now available. I have read that McDonald's has arrived, of course - but I haven't heard of a Wal-Mart yet! - Cricket}

Outdoor pursuits are the main recreation: hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter. There is a major resort recreational lake.

There are café/bars all over in the summer and plenty of dessert places too. There are also movies available in English but they are about 6 months behind what is on in theaters in North America and have Macedonian subtitles.

What should I bring with me?

Some suggestions:
Things to entertain yourself

A laptop computer.

Any prescription drugs you need for the course of the year

Any over the counter pain relievers/cold medicine etc. you might use (little or nothing is available here)

What about communication with the outside world?
Post is slow and expensive, especially overseas. They will not send anything airmail that weighs more than 20 grams. You will have to send it registered, which is costly. It take can 2 or 3 weeks for your post to arrive from or get to home (if at all - theft can be rampant).

Parcels take a minimum of 3 months or so. Sometimes, you will have to pay when you pick up a parcel, even though postage was paid in the country of origin.

Telephone is cheap locally but quite expensive long distance. It is relatively easy to get a good connection though. Cell phone usage is high and coverage is good.

Internet (and therefore e-mail) is available, but may be very slow, sometimes difficult to get a connection, and then the connection easily broken. {hopefully things have improved some - in my experience, phone line crackle & distance from the switching stations are the most important factors in poor or lost connections - Cricket}

English newspapers are available only in the centers of the large cities and only some of the time. English TV is limited and the news you do get is very Europe-centered, so there is very little about North American news. I am not certain how much satellite TV has made inroads, but hopefull it, too, has increased in the past 7 years}

Any other suggestions?

And Tracy recommends,
If you can, get in touch with somebody who has worked or is working at the school or company you are interested in and ask them some questions. {Private schools often list their faculty by name} Then take everything with a grain if salt.

for the entire FAQs list

Theresa Courage
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