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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 December 2006, 08:49 GMT
School Day 24: About Mitrovica link-up
Composite image of Albanian and Serb schools taking part in the school link-up

Students on either side of the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica in Kosovo - a Serbian school in the north and an Albanian one in the south - linked up to discover how different their lives are.

Frang Bardhi High School and Kosovska Mitrovica Gimnazija

The High School in Mitrovica was first established in 1919 as a school for girls. Soon after boys were admitted but they had separate classes.

Albanian students
Mitrovica's Albanian majority live in the bigger southern part of the city

At that time, 90% of the pupils were Serbian or Montenegrin and classes were held exclusively in the Serbian language.

After World War II, classes in the Albanian language were introduced and the number of Albanian students steadily increased over the years until the 1980s when they became the majority of the student body.

Throughout this period the classes in the two languages were separate, but under the same curriculum. Study of both the Serbian and Albanian language was mandatory.

Serbia Kosovo map

Things changed in 1990 when Belgrade changed the constitution of Serbia and reduced the autonomy of Kosovo.

The Albanians reacted by abandoning all state institutions which also meant that their students stopped going to the high school.

Instead the Albanians created a parallel school system with classes being held in private homes.

In the meantime Serbian students continued going to the high school, which is located in the southern part of the city.

After Nato's intervention between March and June 1999 Kosovska Mitrovica became a divided town with the Albanian majority living in the bigger southern part, and the Serbs in the smaller northern part of the city.

Serbian students
The Serbian minority live in the smaller northern part of the city

The original high school building in the south started being used by Albanian students after the Nato intervention.

The high school was renamed Frang Bardhi High School and presently has exactly 2,000 students.

The Serbian teenagers moved to Kosovska Mitrovica Gimnazija (the Technical Secondary School) in the northern part of town. Some 200 pupils attend the Serbian school.




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