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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 December 2006, 14:54 GMT
School Day 24: About Macedonia link-up
Nikola Karev and Zef Lush Marku school, Skopje

Macedonian and Albanian students at two schools in Skopje linked up to discuss their ethnic, historic and religious differences.

Nikola Karev school is attended by Macedonian pupils and Zef Lush Marku school is Albanian. The schools share the same building but hardly mix - Macedonian pupils go to classes in the morning while the Albanians attend lessons in the afternoon. Every two weeks their timetables swap.

Nikola Karev and Zef Lush Marku schools, Skopje

Nikola Karev and Zef Lush Marku are amongst the most popular secondary schools in Macedonia's capital, Skopje. With over 1,000 students each, they are also the biggest.

Front of Nikola Karev and Zef Lush Marku school
The two schools share the same building but little else

The students do not like their school's modern concrete grey building but think its location is great - it is not far from the centre of the town, near the heart of a popular area called Leptocaria where there are plenty of fast-food restaurants, cafes, small retailers and bookshops.

Both schools are very proud of their history.

They were established more than 60 years ago, soon after Macedonian statehood was declared. Many of the country's then would-be teachers, politicians, doctors and engineers were educated here.

But the political turmoil in the Balkans after the collapse of ex-Yugoslavia during the late 1990s, is reflected here.

Macedonia map
The crisis in Kosovo several years ago and later the conflict in Macedonia during 2001, between Macedonian security forces and ethnic Albanian fighters, has left a big gap between the pupils sharing the building.

They barely see each other and their parents constantly fear possible scuffles and worse.

Political wounds have healed and big efforts are being made to bring these young people who have much in common together who currently only share the same classrooms and desks.

They could also know each other as schoolmates from the morning or afternoon shift.




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