First 2 months with new elementary education concept in North Macedonia – are there results and what has to be changed?


Exactly two months have passed since the education authorities of North Macedonia have implemented the new Concept for the elementary education, which was heralded as the basis for the education reforms. The novelties planned in the document should improve the situation and follow the contemporary tendencies in education. After the system had underwent many changes in the past, with the Cambridge programs through the external testing and the other novelties, this is an effort to correct the mistakes and to implement real reforms that would raise the quality of the education process.

How is the implementation of the new rules going on? What are the pupils’ reactions and are they adjusting to the changes? We talked about these issues with the teachers/practitioners, but also with Kiril Barbareev, PhD, who worked on the Concept. Meanwhile, the Bureau for Development of Education is scanning the situation and is analyzing the implementation in the schools. It announced a report that will be published soon.


The teachers feel more relaxed

Zorica Adamchevska has 16 years of experience as a teacher. She works at the Petre Pop Arsov elementary school in Bogomila, in the Chashka municipality. This school year she is working with first graders and the reforms of the education process this school year started in the first and the fourth grade. Adamchevska said that this school year she is experiencing greater freedom doing her job of a teacher.

“This doesn’t mean that until now we were limited in using our creativity, but I think that the time limitation is creating tension both in the teacher and the students. Since the new concept is giving the opportunity for intertwinning of the activities, most often the students almost don’t even notice the pass from one class to another, especially when there is a possibility of an intersubject integration. The integration is determined by the teachers and that takes a lot of time in planning and preparation, but at the same, it gives us a possibility to determine ourselves how we are going to accomplish the plans and meet the set goal from the school program,” Adamchevska said.

The novelty for this school year is that the teachers are implementing standards for evaluation, not content. This means they have the freedom to use any kind of resource that they consider will provide a better result in the learning process.

The success depends on whether the teachers were trained for the implementation of the desired changes, says one of the creators of the new concept, Kiril Barbareev, PhD. He adds that the focus of every reform should be the interests and the needs of the students.

“The teachers, the schools and other educational institutions should serve to promote and protect the best interest of the child and help accomplish the right for qualitaty education in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Starting from this, the Concept is calling for a reform that is oriented toward the students and is requesting that the education process be organized in such a way that it will demonstrate to the students the benefit and the relevance of studying, it will meet their needs and interests and it will allow the development of the potential of each student. The bottom line is that it will help the students to feel comfortable and safe at school and will be more motivated to study,” said Barbareev.

“These standards proscribe the knowledge, the skills and the stances that the students will take with themselves when they finish elementary education. These are grouped into 8 areas: language literacy, use of other languages, mathematics, natural sciences and technology, digital literacy, personal and social development, democratic culture and citizenship, entrepreneurship, and artistic expression and culture. These have the competencies for lifelong learning installed in them that are contained in the Recommendation of the European Union’s Council dating from 2018 that were adjusted in accordance with the age of the students,” said Barbareev.

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