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Written by Prof. Pirro PRIFTI 7 Tetor 2022
Despite the fact that someone can describe it as a ``politically motivated'' protest, the government's commitment rather to appease the growing concerns of lecturers than to qualitatively increase the low salaries of higher education lecturers, - the Union of Universities acted towards in the organization of the protest and in the realization of a package for the improvement not only of salaries and dignity as university lecturers, but also of other aspects that have caused many problems in public universities and even in private ones. In fact, it is not the salary that would comfort the lecturers of Public Higher Education, maybe even private ones, but the problems that have accumulated in the Higher Education System go beyond Salaries and beyond the Package proposed by the Higher Education Unions. In short, lecturers need a salary and a dignity which can be partially translated into a dignified salary, but the rest also requires special reforms only for Higher Education. Salaries cannot be increased by 15% or after teachers threaten to boycott classes. The Government and Governments, whether they are predecessors or successors, have not put water on fire for the salaries of higher education lecturers, whether public or partially private. Always when you see the retrospective of the events in Albania, both during the Dictatorship and after the 90's, governments have always had as their objective the keeping of the intellectual class under the ``capture''. And this has been noticed since Enver Hoxha's regime, where the middle class of the intelligentsia was kept under control, even a good part of them (some intentionally, and some were included in the collaborators of the regime against their will, we have many cases that such people today in the days of democracy are in the direction of the country, whether in the legislative power, the executive power and the local power). It is interesting that Ramiz Alia preferred to create pluralism with the intellectuals of the rural areas who had few positions in the Party and in the executive power during the dictatorship, but the intellectual middle class of citizens, those he sent to the villagers under the pretext of transfers ``for brought culture, education to the village', neglected them. With the Sadducees, there was no trust in them. The result of the rustic and not at all professional management of the authorities after the 90s was: - Prolonged transition, and the fatal breakdown of the entire industry and agriculture as well as the state administration - Brain drain (`brain drain') and part of the young population - The instability of the Albanian state as a result of the first two - The destruction of meritocracy and technocracy , of the chain of professional formation, and the placement of militants and friends in the direction of the three powers from the two main parties. These factors certainly influenced and weakened Higher Education, which at the time of the dictatorship was surprisingly of better quality than today, but of course, the pedagogues and teachers of that time worked under the compulsion of the dictatorship. The quality damage of Higher Education began immediately after the 90s, with the departure of talented teachers and students, and continued with unsubstantiated and often clientelistic legal changes. What crushed quality Higher Education was the opening of many Private Universities, although it was well known that a University for the state should have one University per 1 million inhabitants, a criterion that has been applied in the Western and Eastern worlds, at least for public universities. What happened here in Albania? The problems of Higher Education continued with the Laws on Higher Education, which after the 90s were amended several times and each time they were amended, they created problems in the activity of the Academic Staff, in the Salary problem, in the problem of Scientific research, even and in the problem of elections in Universities, as well as in the chain - ``who commands'' and ``who can take revenge and against whom''. 11 public universities were opened, some with subsidiaries, after the 1993 Public Higher Education Law. After 2006, dozens of private universities were opened, which led to a decline in the quality of teaching, an increase in bribery in both types of universities, and corruption in the Ministry of Education, which was already run by politicians and not professionals. Despite the closure of several private universities after 2013, the quality of teaching and scientific direction continued to decline, the autonomy of public universities remained formal to this day. The awarding of scientific titles was clientelistic, and all this coupled with the low and ridiculous salaries of Higher Education Lecturers, showed how low Higher Education had fallen. However, the opening of private Universities encouraged the provision of very good payments in the private sector, which made governments reflect, but this did not last long. Apart from some small increases according to indexation and inflation, there was never a qualitative increase in wages. Only after 2015, with the new law on Higher Education, an attempt was made to eliminate some identified deficiencies, but the departure of quality lecturers and young ones with perspective, led to the provision of new lecturers in Higher Education, perhaps not with a good average, without either academic or professional experience. In private universities, they began to level salaries with those of public universities, even in one of the private universities such as UET, the salaries of lecturers are low, especially those of pensioners under the pretext that ``they receive a pension'', reducing your dignity completely. constellation of professors. However, the New Higher Education Law of 2015, propagandized as a reform law for Albanian Higher Education that came close to the laws of western countries or similar to the English one, there were some big blunders that are still weighing on teachers in salaries, in scientific research, in laboratories, and in dignity . Also, this law had these other shortcomings: - It did not plan the cost of this law, so it did not mention how much the cost of the reform would be and how much the GDP of Albanian Education in general and of Higher Education in particular would increase due to the reform - It was not associated with a qualitative increase in the salaries of higher education teachers close to those of Albania's neighboring countries such as North Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia, etc. - It did not include private universities in the law, leaving gaps in their management - Politics continues to exert pressure on Universities despite the Autonomy and Guidelines for University elections which remains a Guidelines which is the same as guidelines for political elections, because it allows elected leaders to act as dictators. small' and vindictive. The fact shows that GDP for Albanian Education in General remained 5% of Albania's GDP, instead of increasing and approaching its neighbors whose average is over 8%. The protests of the Higher Education lecturers remain a legal protest. The governing authorities should be reminded that they should not take measures against the protesting lecturers. However, in Albania there remains the shadow of the influence of politics on protests in general, that from time to time we see other protests that happen with political motives instead of being purely professional and with the aim of economic and financial improvement. Finally, the teachers' protest, although delayed and at a difficult time for the country, can never be the whim of the teachers, because this intellectual class remains dependent on the monthly salary to survive, just like the poor class, instead of it was a decent salary.