Unique and unifying – these words can describe the Primary School “Fridtjof Nansen”. The school was established in October 2008 in the village of Preljubishte, Municipality of Jegunovce.
This was the first integrated bilingual primary school in North Macedonia in which pioneering steps were taken to bring Macedonian and Albanian children closer in this part of the Polog Region; at that time, this region was still living with the consequences of the armed conflict in 2001.
In settlements with deep ethnic divisions, the Nansen Dialogue Centre – Skopje (NDC) started a mission that seemed impossible to many at those times – students from two ethnic communities, burdened with mutual distrust, to attend classes together in the same facility and classrooms.
Dedication, vigilance and perseverance helped the NDC team to gain the trust of the parents who bravely supported the opening of the school.
24 first-graders, half of them Macedonians and half of them Albanians, started the school year in the small school in the village of Preljubishte. Many of them have learned few words of the “other” language for the first time, and have learned that they all have the same goal, regardless of their ethnic origin – to study and grow into healthy individuals who will contribute equally to a better environment for their future children.
A small school has become a great source of new, successful and unifying moments; each new school day has developed trust, empathy, respect and cooperation between students, their parents, teachers and other school staff.
Numerous foreign and domestic delegations came to visit the school, which became an inexhaustible source of inspiration for many journalistic articles telling the story of success.
Former first-graders are now adults who studied and grew up in a positive, encouraging and safe school that became an example and model for many schools that grew into partners in the development of the Nansen model for intercultural education in North Macedonia.
The first integrated bilingual school in Preljubishte would not have been possible without the support of the main donor – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Norway.