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Recommending Policies to Provide Equal Access to Higher Education
Macedonia
April – May 2000

Macedonia MapMacedonia gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Although Macedonia did not undergo the violence and conflict that touched other parts of the former Yugoslavia, underlying tensions along lines of ethnicity, language, and religion remained—and affected equitable access to higher education.

BEPS was asked to develop a policy options paper for the USAID/Macedonia program that provided technical assistance to higher education in Macedonia. This paper addressed the issue of bringing ethnic minorities increasingly into the mainstream of Macedonia, ensuring them equal access to jobs and fully integrating them into the economy of Macedonia.

After reviewing relevant information and interviewing principal stakeholders, the BEPS team identified major deficiencies in the teaching of Macedonian, the country’s official language, in schools where Albanian or another minority language is the language of instruction. The team also found that minority students were treated unfairly in university admissions, with more stringent admissions criteria being applied to ethnic Macedonians than to those of any other nationality in Macedonia.

BEPS concluded that the Van der Stoel proposal of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) laid the foundations for a political solution to the educational dimension of ethnic tensions and that policy would benefit from supporting the OSCE proposal. The BEPS team then developed policy options that would provide long-term benefits to the ethnic groups involved and proposed actions for new legislation.

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