The Albanian education system is quite different than the United States education system. There is a definite need of improvements in both education systems, but for now I am going to completely ignore the problems with the United States education system and focus on the deficiencies of the system in Albania. I guess I should start with an explanation of cultural differences between Albania and the United States that might shed some light on the difficulties I am facing in my job as an English teacher here in Albania.
Firstly, school goes from 1st to 12th grade, 10th-12th being optional. The amount of time spent at school is an interesting topic. School runs from 8 am to 1 pm. Insert: there is also a 5 minute break in between each class and a 20 minute break in the middle of the "day". Plus each class is only 45 minutes long. This whole time schedule is a huge disadvantage to the students. Between disruptions, classroom management, and questions, there is barely any time to properly/thoroughly teach new lessons. The 12th grade has two 45 min classes a week. That is only 1 1/2 hrs of English per week. No one can be expected to sufficiently learn a language without repetition and constant practice.
Another interesting fact about Albanian classes is that all the classes are multi-level. Meaning, there could be a boy who does not know a lick of English in the same class as a boy who speaks English fluently. This creates problems for the students, as well as the teachers. First, it is hard for a teacher to create a lesson plan for a group of students that has so many different needs. This leads to the better English students receiving attention, while the students, who actually need the instruction don't get the attention that they need/teachers just give up on kids who need their help the most. Teachers, here in Albania, cater to whoever makes their job easier and that is usually the kids who do not need as much instruction.
Failing a class absolutely, positively SUCKS (for lack of a better word)! Not only do those students who fail a class have to retake that specific class, but they also must retake the entire year's curriculum. For example, if a boy failed 11th grade math and aced all of his other classes, that boy would have to re-take the entire 11th grade, simply because he failed 11th grade math. This system goes back to the problem with multi-level classes and the unwillingness to help struggling students.
In order to graduate from high school, each senior must take and pass a set of Matura tests. The best way to describe these tests would be a national final exam that is also used for college admission. If a student wishes to continue their education by attending a university they must send their Matura test scores plus three majors (ranked) that they are interested in pursuing. Based on test scores, students are placed in majors and in universities around Albania. The university in Tirana is thought to be the most prestigious and is where the students with the highest test scores are usually placed. In the end, students don't really get a say in what they study or where they go to school. Unfortunately, it is all based on numbers.
From my experiences thus far, the Albanian education system seems to be quite corrupt, just like most “regulated” institutions in Albania. How is a country, which wants to rid itself of corruption, able to instill honest, hard work when Albanians are exposed to it at very young ages and in places, like schools, where honesty is not valued and hard work does not help one get ahead? Buying grades, hiring and firing teachers based on political views, and simply just allowing this behavior in schools is not helping the corruption problem in Albania. Not teaching kids right from wrong, and creating a society where knowledge and experience mean absolutely nothing compared to money is perpetuating Albanian corruption. In my opinion, the only way Albania is going to be able to eliminate corruption is by starting with a younger generation, holding students responsible for their actions, educating them about morals and ethics.