Members of London’s Albanian community gathered in Westminster in June 2013 to support the Shpresa’s programme’s campaign to make the Albanian language a GCSE qualification.
The event was funded through a Small Grant and was attended by prominent figures including MP for Newham Stephen Timms and the Albanian Ambassador for London, his Excellency Mal Berisha.
There was a really cheerful atmosphere at the event, with people coming together of various ages and occupations to show their support for the campaign. The compere for the evening was CEO of Citizens UK Neil Jameson, while there were several talks from individuals and organisations highlighting the benefits of making Albanian a GSCE subject. Academic Ratha Perumel, a professor at the Cass School of Education, presented the positive effects of speaking more than one language, highlighting the intellectual, social and occupational benefits of being bi-lingual. Ms Perumel also spoke of research carried out at the University of Toronto, which suggests how learning another language can actually help to evade the onset of certain ailments including dementia!
It wasn’t just academics and professional’s offering their insight, and several young people also took to the stage to voice their ideas and opinions too. 14 year old Aida eloquently recited a poem in Albanian which was a beautiful moment for Albanian and non-Albanian speakers alike. The audience was also held in silence as they listened to 6 year old Kevin, who spoke fluently in both English and Albanian to the room.
Martin Pinder, who works for the Newham Partnership of Complimentary Education said, “Multilingualism vastly develops intellectual capacity, and plays a crucial part in retaining a connection to one’s culture and heritage. Having the GCSE will give young Albanian’s a goal to work towards, and prevent them from discontinuing their learning of the language in their teenage years.”
There is a strong sense of pride among the young people at Shpresa about continuing to learn and refine their mother tongue - a pride which has spurred their determination to raise the £100,000 necessary to make Albanian a GCSE. Shpresa have also amassed heaps of signatures on a petition to lobby the Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) to take the necessary steps to introduce the subject into the classrooms. The conference in Westminster made great strides in Shpresa’s campaign, and hopefully they can achieve their goal.
To sign the electronic petition and find out more about Shpresa, visit; www.shpresaprogramme.com
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