16 years after war ended, Kosovo is looking to the future.
The Transformational Leadership Program – Scholarships and Partnerships (TLP), a partnership between World Learning and USAID, aims to support the next generation of leaders as they tackle Kosovo's economic, political, and social challenges. By providing technical assistance to the University of Prishtina and scholarships to study in the United States, the program builds the skills and resources young leaders will need to transform their country.
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The University of Prishtina (UP) is the largest public institution of higher education in Kosovo, enrolling nearly 54,000 students across sixteen faculties. The university boasts a rich heritage dating back to the 1960s. During the conflict-torn 90s, the government in Belgrade banned Kosovars from the campus, and university professors responded by creating a parallel system of classes in their homes.
Nonetheless, in the years since the war, spiraling student enrollment coupled with insufficient funding has hindered UP's forward movement.
The Transformational Leadership Program addresses the University of Prishtina's challenges head-on by providing technical assistance to the Office of the Rector. World Learning and its partners will improve the university's capacity to prepare graduates for the needs of Kosovo's growing economy and developing state.
They will support steps to enhance student life, teaching, research, external communications, and other core areas. Priorities include creating a Dean of Students Office, increasing academic exchanges with peer universities, and effectively communicating the progress of reforms to the public and broader University of Prishtina community.
The program also provides direct education and training opportunities. Over five years, TLP is awarding fully-funded scholarships for Kosovars to pursue 185 Master's degrees and 160 professional certificates at U.S. universities - even the cost of living is covered. These young leaders will study everything from aviation safety to game design to international relations in top programs across the United States.
When alumni return to Kosovo, they will be placed in key institutions, especially in the public sector, where they can employ their new knowledge and skills to influence change from within. Over time, this new generation will drive innovation, development, and reform in Kosovo.
Agnesa, a TLP scholar from the city of Pejë, personifies the next generation of Kosovar leaders. Growing up, she mastered English by listening to music and watching TV. She later became fascinated by the world of game design, the potential of games to create alternate realities and open players to new possibilities. As she says, "the experiences that [players] go through in games teach them [to be] open to any circumstance and any kind of individual - to expect anything from anybody."
In August 2015, Agnesa is bound for the U.S., where she will pursue a Master's in game design. When she returns to Kosovo, she plans to apply her new expertise to create a gaming community in Kosovo.
Kosovo, one of the world's newest countries, continues to invent itself. Key to this process are the passion, energy, and innovative thinking of the next generation of Kosovar leaders. The Transformational Leadership Program helps to ensure that, when these leaders take the stage, they will be equipped with the skills and training needed to transform their country.
Watch TLP scholars describe the program in their own words.
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