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Language Schools in Albania (LSIA)

A short historical overview since 1994

April 1994

The proposal to launch the English language school to teach Albanian natives was established between students and professors from Tirana University and with Philip H. Bell, of Australia. Funding was expected to be acquired from the UK through letters conveying the performance of students in Albania.

June 1994

The Language Schools in Albania (LSIA) was founded as a charity (Nr 37), hosting language experts and professors with tenures in local university programs, along with senior English students from the Faculty of Foreign Languages, Tirana University. The Dean of Faculty of Foreign Languages of Tirana University, Professor Hamlet Behzani, was elected as the first Chairman of LSIA.

August 1994

Attracting over 1000 sponsorship entities expressing their support, Barrister, Thomas Ballantine Dykes (TBD) was appointed secretary of the UK sponsorship committee to coordinate activities in the United Kingdom.

January 1995

The British sponsors registered as a charity by TBD, adopting the Albanian charity (LSIA) title and the distinctive emblem for letter headings registered by the LSIA.

April 1996

Over the year, LSIA observed a decline in incoming grants, curriculum supplies, and funding from the UK. During this time, Mr. Bell went on to pursue other interests while his assistant Mr. Genci Muçaj became LSIA’s Executive Director.

January 1997

The onset of ‘97 marked the last transfer of UK funds to LSIA headquarters. As a result, additional staff in England were sought to secure fresh funding and resources.

Feb - July 1997

LSIA closed all its schools due to a lack of funds granted from the UK. During Aug. and Sept., instructors worked without salary, and a fee of £3 per month was asked of students who could afford it, to cover their supplies. This challenge demonstrated the Albanian team could support LSIA without assistance from abroad over what became the span of 3 years.

March 1998

LSIA’s British Chapter, initially registered by TBD, changed its organizational name to the British Albanian Educational Trust (BAET) while keeping the original LSIA emblem that originated in Albania.

July 1999

Following intensive research and improvements to its bylaws, LSIA earned itself the designation of becoming the first Albanian charity organization to be validated by Britain’s Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) to receive tax-refundable grants from Britain (subject to statute).

June 2000

BAET was revived, and soon after, during a meeting in Birmingham between Director Muçaj, Reg Pointer, Garry Chattaway, and Colin Smith, the UK Strategic Committee was formed to support LSIA. They agreed to lead a group of unpaid volunteers from the ranks of previous donors in support of LSIA.

August 2000

LSIA became the first organization to be licensed by the Ministry of Science and Education of Albania under the protocol (Nr. 227), which established that LSIA-issued certificates would be recognized throughout Albania and the Balkans.

May 2001

Through LSIA’s UK Strategic Committee, LSIA partnered with Nottingham Police Aid Convoy NPAC to deliver five tons of invaluable educational training materials to the LSIA headquarters in Tirana. Donations were the collective effort of hundreds of people across the United Kingdom who entrusted LSIA with the distribution of this aid to communities in need throughout Albania.

September 2001

A strategic partnership with the United States Peace Corps was established, opening the door to several passionate volunteers who taught English at LSIA chapters in Berat, Korca, Lushnje, Tirana, and numerous other locations.

January 2002

The growing demand for LSIA’s education services convinced the organization’s leadership to open four new chapters over the year, bringing the total number of branches to thirteen. LSIA’s selfless commitment and unbridled leadership spurred an additional 14th schools to be established before the year concluded.

May 2002

NPAC delivered six tons of extensive educational aid and technological resources (including twenty-five computers) and entrusted LSIA with the distribution of 70 tons of humanitarian aid to some of Albania’s most impoverished regions. A close partnership was established with fellow humanitarian international organizations CAFOD, Save the Children, and ADRIA to implement viable, sustainable projects.

September 2003

Earlier in the year, new LSIA regional schools were inaugurated in Fier, Korça, and Fushë-Krujë. Charters in the city of Puke, a locality near Shkodra in the North, and Bilisht, bordering Greece, were established subsequently after.

September 2004

The first LSIA branch outside of Albania was launched in the neighboring country of North Macedonia; the first language nonprofit registered in the nation by a native Albanian entrepreneur.

December 2005

The number of LSIA schools increased to 18 branches, retaining over 3,500 students per year. This year saw LSIA’s highest attendance and retention in the history of its service, an achievement that distinguished itself in the private education policy community of Albania.

October 2006

LSIA partnered with several national and international peer schools and organizations, including Hilderstone College, Anglican School in English, Share One Language (SOL) based in the UK, and People to People International (PTPI) located in the US.

April 2007

Elected as a member of the ‘Peace through Education’ consortium, LSIA became a part of a community of 4,000 schools and educational programs, and PTPI’s pen-pals in the US and UK. This active program spawned many of LSIA’s long-standing and most rewarding friendships, exposing Albanians to the world.

January 2008

Ten years after it first opened its doors, LSIA became deeply integrated and involved in humanitarian work with its partners in the UK, NPCA. Seven-hundred and fifty tons of aids were collected, reaching more than 15,000 families, individuals, early and primary education schools, orphanages, and many venerable segments of Albanian society searching for life-changing educational opportunities.

April 2008

The completion increased significantly; however, this year, LSIA experienced a slight decrease in student enrollment. The number of similar schools reached 270 only in Tirana. Back in 1994, LSIA was the only language school of this type in the country’s history.

June 2009

LSIA experienced a reduction in available teachers and students in some remote regions, resulting in the closing of four schools. A minor, episodic decrease in students occurred this time as well.

November 2010

The charming and historical town of Prizren in the Republic of Kosovo received its first LSIA branch, the second branch outside of Albania, adding to its expanding operational map in the Balkans.

September 2011

Seventeen years to date, LSIA remains as the first and, by a wide margin, the largest language-education effort in Albania. With over 20,000 students enrolled since 1994, and with over 5,000 completing their English curriculum, thousands have continued their learning at prestigious universities abroad and now contribute in dozens of professional fields. LSIA has tenured 300 English teachers, including 45 native speakers and teachers from the UK, US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, fostering an international culture that brings people together and prepares them for a better future.

October 2012

LSIA experienced a decline in the number of attending students and were prompted to close branches due to misinformed changes to laws and regulations in private education, market regulations, and the proliferation of unfair competition.

December 2013

Two new schools were closed in smaller municipalities due to a shortage of English instructors, affecting Prizren, Kosovo, and Girokastra, in southern Albania.

November 2014

LSIA suffered its worst recruitment year to date and further underwent the branch’s closure in Struga, North Macedonia. The total number of students dropped to 1,200 by the end of 2014, compared to 3,500 attending students in 2005.

September 2015

This year, a complete turnaround occurred as LSIA experienced an upswing in attendance and created an admissions waitlist, allowing the organization to reopen schools to accommodate the surge.

October 2016

LSIA continues to grow, with the resilient team recovering lost ground and momentum suffered in 2014. LSIA lays the groundwork to open schools in the cities of Pogradec, Librazhd, Elbasan, Laç, and Lezha.

September 2017

Founding partners are called upon to pursue new partnerships in the international community. LSIA begins collaborating with Fragile Peace in PA, US, to create a regional hub to fill teaching opportunities in Tirana and foster pathways to strengthen existing initiatives with local and international partners in business and academia. These efforts were made to reintroduce confidence, stimulate creativity, and inspire the student body by exposing them to professional paths made accessible through LSIA’s human and educational resources.

January 2018

AlbaniAid, a UK charity, partnered to provide LSIA with educational equipment, including classroom furniture, computers, books, school kits, and other facility resources to help LSIA expand its operations and reach. During this time, a new web presence was launched, complimenting LSIA’s effort to increase its exposure to international community opportunities.

March 2019

LSIA has been steadfast in maintaining a distinguished leadership and continues to sustain its place amid the frenzied emergence of unregulated English schools created to profiteer, engendered by the implementation of misguided education legislation. LSIA uses this opportunity to expand its lingual scope, adding Korean and German, while signing several agreements, including an MOU with Confucius Institute, and becoming the only Albanian language school to teach Chinese in the nation. Groundbreaking achievements continue with the new relationship with the Menaul School in New Mexico to provide online English language classes and examinations for students worldwide.

March 2020

The emergence of Covid-19 has impacted LSIA’s operations in unprecedented ways. Shifting the focus to online education, LSIA is seeking partnerships with the People’s Republic of China, among other nations, to transfer our long-standing expertise and provide our seasoned staff a medium to provide their successful curriculum to English learners around the world.

September 2020

An intensive amount of work was put together by a dedicated international team to build LISA Learning website which will serve as online version of LSIA. LISA Learning will extend its services not only on language learning but will also serve as online platform for talented people to share their knowledge and reach lifelong learners around the world.