7th of March, is known as the Teacher’s Day in Albania, and is celebrated in all schools and universities to celebrate this important cultural and historical day. On March 7, 1887 the first school in the Albanian language was established in Korca. This was an important milestone in education in the country which has suffered so much unrest. Albanians opened the first desegregated, secular school in what was then the Ottoman Empire.
That was a great achievement for the Albanian national movement as well as for secular liberals during the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman government didn’t recognize ethnic or linguistic communities; it only recognized religion establishments and their language. As the Albanians lacked a common religion or a national church, they were allowed no education in their own tongue — except for a few Catholic schools in some areas, which were also heavily oppressed. For centuries during Ottoman rule in Albania, Albanian books were prohibited, and they were printed abroad.
In 1885, Naim Frashëri, a government civil servant in the education ministry, Sami Frashëri and along with other influential Albanians involved in the Society for the Publication of Albanian Writings managed to get permission from the sultan for the opening of a private Albanian boys elementary school in Korçë. Financial support for the school came from a Diaspora Association Drita (English: the Light), an Albanian society based in Bucharest, while Albanians from Istanbul got Pandeli Sotiri to become its first school director. Both the Society for Albanian Writings and Drita had agreed in past times not to antagonize town notables who were under Greek cultural influence by founding Albanian schools. As such Drita sent one of its members Thimi Marko, a town native on a mission to discuss the matter and he met with the Orthodox Metropolitan and his council in Korçë. The Constantinople Patriarchate refused teaching Albanian in the Greek schools belonging to the Korçë Orthodox community. Pandeli Sotiri was sent to Korçë and opened the school on 7 March 1887. Due to a lack of education material Sami, his brother Naim Frashëri and several other Albanians wrote textbooks in the Albanian language for the school.
During 1887, Pandeli Sotiri had to leave Korçë and administration of the school passed to Petro Nini Luarasi, a revolutionary and Thanas Sina. The Ottoman authorities gave permission only for Christian children to be educated in Albanian, but the Albanians did not follow this restriction and allowed Muslim children to attend. In the first few years, the school overall had some two hundred enrolled students of Muslim and Christian faiths. By 1888, the elementary school had 100 Christian and 60 Muslim students. School managed to survive for fifteen years until 1902.
The 7th of March has been celebrated for decades. It is a special day for the appreciation of teachers, and includes celebrations to honor them for their special contribution.