AAI FOCUSES ITS ENERGIES IN FIVE DISTINCT AREAS:
1. SCHOLARSHIPS: AAI's goal is to create a path for students from kindergarten through university. Each year we support 5-10 university students and about 25-40 high school students. We are very strict about only giving scholarships to students with 8/10 scores in all classes. AAI is particularly interested in seeing girls go on to high school and university. It has concerned Steve from the inception that girls in Shkrel do not have an equal chance as boys to go beyond the village nine-year schools. Traditionally girls are kept home after 9th grade and married around age 18. With the world changing under the mountaineers of Albania, AAI helps them adapt and succeed in modern Albania. Our scholarships are based on a student's merit rather than gender, but as it happens, the girls have higher marks.
2. ENGLISH PROGRAM: AAI hired the first English teacher in 2001, and now provides English classes in Vrithe. in 2017-18, we are consulting with the Boga/Xhaj School Director to provide English once again in those villages. Our English teacher, Aleks Ulaj, has taught three classes in Vrithe, including nearly all students at the school for over ten years. He is integral to our mission.
3. LENDING LIBRARIES: In 2003 when the Albanian Alps Institute was established, there were essentially no library books in any of the eleven schools in the Shkreli School District in Malesia e Madhe. Steve first took books to Boga in the winter of 2001. When Steve and Terri returned to Boga in the fall of 2002, they took more. Since that time we have given each of our five schools $25/month to buy books. In 2017 there were several hundred books in each school library.
4. BASIC SCHOOL SUPPLIES: Albania is the poorest country in Europe. The schools are frequently just building shells, simply partitioned into classrooms with cheap chalkboards on one wall and very basic, decrepit desks. The children on the other hand are very bright and eager to learn. Providing such basics as good chalk boards and chalk, art supplies including paper, colored pencils, crayons, scissors, etc. makes a big difference in the children's education. AAI has also supplied reference books and dictionaries. In special cases we provide laptops or a Kindle to a promising student. We support kindergartens in Shaj, Dedaj, and Zagore.
5. SCHOOL REPAIRS: AAI pays for some modest school repairs each year, mostly in Boga, where we provide upkeep for the school. In 2015 we repaired the water system in Xhaj and two years on, the toilets and sinks still have running water.