Sara Sejdiu is a 10-year-old girl from Greme, a small village in the outskirts of Ferizaj. She lives there together with her parents and two siblings and attends fourth grade at primary school “Jeta e Re” (eng. New Life).
Sara’s journey at school has been rather difficult. According to her support teacher Doruntina Asllani Qerimi: “Sara would never say a word or participate in school activities, and even though they her teachers tried many methods to get her to participate in school activities, her unwillingness to talk made it difficult and excluded her from school activities”.
Figure 1. Sara Sejdiu during her classes with the support teacher
Sara’s success has been linked with her participation in sessions with the support teacher at primary school “Jeta e Re”. Twice per week, Sara benefits from individual sessions with her support teacher Doruntina with the aim to build her capacities to fully participate and ensure inclusion within the classroom. She has benefited from these sessions since 2018 when Save the Children started the implementation of the Action for Inclusive Education project supported by Save the Children Italy with funding from Ferrari Foundation.
“Save the Children has ensured that Sara has someone who thinks and looks after her, has helped me personally develop my professional capacities to provide necessary support for Sara and with didactic materials needed to successfully organize the sessions”
-Doruntina Asllani Qerimi.
Sara loves to draw and her favorite subject at school is Mathematics and her favorite exercises are with numbers where her teacher helps her do multiplication and subtraction and ranging numbers from the smallest to largest. Even though she still lags behind, during a short period of time, Sara has managed to learn counting out loud to 100.
Figure 2. Support teacher Doruntina working together with Sara at Primary School “Jeta e Re” in Greme, Ferizaj
Sara’s mum and dad are both deaf-mute which made some believe that this was the case with Sara too, however, since she talks about school with her siblings at home it is believed that Sara suffers from a condition known as selective mutism.
Figure 3. Sara exercises multiplication with her support teacher Doruntina
Selective mutism is described as “persistent failure to speak in specific social situations (e.g., school, with playmates) where speaking is expected, despite speaking in other situations”. Children with selective mutism often engage, interact, and communicate verbally within comfortable surroundings, such as at home or with trusted peers. These children are capable of speaking and understand their native language. However, when placed in structured social settings such as school, they are mute and socially withdrawn.
“Sara was completely left-out of education, since she was reluctant to speak in class. Since we have been working together, Sara communicates more, and is able to participate in the classroom and learns more, I am told by her teacher” – Doruntina Asllani Qerimi, support teacher
Sara’s future looks promising, apart from the challenges that lay ahead. She hopes to grow up and become a teacher one day, and just like Doruntina, help open windows of knowledge for girls and boys in Kosovo.
Figure 4. Sara on her way back home from school in Greme, Ferizaj
Sara’s support teacher Doruntina hopes that the individual sessions will help equip Sara with basic skills such as literacy and numeracy that can have an impact on her later life.
“In the future, I hope Save the Children invests more in inclusive education, supporting more schools, advocating with the Ministry and public institutions to ensure that more children like Sara are supported not just in Ferizaj but other municipalities too”
-Doruntina Asllani Qerimi.
 American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. (4th ed., text rev.). Washington, DC: Author