Memorie.al/ publishes the unknown story of Ferid Tofik Jegeni, originally from Dibra e Madhe, who after receiving his first lessons in his hometown and especially in Thessaloniki, together with many Dibra boys continued his studies in the capital of the Ottoman Empire in Istanbul, attending the Faculty of Exact Sciences (Department of Mathematics), but was forced to stop them, as at that time the riots of the Balkan war began and the family was forced to withdraw Ferid to Debar, where he began working as provincial secretary in the Municipality of Maqellara , work which he continued until 1915, where he cooperated closely with the councils of elders and the people of that area and with their help were built privately and opened 7 Albanian schools in the villages: Trebisht, Ostren i Vogël, Borovë, Klenjë, Stërblevë, Lejcan, Lladomiricë.
When Ferid was working in the province of Golloborda, in implementation of the decisions of the London Conference of 1913, after nine years, the eastern border of our country with Yugoslavia, defined in 1913 by the infamous Treaty of London, was being defined on the ground. By a commission set up for this purpose. At that time, thanks to the foreign languages he spoke, Ferid was called as a consultant to that commission, where he served for several months. With his work he greatly influenced the decisions of that commission for the establishment of the border line, proving that all the villages in that area, spoke 100% Albanian language.
After Ferdi also served as director of the school and dormitory in the village of Kastriot in Peshkopi, he was transferred to the Ministry of Education in Tirana, with motivation; “For excellent ideas in the field of education and for the role of the school in a civilized society.” But although Ferid Jegeni worked with a rare dedication for several decades in spreading Albanian education, during the years of the communist regime, his work and contribution were left in oblivion, not being given the place he deserved.
Ferid Jegeni, the teacher who opened the first schools in Debar
One of those thousands of teachers of the great army of Albanian teachers, who dedicated their whole lives to the spread of the Albanian language and the national cause, undoubtedly remains Ferid Jegeni. A well-known intellectual from Dibra e Madhe, whose work and contribution were forgotten during the years of the communist regime of Enver Hoxha. Based on this fact, as a sign of homage and honor, Memorie.al is remembering this prominent missionary of Albanian education, bringing to this article a short history of his life and work, mainly in the field of education.
Education in Bitola, Thessaloniki and Istanbul
According to the testimonies and memories of some of the suckers of the famous Jegeni family from the district of Dibra and their relatives, Ferid Jegeni, who was the eldest son of the famous patriot, Tofik Jegeni, was born in Velika Dibra, on September 20. Of 1893. They recall that Ferid came average from the stature, but had a bound body, with penetrating eyes, and distinguished not only for manners in behavior, but also for intelligence, which very quickly attracted the attention of teachers and peers. Of the school. Feridi received his first lessons in his hometown, in Dibër e Madhe, where he finished with high results the civic school, whose director at that time was Abdyl efendi Tirana (Balla).
Under the guidance of his father, Tofik, together with many other boys from Dibra, Ferid received his first lessons in Albanian with the Istanbul alphabet. He finished his first lessons in his hometown brilliantly, being declared the best student, and as a sign of encouragement, the school leaders gave him a gold watch. After graduating from the civic school in Bitola, Ferid continued his secondary education in the city of Thessaloniki in Greece, where he distinguished himself in the acquisition of foreign languages. As a result, by the time he finished school in Thessaloniki, he was fluent in Turkish, French, Arabic, and Persian. After that he attended classes in the capital of the Ottoman Empire, in Istanbul, studying the exact sciences (in mathematics), but was forced to discontinue them, as at that time the riots of the Balkan war began. As a result of those events, the family was forced to move Ferid to Debar, where he began working as a provincial secretary in the Municipality of Maqellara, a job which he continued until 1915.
Opens schools in Zerqan
During that period when Ferid was serving as a clerk in the Municipality of Maqellara, out of state duty, he voluntarily taught the Albanian language to young people. But during that time Ferid was bothered to leave school for half in Istanbul and based on this fact, he started working, making it possible in 1920, to take the exams and get the proof of his ability to teach in schools. Middle of the country. After that, in the same year, Ferid started teaching in the village of Patin, Mati sub-prefecture.
In December 1922, he was appointed provincial (mayor) in the Golloborda region. According to the testimonies of his family members, Feridi often recalled that that period of time had been decisive in setting his goals, to devote himself to the spread of the Albanian language and many other problems related to the national issue. This is the period when he worked intensively, with all his physical and moral strength, for the spread of knowledge and culture in the region of Dibra. In January 1923, Ferid made a request to the Ministry of Education in Tirana, arguing the necessity of opening Albanian schools in the sub-prefecture of Zerqan, a province which had historically been education-loving and had produced not a few prominent figures, but in that time was left in oblivion.
Ferid’s request was immediately accepted by the Ministry of Education and with its approval he started the work to realize the goal he had set for himself. For this, Ferid cooperated closely with the councils of the elders and the people of that area. With their help, 7 Albanian schools were built privately and opened in the villages: Trebisht, Ostren i Vogël, Borovë, Klenjë, Stërblevë, Lejcan, Lladomiricë. However, even though it was possible to open schools in these remote villages, Ferid did not consider his mission and the goal he had set for himself completed, as there was a lack of teachers to teach in those schools. Based on this fact, Feridi begins to prepare the teaching staff himself, traveling from village to village, in a mountainous terrain and harsh climatic conditions, organizing courses for the preparation of new teachers.
Functional in the Ministry of Education
In 1924, Ferid started a family by marrying a young girl in Velika Dibra, who was called Menduka Pustina, the daughter of Ali Pustina, from the most famous families of Dibra, the granddaughter of Nuredin Pustina, two personalities, social and quite popular politics of that time. Ali Pustina fell heroically in 1914, in the war against the Serbian occupiers, in the area of Golloborda. According to the documents located in the Central State Archive in Tirana, (box no. 2, file 28, page 323, year 1923), it is known that Ferid Jegeni also served as director of the school and dormitory in the village of Kastriot in Peshkopi. , thus being the first appointed director of that famous school, with many names not only in the District of Dibra, but also beyond.
During the period that he served near that school, there is no lack of extraordinary efforts of Ferid to put the work in the school on a scientific basis and to organize and systematize the dormitory, which was the first in that area. After five years of service, in 1928, Ferid transferred to the Ministry of Education in Tirana, with the motivation; for excellent ideas in the field of education and for the role of the school in a civilized society. Feridi tried and worked with a rare dedication, for a development of Albanian education on legal, scientific and pedagogical basis.
Leaving the Ministry of Education, as a “non grata” person
According to the testimonies of his family, as a patriot and nationalist committed to the national cause, at a time when foreign ideologies (the influence of Italian fascist methods) had entered Albanian education and culture, dangerous and with consequences for the fate of Albania, Ferid Jegeni, would oppose, would not even allow imposing interventions in the work of Albanian education. Precisely for this attitude in 1938, when he was a functionary in the Ministry of Education in Tirana, at the age of 45, he was retired as a “non grata” person.
After that, Ferid returns to his hometown, very disappointed, and in order to overcome his pain and at the same time his helplessness, he starts to deal with the breeding of the family manor, in Sokolliq of Velika Dibra. He did that work together with his brother, Musa Jegen.
Assists in the education of young people in Dibra
During the period when Ferid was working in the Ministry of Education, where he also covered the scholarship sector, he made a great effort to award state scholarships to many children and students from Dibra and those from different parts of Kosovo. Thus, during that time many students from the areas of Kosovo and Dibra, were given scholarships to attend secondary and high schools, not only in schools, pedagogical and commercial high school, or in the military gymnasium and the Royal Military School in Tirana and in the main cities of the country, but also abroad.
During this period, many Dibra boys and girls were educated with the support of Ferid, and even his younger brother, Isa Jegen, who at the time was a functionary in the General Directorate of the Ministry of Health. The Jegeni brothers, who saw education as a necessity for the independence and progress of their homeland, without violating the principle of awarding scholarships to students with very good grades and who had no financial income, tried to support the latter, convinced that the wealthy could afford to keep their children in school on their own, thus increasing the number of educated.
Ferid did agitating work and encouraged the families of the poor not to hinder their children from attending school. In many cases, he even wrote the requests himself to the students. A whole constellation of intellectuals from the Dibra area, outside and inside the border, finished high school and high school, thanks to the care and great help of Ferid and Isa Jegen. This is how they continued the high school of Korça; Nazmi Uruçi, Akil Sakiqi, Muntaz Kodra and other boys from Dibra, who put me, became high cadres of the Albanian state. In the Commercial School of Vlora, studied Xhevat Pustina, Remzi Verzivolli, Remzi Pustina etc. Irfan Tërshana, Dali Ndreu, etc. studied at the “Harry Fultz” technical school, Tirana. Likewise, the Jegeni brothers helped Hiqmet Menzelnxhiu (Dibra), Abdulla Pasholli, Urfi Agolli, Shefqet Ndroqi, etc. to study abroad for medical sciences, who in their specialties became prominent figures throughout the country.
Yegen’s contribution was not appreciated by the communist regime!
But although Ferid Jegeni worked with a rare dedication for several decades in spreading Albanian education, during the years of the communist regime, his work and contribution were left in oblivion, not being given the place he deserved. Although in the archives of the Albanian state are found many documents with the reports made against him by the Italian legation, in the period when Ferid worked as director of the Ministry of Education in Tirana, he was never given a patriotic pension. Not only that, but his activity in the field of school education, where he was not only an honored teacher and school leader, but also a director in the Ministry of Education until 1938, was not even mentioned by the writers of the history of education. In Albania. In November 1963, completely forgotten by the state he served for decades, Ferid Jegeni passed away, without receiving his pension. Only after the ’90s, with the proposal of the Ministry of Education, the President of the Republic, Sali Berisha, with the decree no. 642, dated 3.9.1993, gave him the title “Merited Teacher”.
The life and work of teacher Ferid in the memories of his students
“He was a real missionary of Albanian education”
According to Vesel Pitarka and Nefail Pustina, former students of Kastriot civic school, Peshkopi (school where Feridi had taught), who would later continue the military school in Tirana, with the intervention of the Jegeni brothers, they were sent to study in Italy. Respectively for ‘Finance Guard’ and Engineering, ‘Military Engineer’. After studying in Italy, Pitarka and Pustina returned to Albania, where they had an excellent career in their fields. These former students of Ferid Jegeni, together with their friends: Miftar Jegeni, Ahmet Jegeni and Hajri Jegeni, years later would remember: “The school and dormitory” Dibra “in Kastriot, Peshkopi, were among the best schools Ferid Jegeni was at that time the director of the school and the dormitory, who was in charge of all the work himself. He slept or did not sleep 4-5 hours of sleep in 24 hours, but he was energetic and indefatigable. In the lessons of the students, he taught them to lead a cultured life, in every aspect. “Another former student of Ferid, Ruzhdi Shehu, an academic officer, recalls: “Ferid Jegeni also manifested his patriotism in the religious field. He translated our religious prayers from Arabic into Albanian, so that we could pray in our beautiful language. He had a delicate taste, a few words, but his word was convincing to all.He, in the true sense of the word, was a missionary of Albanian education, with a big heart, noble, worthy teacher and patriot honest.
Ferid’s story with the International Borders Commission, which persuaded the commission to leave Albanian villages across the border
While Ferid was working in the province of Golloborda, in implementation of the decisions of the London Conference of 1913, after nine years, the eastern border of our country with Yugoslavia, defined in 1913 by the infamous Treaty of London, was being defined on the ground. , by a commission set up for this purpose. At that time, thanks to the foreign languages he spoke, Ferid was called as a consultant to that commission, where he served for several months. With his work he greatly influenced the decisions of that commission for the establishment of the border line, proving that all the villages in that area, spoke 100% Albanian language.
Not only Ferid Jegen’s family members, but also quite a few elderly people from those areas where he worked closely with foreign representatives of border control and demarcation, remember and still tell in their conversations about the Dibra chambers, a distant story that happened on those sides when the border was divided. They show how Ferid managed to convince the International Borders Commission, only by means of a maneuver: He took a bag of small coins (crowns) out of his pocket, and gave it to a teacher in a school yard, giving it advised to throw to children when they go on vacation.
In the presence of the representatives of the Border Control Commission, the teacher from Dibra acted as Ferid ordered and immediately all the children jumped to get the coins, shouting: “I got so much, I got so much”. They even started arguing. “You took me by the hand”, “Take the hell”, etc. In these moments, Ferid turns to the Macedonians and says: “Hey, how do the children talk here”?! They stayed and whether they wanted to or not, they said: “Albanian”. Thus, thanks to this maneuver of Ferid, some villages, such as: Gjinovec, Gjinovec Mountain (1616 m. above sea level), Raduc Mountain, Vernica village, Trebishti and others, remained within our state border. Even if you look closely at the border line of that sector, as the border passes through the ridge of the mountain massif of Jablanica, in the area we described above, it undergoes a curvature exactly in the villages and mountains we showed above.
Rasim Mata and his brother, who were students at the school when the story we described above happened, also testified about this story a few years ago. Ali Erebara, a lawyer and a member of that commission, also testified about this event. When asked Mr. Ali Erebara about that event, he said: “I will never forget the gesture made by Ferid, no one has done it until today. But he, Ferid has many merits, especially in the spread of education in that area. “There are documents in the archive for this, because everything is recorded in the minutes of the demarcation.”/Memorie.al