30 secondary schools from Serbia are selected to participate in the second cycle of RYCO Superschools regional exchange program. The event “Meet the Superschools of Serbia” gave schools the chance to meet each other, presented exchange ideas and signed Partnership Agreements.
The Regional Youth Cooperation Office’s (RYCO) – Local Branch Office in Serbia in cooperation with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) organized the event “Meet the Superschools of Serbia” in Belgrade on February 1, 2023, in the framework of the Superschools Exchange Programme. The meeting gathered the 30 awarded high schools from Serbia represented by their principals and teachers in charge of coordinating the upcoming regional exchanges.
The event was attended by Mr. Branko Ružić, Minister of Education, H.E. Anke Konrad, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Serbia, Ms. Plamena Halacheva, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Serbia, Ms. Snežana Klašnja, Advisor to the Minister of Tourism and Youth of Serbia, Ms. Daniela Funke, Country Director of GIZ Serbia and Ms. Marija Bulat, Head of the RYCO Local Branch Office in Serbia.
H.E. Ms. Anke Konrad pointed out that the RYCO is one of the most prominent outcomes of the Berlin Process, as well as that RYCO makes a significant contribution to reconciliation in the Western Balkans. Youth exchanges within the “Superschools” program enable young people from the region to get to know and understand each other. “Last year, 800 young people took advantage of this opportunity, and some of them had the opportunity to present their experiences at the Berlin Process summit in November 2022 in Berlin. That is why Germany will continue to attach great importance to the activities of RYCO”, emphasized H.E. Ms. Konrad.
Ms. Halacheva emphasized that European Union fully support initiatives that encourage the spirit of reconciliation and cooperation among young people in the region, with the aim of creating opportunities for young people to meet, exchange ideas, establish cooperation by connecting, developing trust, accepting cultural and linguistic diversity, as well as to build lifelong friendships and contacts. „Dialogue and cooperation between schools will give a voice to young people to foster democratic practices and will contribute to the construction of sustainable and inclusive development in the Western Balkans“, she pointed out.
Superschools are a RYCO program for school exchanges in the region with the objectives to support the peacebuilding and reconciliation process and intercultural learning and dialogue among schools, students and their communities. The program is part of a multi-donor project “Western Balkans School Exchange Scheme” co-financed by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by GIZ and RYCO. The first cycle of the exchanges took place in 2022 and 60 schools as well as 800 students participated in the exchanges. The second cycle of the exchanges will bring 100 schools and more than 1500 students from all parts of Western Balkans region together. List of selected schools can be found here.
The implementation of the projects will be divided into two rounds: The first round of exchanges will happen from April to June 2023 and the second round will continue from August to October 2023. Each partner school will organize one exchange visit to the partnering one lasting up to 7 days with a group of up to 12 students and 1 to 2 teachers. Through the exchange scheme, students and teachers will have the chance to travel, present themselves, their schools, and customs to their hosts, and learn new things about local communities all throughout the region.
155 exchange proposals were submitted for the Superschools 2nd Open Call, 161 partnerships were created from which 17 are long-term coming from the 1st cycle, while more than 535 schools from the Western Balkans used the online platform www.superschools.net for networking with other schools. The selection committee had the difficult task of selecting the 50 best projects aiming at supporting the peacebuilding and reconciliation process in the Western Balkans region and intercultural learning and dialogue among schools, students, and their communities.