VLORË – A two-day kick-off meeting of representatives of ministries responsible for education in the Western Balkans started today, on Thursday, 15 July 2021 at Hotel Regina Garden in Vlorë, Albania within the framework of the “Western Balkans School Exchange Scheme” project. The meeting is organised by the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH to bring together representatives of ministries to discuss key objectives of the project as well as the support needed for its successful implementation.
The project “Western Balkans School Exchange Scheme” is co-funded by the European Union (€4.5 million) and the German Federal Government (€1 million) and will be implemented by RYCO and GIZ over the next three years.
RYCO Secretary General Mr Albert Hani and GIZ Regional Program Manager Mr Filip Radunovic welcomed the participants, highlighting that the ministries play a crucial role in enabling the environment for schools to apply and participate in regional school exchanges.
Mr Hani stated that “School exchanges are beneficial for students as they expand their horizons and create opportunities for learning. In order to successfully promote and implement school exchanges, we would need the support of ministries in charge of education and youth”.
“The project will support the organisation of regular meetings of ministries’ representatives since they are central stakeholders in the upcoming regional school exchange scheme. Those meetings will be a chance to inform respective ministries on the progress of the project itself, but also give them a chance to enhance regional cooperation and bring it to the next level – which is now, for the very first time, exclusively focusing on youth exchange,” Mr Radunovic added.
Short presentation of RYCO’s work and the project Western Balkans School Exchange Scheme was followed by an open discussion on the role of the ministries. Participants discussed the promotion of the call, teacher training accreditation and administrative barriers such as school bank accounts. In addition, there was an exchange on the planned kick off conference and the next steps of project implementation.
The second day of the meeting will be reserved for the discussion on the Memorandum of Understanding between RYCO and ministries and the presentation of the project’s brand of the regional school exchange will be presented.
Background on “Western Balkans School Exchange Scheme” project
The regional project “Western Balkans School Exchange Scheme” is co-funded by the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by RYCO and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in the RYCO Contracting Parties (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia). The project, which will be implemented in the next three years with a total budget of €5.5 million will focus on supporting schools to develop and conduct youth exchanges as well as to design a regional school exchange scheme which will enable primary and secondary school students (age 13-17) to participate in a long-term RYCO exchange program. In addition, the project aims to further strengthen the institutional and organisational capacities of RYCO.
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with Security Council Resolution 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.