BELGRADE – The Regional Youth Cooperation Office’s (RYCO) – Local Branch Office in Serbia organised the event “Meet the Superschools of Serbia” in Belgrade on 8 February 2022 to promote “Superschools” programme and present 18 ideas from Serbia supported within the first open call of the programme.
The event was attended by Mr Branko Ružić, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development of Serbia, Mr Vanja Udovičić, Minister of Youth and Sports of Serbia, H.E. Mr Emanuele Giaufret, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Serbia, H.E. Mr Thomas Schieb, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Serbia and Ms Ivana Antonijević, Head of the RYCO Local Branch Office in Serbia.
Mr Ružić opened the event congratulating the schools for beinging selected for the Superschools programme and emphasised that the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of Serbia supports this programme from the very beginning and that it is of the essential importance how much regional cooperation is high on Government of Serbia’s agenda and how much it is supported. He also used the opportunity to thank the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany to Serbia and to the EU Delegation to Serbia which the realisation of this programme wouldn’t be possible.
“Direct communication will lead to the reconciliation and development of the region. The future is up to young people and they should not be limited by the past events. They should find a common denominator for the future. We need to focus on the thighs that connect us,” Mr Ružić added and highlighted the importance of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office’s work. He concluded by emphasising that young people will change older generations, politicians and parliament members with their experiences and underlined that we will testify about common activities with which the region will move forward.
Mr Udovičić emphasised that Serbia has played a significant role since the establishment of RYCO in creation of the region tailored-made for youth, where they will build bridges of friendships and with that ensure a perspective future.
“We are expecting much from RYCO as an organisation to motivate youth for intersectional cooperation and generating cooperation which will impose a different message in the region. We are expecting young people to take a leading role in gaining knowledge and skills,” Mr Udovičić pointed out and thanked the EU and the German Embassy for the support, as well as schools participating in this programme which will be a base for a better future and regional cooperation.
Mr Giaufret said that the European Union is proud to support this regional programme with which reconciliation spirit will be promoted. “The EU fully supports initiatives which foster a spirit of reconciliation and cooperation among young people in the region,” he underlined and emphasised that 2022 is the European Year of Youth and presented numerous programmes with which young people can be empowered and supported.
Mr Schieb congratulated all the schools on their project ideas which are supported and emphasized that RYCO is here to foster reconciliation. He underlined that the Superschools programme is a reflection of RYCO’s strivings, and that youth cooperation and enhancement of dialogue has to be a long term goal, as the support for these processes should be.
Ms Antonijević expressed her gratitude to ministries on continuous support to RYCO, as well as the EU Delegation and Federal Republic of Germany to Serbia. “Until now, RYCO has supported 110 projects and 25 000 young people that participated in our programmes. Still, what is not visible, and what we are proud of, are changes which are happening in young people lives when participating in the exchanges programmes where they change their opinions. She also highlighted that these exchanges are opportunities for development of young people from schools that are selected to participate in this programme.
The principals and professors who will coordinate and implement these school youth exchanges presented their ideas that will be further developed with the help of RYCO and its mentors. Тhey also had the opportunity to meet each other, network and discuss next steps in the implementation of the programme with RYCO staff, as well possible joint collaboration in future, but also what their needs for enhancement of youth mobility, intercultural dialogue and teachers skills are.
The implementation of the exchanges will take place from March to June 2022 when each partner school will organize one exchange visit to the partnering one lasting between six and ten days with a group of up to twenty students and one to two teachers. Through the exchange scheme, students and teachers will have a chance to travel, present themselves, their schools and customs to their hosts and learn new things about local communities in different parts of our region.
During the first Superschools open call, RYCO received 127 exchange proposals while more than 412 schools from the Western Balkans used the online platform www.superschools.net for networking with other schools. The 30 best projects are aimed at supporting the peacebuilding and reconciliation processes and intercultural learning and dialogue among schools, students, and their communities.
About the Superschools program
Superschools is a program for school exchanges in the Western Balkans 6 with the objectives to support the peacebuilding and reconciliation processes and intercultural learning and dialogue. The program is being implemented for three years and 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 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) together with the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO). The project has a total budget of €5.5 million and contributes to the overall objective of increasing the skills and knowledge of young people in the Western Balkans by enhancing education systems and promoting cooperation in the region, through establishing a regional school exchange scheme.
RYCO is an intergovernmental organization that stewards and promotes regional and intercultural cooperation of young people within and among six Western Balkans societies. RYCO’s programs focus on creating opportunities for young people to engage in activities that build mutual understanding and reconciliation in the civic, social, educational, cultural, and sports domains. RYCO initiates and participates in policymaking and advocates for reform. It supports the development of a political and social environment that empowers and facilitates youth exchange.
RYCO puts young people at the centre of its work and believes that they should be creating a culture of mobility, intercultural exchange, and reconciliation. Young people should also be active contributors to democratic development, social and economic prosperity, and European integration in an increasingly open Western Balkans region. Six Western Balkans societies should be providing proactive support to youth exchange and youth engagement within the region and across the region.