Podgorica – The Regional Youth Cooperation Office’s (RYCO) Local Branch Office in Montenegro in cooperation with the GIZ organized meeting entitled “Meet the Superschools of Montenegro” in the framework of the Superschools Exchange Programme on Friday, 11 February 2022. The event was attended by the Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, Ambassador of the Republic of France, representative of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in Montenegro, Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports, and eight headmasters and teachers in charge of coordinating four awarded projects from Montenegro.
The program is implemented by the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
Head of the RYCO Local Branch Office in Montenegro, Mr Edin Koljenović, in his introductory remarks, welcomed the esteemed guests and pointed out that he is happy and proud that today we have results in the form of project ideas of the high schools from Montenegro which have been selected and will be implemented in the upcoming period. In this mission, we have strong support from the side of our partners – primarily the EU, and French and German governments.
“The Superschool programme plans to support 100 cross-border exchange projects that will be implemented by high schools. Our goal is to create a stable and sustainable platform, a program that will remain in the Western Balkans. One of the aspects of sustainability is building a regional platform for cooperation – connecting high schools. During the first Superschools call, we had 427 schools from the region registered on the platform, which cooperated with each other to develop their project ideas,” Mr Koljenović pointed out.
Head of the European Union Delegation to Montenegro Ms Oana Cristina Popa stated that the youth exchange and empowerment is an important element of the European Union’s efforts to help build a safer, more prosperous and more connected Western Balkans. “Therefore, from our side, we are happy to pledge the EU’s continued encouragement and support for all initiatives that seek to actively involve young people in building a better future for the region,” she said and commend the RYCO Local Branch Office in Montenegro for its dedicated work in empowering and connecting young people in the region.
Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Montenegro H.E. Mr Robert Weber pointed out that it is necessary for people to see each other and meet each other. “RYCO is making the first step in that regard and I want to congratulate you on this, as you are doing an important thing. Although focus is on politics, your work is even more important. Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany will continue supporting you on this road,” Mr Weber concluded.
First Counsellor of the French Embassy and the Director of the French Institute in Montenegro Mr Laurent Goncalves underlined that thanks to the Superschools project, high schools in the region have been able to find partners and will work to create shared memories and forever change the perception they have about each other, which is a great opportunity for students. “The French Embassy has been supporting RYCO since its inception through the youth actions implemented by RYCO and we will continue to do so in order to enable young people to gain as much insight into the ideas and values that inclusive democracy is consisted of. RYCO values inclusion and peace, and we will continue to support you on that road,” he pointed out.
During the second part of the meeting, Program Officer at the RYCO Local Branch Office in Montenegro Ms Bojana Lalatović moderated the discussion during which headmasters and professors from the awarded schools presented their project ideas. Ms Lalatović also used this chance to present the activities the awarded schools will take part in the upcoming period.
In the closing remarks, Mr Goran Drobnjak, representative of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Montenegro, congratulated the schools and said that the spirit of regional cooperation starts from the youth and that the Superschools programme gives opportunities to many young people from different schools in Montenegro to visit or host their peers from the region and exchange the culture, ideas, values of their societies with the youth of the region.
Director of Directorate for Sports and Youth and Governmental Representative of Montenegro in the RYCO Governing Board Mr Marko Begović confirmed the support of the Directorate for this programme and congratulated all the awarded schools on their ideas. He emphasized that he is looking forward to witnessing the successes of exchanges that would stimulate interaction between young people from different parts of Montenegro.
The event also provided a great opportunity for networking and sharing ideas between the high schools supported within the Superschools program from Montenegro, namely, Secondary Mixed School “Ivan Goran Kovačić” Herceg Novi, Secondary Vocational School Bar, Secondary Vocational School Bijelo Polje and Grammar schools “Panto Mališić” Berane.
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 programme
Superschools is a RYCO 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 center 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.