PRISTINA – The Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) organized a capacity building training within the RYCO Superschools Exchange Programme for 60 secondary school teachers from the region. It was the first time that participants got to meet each other in person, to build ties of friendship and to collaborate together on developing their regional exchange plans. The event took place in Pristina from 18 to 21 of February 2022.
Besides the schools’ representatives, the event was also attended by RYCO and GIZ representatives as well as by mentors who will be supporting schools in developing their youth exchange programmes. The event was opened by Head of the RYCO Local Branch Office in Kosovo* Ms Krenare Gashi-Krasniqi, GIZ Project Manager Mr Jasmin Valejvac and RYCO Superschools Program Coordinator Mr Astrit Rexhepi.
The training helped teachers to understand what makes a RYCO exchange different from the kind of excursions that schools usually make. Specifically, how and why RYCO exchanges include not only sightseeing and leisure activities, but also learning opportunities on the key themes of intercultural dialogue, peacebuilding, constructive remembrance and reconciliation. Through games, role-plays and group activities, teachers had opportunities to directly experience the kinds of learning their students can benefit from and to anticipate how they can constructively manage any challenges that may arise in an intercultural context. The training was also very practical. Teachers were given concrete planning templates, guidance, time and support from mentors to work collaboratively on their plans.
“During these three short days, it was great to see how teachers’ enthusiasm and motivation for the RYCO Superschools programme increased, how well teachers from across the region worked together, and what great ideas they have for their upcoming exchanges! I love working with teachers and I’m so excited to see the results of their exchanges. Many seeds for reconciliation in region are sure to be planted,” senior consultant in the fields of Intercultural dialogue, peacebuilding and reconciliation, Ms Sara Clarke-Habibi, who led the training, pointed out.
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 fifteen 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.
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.
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.