TIRANA – The Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) in cooperation with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) organized the introductory event “Meet the Superschools of Albania” in Tirana on January 25th, 2023 in the framework of the Superschools Exchange Programme. The meeting gathered the 17 awarded high schools from Albania represented by their principals and teachers in charge of coordinating the upcoming regional exchanges not only to get to meet with each other but also to be part of a significant momentum such as the signing of the Partnership Agreements.
The activity was participated by Mrs. Evis Kushi, Minister of Education and Sports, H. E. Christiane Hohmann, Ambassador of the European Union in Albania, Mr. Martin Karl Zickendraht, First Secretary in Charge of the Culture and Press Section at the German Embassy, and Mrs. Alba Brojka, Head of the Local Branch Office of RYCO in Albania.
“I am very proud of the 17 high schools and professional schools that will be included in the second cycle of the “Superschools of Albania” program, a student and teacher exchange program between the societies of the Western Balkans” – said Mrs. Evis Kushi. The minister also emphasized that the importance of this program is closely related to the values and impact it conveys through the promotion of peace, dialogue, intercultural communication, as well as regional cooperation.
Ambassador Christiane Hohmann stated that the European Union is very proud to support this project. “We are very happy that there will be more and more Superschools in the region. We see this project as part of our wider objective to support youth engagement, and regional cooperation and reconciliation. The EU will continue to place young people and children at the center of our cooperation with the Western Balkans.” – reinforced further the ambassador.
Mr. Martin Karl Zickendraht, First Secretary in Charge of the Culture and Press Section at the German Embassy, went on to congratulate the awarded schools on the new journey they are about to embark on. “Superschools is at the heart of what RYCO is about and at the heart of our support to RYCO. Bringing societies, bringing young people together to have common experiences and forge friendships is the best way to overcome long histories of division, mistrust and war between nations. That is a lesson we learned from our own history and from overcoming a Europe of wars and jointly turning it into a force for peace. Congratulations to the winning schools: you are part of something great!” – he concluded.
“Superschools is not just a project. Superschools open a door of opportunity to get to know each other, an impetus for a new dialogue, and an opportunity to shape not only students but active citizens in our societies in the Balkans. This year we are happy to have 17 schools everywhere from Albania, with exchange programs throughout the whole region. This year’s special is the support of two schools that were part of the exchanges a year ago, in order to establish a sustainable partnership” – expressed Mrs. Alba Brojka in her welcoming speech at the event.
On a final note, the teachers were addressed and greeted by the Youth Governing Board Member of RYCO in Albania, Ms. Franceska Muco who congratulated further the awarded schools for a successful implementation of their project ideas and invited them to cherish this remarkable regional experience to the fullest.
The directors and professors who will coordinate and implement these youth exchanges presented their ideas that will be further developed with the support of RYCO. The meeting served as a space for the participating schools to present their exchange programs in front of several important local and international actors, and also helped them create a clear overview of the next steps of the program. Young people representing the 17 high schools, will have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of the unique experience that the Superschools program has to offer.
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.
Photos by: The official Facebook Page of Ministry of Education and Sports.