SARAJEVO – The Regional Youth Cooperation Office’s (RYCO) – Local Branch Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina in cooperation with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) organized the introductory event “Meet the Superschools of Bosnia and Herzegovina” in Sarajevo on February 2nd, 2023 in the framework of the Superschools Exchange Programme. The meeting gathered the 19 awarded high schools from Bosnia and Herzegovina 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.
Opening remarks were delivered by Mr. Adnan Husić, assistant to the minister of the Ministry of Civil Affairs, who said that he was glad that RYCO continued with the second cycle of the Superschools project and that he hoped that other schools would also take part. He pointed out that young people represent the potential of Bosnian society and that it is therefore important to recognize and enable different forms of their active participation. “The Ministry of Civil Affairs is extremely pleased to support the Superschools program, which best contributes to the mission of RYCO and the development of youth skills and the process of reconciliation in the Western Balkans.” – concluded him.
Ms. Aurélie Valtat, Head of the European Integration, Politics, Press and Information Department of the Delegation of the European Union in Bosnia and Herzegovina emphasized the importance of education in her speech, that it comes not only from the inside but also from the outside, and that she recognizes the essence of the RYCO Superschools program. “This project inherits peace building, reconciliation and intercultural dialogue.” – stated the Head of the European Integration, Politics, Press and Information Department of the Delegation of the European Union in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Ms. Lea Thurm, Counselor for Public Affairs, in front of the German Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that young people need a space where they can get to know each other, come to terms with the past and, more importantly, find out what kind of future they want for themselves and those around them. She compared the relationship between the Western Balkans and the relationship between Germany and France, which has changed through exchange programs, and that there is no better way but to involve young people in the reconciliation process.
Ms. Sandra Čule, Head of the Local Branch Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina, expressed her gratitude to the professors for taking the initiative, creativity, and desire to provide their students and themselves with a unique experience of the Superschools project. In front of the RYCO office, she emphasized the hope that this positive practice will bring positive changes for generations to come. She presented proof of the popularity and uniqueness of this project through the interest shown in the open call, and the number of registered high schools for the second cycle was over 300 schools, of which 100 high schools in the Western Balkans were given the opportunity to participate in this unique regional experience.
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 19 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.