TIRANA – The Regional Youth Cooperation Office’s (RYCO) Local Branch Office in Albania organized the online introductory meeting “Meet the Superschools of Albania” in the framework of the Superschools Exchange Programme on Friday, 4 February 2022. The meeting gathered 11 awarded high schools from Albania, represented by their principals and teachers in charge of coordinating the upcoming regional exchanges, as well as the representatives of the Delegation of the European Union to Albania, German Embassy to Albania, Albanian Government’s ministries, and RYCO.
The event was opened by the Head of the RYCO Local Branch Office in Albania Mr Kreshnik Loka who shared an overview of the Superschools program.
“I am confident to say that this meeting is a milestone for regional youth cooperation because we have fully included in this long and crucial process of reconciliation, one of the main actors that contribute to the development of our young people, the high schools, and their teachers from the region,” Mr Loka underlined and added that through the Superschools program, all high schools of the region now have a chance to change the narrative of the past and that in doing so they are the pioneers of this initiative.
The meeting served as a space to present the exchange ideas coming from Albanian high schools and discuss them with important local and international partners.
Head of the European Union Delegation to Albania Ambassador Luigi Soreca stated that the Superschools from Albania, together with the other Superschools from the Western Balkans, support reconciliation, intercultural learning and dialogue among students and their communities and in doing so they bring Albania and the whole region one step further on the EU integration path.
Interested in the 11 presentations, H.E. Mr Peter Zingraf, Ambassador of Germany to Albania stated that “it is great to see among the 60 schools participating in the Superschools exchanges all possible country pairings, from an Albanian point of view: Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro, Albania and North Macedonia, Albania and Serbia. I am looking forward to many friendships and partnerships being made in these coming months.”
Furthermore, Ms Bora Muzhaqi, Minister of State for Youth and Children of Albania congratulated the schools and said that the spirit of regional cooperation starts from the youth and that the Superschools program gives opportunities to many young people from different schools in Albania to visit or host their peers from the region and exchange the culture, ideas, values of their societies with the youth of the region.
Representing the Ministry of Education and Sports of Albania, Ms Zamira Gjini, confirmed the support of the ministry towards this program and congratulated all the awarded schools on their ideas and is looking forward to witnessing the implemented exchanges.
Youth Representative of Albania in the RYCO Governing Board Ms Françeska Muço underlined that traveling and getting to know new cultures has already shown that it has the superpower to develop young people in more than one aspect, to make them more open in accepting each other, supporting diversity, breaking stereotypes, growing personally or to develop different skills, to be better citizens.
The event also provided a great opportunity for networking and sharing ideas between the high schools supported within the Superschools program in Albania.
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 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.