SKOPJE – The Regional Youth Cooperation Office in cooperation with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) organized the introductory event “Meet the Superschools of North Macedonia” in Skopje on January 26th, 2023 in the framework of the Superschools Exchange Programme. The meeting gathered the 16 awarded high schools from North Macedonia 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 event was attended by Mr. Gjonul Bajraktar, State Counselor in the Ministry of Education and Science of North Macedonia, Mr. Naumce Mojsovski, Director of the Agency for Youth and Sport of North Macedonia, H.E. Mr. David Geer, Head of the Delegation of the European Union in North Macedonia, H.E. Mr. Otto Graf, Chargé d’Affaires a.i of the Embassy of Federal Republic of Germany in North Macedonia, Mrs. Ivana Antonijevic, Program Manager for Superschools and Mr. Vladimir Gjorgjevski, Head of the Local Branch Office in North Macedonia.
The opening remarks were delivered by Mr. Gjorgjevski who pointed out that the demand from the schools to cooperate and exchange has been huge, so the amount of projects in the 2nd cycle is almost doubled. “There are many lessons learned for us from the 1st Cycle as implementing organizations, so I have no doubt that the 2nd Cycle will bring us even better results and impact in the Western Balkans.” – concluded he.
H.E. Mr. Geer said that 2023 will mark the European Year of Skills. “I am happy to see that the second cycle of the Superschools program has a strong focus on acquiring new skills for young people who need to enter the labor market. But the program does much more. It allows young people to express their hopes and aspirations for the future. It helps them connect with peers from the region. And it encourages them to work together in shaping their societies for the better”.”
H.E. Mr. Graff underlined that the exchange between schools lays the foundations for a better understanding between neighboring people. “RYCO is a champion in these activities and plans to exchange 2,300 students in two phases. Schools from North Macedonia effectively use this program for their students. Germany is proud to support efforts through GIZ.” – expressed Mr. Graff during his speech.
“The Superschools program, which undoubtedly contributed and will continue to contribute to getting to know our neighbors and have better opportunities for youth cooperation and mobility of young people in the Western Balkans.” – Mr. Mojsovski emphasized.
“No major change can happen overnight. Especially not in education, where changes are systemic processes through which the improvement of the knowledge and skills of young people is influenced, but also their perceptions are influenced. It is this project that has started a systemic process that affects the thinking about building peace, coexistence and solving challenges through dialogue and gives excellent results.” – stated Mr. Bajraktar.
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 16 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.