RYCO and UNICEF Continue Supporting Western Balkan Teachers

WESTERN BALKANS RYCO and UNICEF, supported by the UN Peacebuilding Fund, are implementing the second part of a teachers training on “Intercultural Dialogue, Peacebuilding, Constructive Remembrance and Reconciliation: A Toolkit for Teachers in the Western Balkans”,  gathering 22 teachers from the region. Due to restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the five-day training is taking place between 4 to 18 December, in a blended learning format with online sessions and offline assignments.

Following on the themes of intercultural dialogue and peacebuilding that were introduced during the first training phase held in March, the main topics of the second part revolve around issues of dealing with the past and transitional justice, remembrance and regional reconciliation. Teachers are able to explore concepts of regional history and identity through dialogue, personal reflections and interdisciplinary perspectives.

On the first day of the training, the focus was on constructive remembrance and reconciliation.

“It is a pleasure to see the teachers overcoming all the challenges COVID-19 has brought to their lives and work, and coming together to learn more about these topics and new or different ways of introducing reconciliation, remembrance and dealing with the past into their classrooms, be it in formal or informal activities,” Ms Vladica Jovanović, Project Leader, stated.

Speaking of the challenges to learning and teaching about these topics, Early Learning Education Specialist UNICEF Albania Ms Mirlinda Bushati highlighted the existing gaps and the relevance of the training. 

“The Toolkit produced by this program along with this training for schools in the Western Balkans, is trying to feel a gap, providing more knowledge and skills to teachers as well as guiding them on how to convey this information to young people, to critically think and to teach them how to design and act upon creative and constructive solutions,” Ms Bushati emphasized.

“Constructive remembrance of the past is key to building sustainable peace and reconciliation within and between societies in the Western Balkans. Teachers are at the frontlines of helping the next generations to correct the errors of the past. Young people in the region need access to a usable history – one that helps them to understand the worldviews and choices underlying the errors and harms of the past, and that equips them to see themselves as actors who can shape a more unified, peaceful and just future,” Ms Sara Clarke-Habibi, Peacebuilding Trainer, concluded.

In the upcoming sessions of the training, teachers will learn about the role of healing in peacebuilding and reconciliation and will develop competence and skills in bringing reconciliation and remembrance into their classrooms. 

The Teacher Training on “Intercultural Dialogue, Peacebuilding, Constructive Remembrance and Reconciliation” is undertaken in the framework of “Supporting the Western Balkan’s Collective Leadership on Reconciliation” a joint UN-RYCO project, with the financial support of the UN Peacebuilding Fund, and implemented in partnership with RYCO, UNDP, UNFPA and UNICEF.

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