RYCO in Serbia Organizes Opening Event for Superschools

If you are a teacher from a high school in the region, we invite you to sign up for the best school exchange ever.

BELGRADE – The promotion of Superschools project has officially started as our colleagues from the RYCO Local Branch Office in Serbia organized the opening event for the presentation of the Western Balkans School Exchange Scheme “Superschools” project which took place in Belgrade on Wednesday, 6 October 2021. 

The honored guests of the event, the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Government of Serbia Mr Branko Ružić, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Serbia H.E. Mr Emanuele Giaufret, and Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Serbia H.E. Mr Thomas Schieb, together with Head of RYCO Local Branch Office in Serbia Ms Ivana Antonijević, delivered their opening remarks.

Ms Ivana Antonijević opened the event and welcomed the distinguished guests on behalf of RYCO and its Local Branch Office in Belgrade and passed the floor over to the minister.

In his opening remarks, Mr Branko Ružić, emphasized the importance of this new project and initiative. He stated that education is not only about studying, textbooks, and classroom desks in that conventional sense, education is much more than that and that the ministry is working to educate not only the students but also the teachers and our associates so that the development of the created thinking, research and networking and socializing of all actors is enriched.

Mr Ružić added that RYCO has the segment of networking, knowledge, and experience-sharing through formal and informal means, and it needs stronger support to help create solid and sustainable bonds between the young people. 

Ms Ivana Antonijević thanked the Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development for the overwhelming support in the process, for helping reach high schools in Serbia, and for encouraging schools’ staff to cooperate and be part of this project. In continuation, she emphasized that the EU is one of the biggest supporters in the development of RYCO from its start and not just in terms of financial support but also through other means. In that regards she welcomed H.E. Mr. Emanuele Giaufret

H.E. Mr. Emanuele Giaufret, highlighted that this program focuses directly on cooperation between the high school in the regions with the aim to gather young people, to inspire change, and to creating meaningful cooperation between the schools. He added that dialogue and cooperation are the platforms to hear the voice of young people to nurture democratic practices, mutual understanding, and basic human rights and to help create sustainable and inclusive development through mutual sharing and building of trust between the young people of different ethnic backgrounds.

With this program, the EU continues to support RYCO to enable young people to actively participate in all social processes and decision-making processes, to promote the spirit of reconciliation and cooperation, and support the establishment of trust and mutual understanding in the Western Balkans. 

Ms Ivana Antonijević also shared with the participant that RYCO was modeled by the French-German Youth Office (FGYO) which was established after the Second world war and still exists. She said that she hopes that RYCO will reach the same longitude but until then we cherish the strong support provided to RYCO by the German Government, appreciating the strong collaboration that the RYCO Local Branch Office in Belgrade has with the German Embassy. 

H.E. Mr Thomas Schieb underlined that RYCO is one of the most important success stories of the Berlin Process, which was launched in 2014 to promote regional cooperation and reconciliation, and RYCO was its flagship project in that regard. He added that RYCO has an impressive record after five years of existence and the next logical step is that we include the schools in the exchanges that RYCO is implementing so that young people can enjoy the benefits from the exchange of experience. He emphasized that it is true that youth exchanges contribute to their better understanding and trust. Mr Schieb also emphasized that this is a challenge for the Western Balkans, in particular for the older generations, as a change of perception can be harder than for the young people. For this reason, it makes sense to put a particular focus on young people so that they are exposed to different views and perspectives.

Furthermore, RYCO Project Coordinator Mr Astrit Rexhepi and Ms Antonijević conducted a session with the 17 heads of administrative schools districts and informed them about the Superschools project and the work of RYCO.

The info sessions aim to provide more information to all interested schools within the region about the process of enrolling, conditions for participation, how to find and match with a partner school, fill the joint application form, and propose activities. 

The RYCO Superschools project is a program for school exchanges in the Western Balkans that supports peacebuilding and reconciliation processes, intercultural learning and dialogue among schools, students and their communities. By participating in this program, secondary schools will have a chance to apply and, if selected, implement school-to-school exchanges as well as to participate in the program’s activities dedicated to their capacity building, networking and cooperation. The proposed activities aim at making the Western Balkan societies more resilient to the political challenges of the region by empowering their youth to take active participation in intercultural dialogue and regional cooperation. An important priority of youth exchange is to give all young people equal opportunities to access the exchange activities. Information on info sessions’ schedule taking place across the Western Balkans can be found here.

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