Superschools Kick-Off Event “Exchange for Change”: New Opportunities to Bolster Regional Cooperation

High Schools from Western Balkans to Apply for New Exchange Scheme

Tirana, 7th May – Kick-off event titled “Exchange for Change”, organized by Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), marked the beginning of the new cycle of regional secondary school exchange scheme program, best known as RYCO Superschools. In a vibrant atmosphere of the GIZ office in Tirana, event gathered diverse group of guests – from distinguished Ministers and Ambassadors, representatives of partner organizations, to teachers and students from the region, under the moderation of Superschools Project Manager Ms. Mimoza Gavrani – to celebrate beginning of the 2nd phase of the project that aims to support peacebuilding and reconciliation processes, intercultural learning and dialogue among schools, students, and their communities. 

The highlight of the event was the launch of a new, 3rd Open Call, that will provide an opportunity for 90 schools Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia to connect and implement joint activities through the unique exchange scheme in the forthcoming period. From the 7th of May until 21st of June 2024, all interested schools will have a chance to apply for the exchange program and find a partner school from a different part of the Western Balkans region. 

In the opening remarks of “Exchange for Change” event, RYCO Secretary General, Albert Hani and GIZ Team Leader Jasmin Valjevac emphasized the importance of Superschools program for the regional collaboration, peacebuilding and intercultural learning. Through interactive dialogue they explained key achievements and highlights of previous cycle and goals of the forthcoming one that will while at the same time contributing to dialogue and youth empowerment:

Efforts to make Western Balkans societies more resilient to local political challenges and more prone to cooperation and dialogue has been RYCO’s goal for the past eight years. And to achieve that goal we must start acting from an early age. That’s why the Superschools project is of such importance not just for RYCO, but for each individual in the Western Balkans region. Youth, especially in their early age, has the power to bolster reconciliation efforts and open the door for long-lasting bonds and cooperation. Today, when the new phase of the project begins, we don’t celebrate just a new opportunity, but also a huge empowering potential for all the region,” stated SG Hani.

In his opening remarks EU Ambassador to Albania, Silvio Gonzato, highlighted the benefits that this project brings to all Western Balkans region. 

“Superschools bring new perspectives for students, for teachers, and for all the region. It’s a ‘multiplier of friendship’ that goes beyond prejudices and gives opportunity to youth to share experiences and dreams and find communalities. Young people look into the future and want to build a shared vision, and education and exchanges are good ways to build a connection and partnership for a more positive future for the region.”         

Ambassador of Federal Republic of Germany in Albania, Karl Bergner, pointed out the importance of exchange programs for youth empowerment and regional cooperation. 

“Germany, as a founding member of the Berlin Process, has consistently supported RYCO’s mission, recognizing that fostering regional cooperation through initiatives like the Youth Forum and Superschools program is vital for paving the way towards EU integration. By investing in youth exchange and supporting the active participation of youth in policy-making, we are empowering a new generation to shape a peaceful, cooperative future for the Western Balkans.”     


Minister of State for Youth and Children Bora Muzhaqi highlighted Superschools as an important platform of enabling meaningful l youth participation and collaboration

Superschools enables an environment of trust, understanding and empathy. A school exchange does not impact only the teachers, the students or their school, but the entire community where the school is situated. I call the schools from Albania, and from the Western Balkans, to apply for the 3rd Superschools Open Call and keep contributing to this new reality of our region.


Deputy Minister of Education and Sports Nina Guga adressed in her remarks:

Superschools is a golden ticket for the teachers and students of the Western Balkans to shape a new narrative of long-lasting friendships and cooperation. We strongly encourage the secondary schools of the region to make the best out of this opportunity.

From 2021 when the project started, over the course of two open calls RYCO supported 77 bilateral partnerships of secondary schools from the region and facilitated the exchange of around 1840 high school students through 154 organized exchanges. Throughout the program, 308 high school teachers from the region strengthen their capacities in RYCO thematic areas, non-formal education, and project management. Furthermore, an additional 3688 young people were indirectly involved through local outreach activities organized by schools. Exchange for change event brought together some of the former participants to share their story and spread the “voices of classroom”. 

“I am grateful to be part of the Superschool project. It has provided me with the opportunity to learn new things and share experiences with people from diverse cultures. Additionally, it has allowed me to meet individuals from various backgrounds and forge new friendships,” shared Eronita Krasniqi from High School “Abdyl Ramaj” from Kosovo. 

Pirot Secondary Vocational School Director, Marija Ćirić, shared her experience with two previous cycles of exchanges in which students from that school participated together with students from North Macedonia: 

“The project is not only related to education, but also addresses topics such as intercultural dialogue and reconciliation in the region. We could see how students break prejudices, build friendships and develop their self-confidence. These young people have the power to change the region and should be supported.”

The new project cycle, announced in Kick-off event, will last until 2026, and through two open calls will bring together 2600 young people and support 90 Superschools bilateral partnerships. The exchanges will be carried out by 360 teachers that will have their capacities to design and implement quality youth exchanges improved through the Superschools program capacity building activities. 

Superschools is part of the multi-donor project called “Western Balkans School Exchange Scheme” jointly financed by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO).


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