Western Balkan Teachers Develop Capacities on Constructive Remembrance and Reconciliation

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

Following on the themes of constructive remembrance and reconciliation that were introduced in the first sessions, the final days of the training focused on strategies of bringing remembrance and reconciliation into the classroom. Teachers explored a variety of methods and competencies that will equip them with new pedagogical approaches that are crucial for peacebuilding and intercultural learning.

The opening remarks of the concluding session were delivered by  RYCO Deputy Secretary General Mr Fatos Mustafa and UNICEF Representative in Albania Mr Roberto De Bernardi.

“It is extremely important for teachers to explore concepts of regional history and identity, as well as to discuss and transform emotions and empathy for the experiences of others. This is one of the pillars of regional reconciliation and transitional justice,” Mr De Bernardi emphasized in his speech.

Speaking of RYCO’s mission to enhance reconciliation and empower youth of the region, Mr Mustafa focused on the importance of education and teaching for youth. “2020 has been a year when many processes were put to test. This crisis has shown us once again the immense importance that teachers have for educating independent young people, equipped with knowledge and critical thinking, but also with kindness and solidarity,” Mr Mustafa added.

During the discussions that followed, teachers also shared insights on the training. “The activity was very well organized and fully realized. Due to the difficulty of the topics I am grateful to the entire team for giving us support and showing patience for the participants that had difficulties dealing with the memories so vivid to them. The only thing missing was for us to be physically present in one room and able to discuss all of the topics to the tiniest of details. We hope that we will get the chance very soon,” one of the teachers said.

In the upcoming months, teachers will work on transferring their newly gained skills and knowledge into practice by implementing new pedagogical approaches. Each teacher will introduce one new activity in their classrooms at school, covering topics that vary from intercultural learning to peacebuilding and dealing with the past. RYCO and UNICEF will support them with equipment, licenses for programs and online learning opportunities, based on their respective needs.

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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