CENTER FOR DEMOCRACY AND RECONCILIATION IN SOUTHEAST EUROPE

News

22May

Mostar hosts ePACT workshop

Continuing our successful series of workshops with educators across Southeast Europe, our first ePACT workshop in Bosnia and Herzegovina took place in Mostar on 17-18 May, hosted in the Culture Center and with the support of the Federal Ministry of Education and Science.  ePACT offers teachers, school directors and school inspectors an opportunity to upskill their capacities in learner-centred, participative education methods with the aim of reforming education systems across the region.  Under the guidance of two experienced trainers, Mr. Ismet Strujo,  Assistant Minister of Preschool, Elementary and Secondary School Education and Ms. Đenana Gološ,  Research Associate for Cooperation and Projects in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Education at the Ministry of Education, educators from across the country participated in the two day workshop of activities, discussion and mutual learning. 

22May

Presentation of JHP at Club 44

With our Joint History Project setting the benchmark for history education not only in Southeast Europe, but also in the EU, two of the driving forces of the JHP presented the project on 11 March at a conference by Club 44 in Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.  History Education Committee Chair, Professor Christina Koulouri and Vice-Chair Professor Dubravka Stojanović spoke about the JHP at the symposium  entitled ‘Constructing a Common History: The Balkans as a laboratory of resilience’  (Construire une Histoire Commune: Les Balkans comme laboratoire de resilience). In the discussion moderated by Jean-François Berger, delegate of the ICRC in the Balkans, the two historians stressed the importance of the methodology and the multi-perspective approach adopted in the writing of the common history books in developing empathy and dispelling long-standing prejudices among the peoples of the region.

The presentation of the JHP elicited great interest among the participants about how a team of historians is succeeding in creating a path to a common future of peace and reconciliation, via common history education.You can watch and/or hear the whole discussion in the following link:http://www.club-44.ch/index.php?a=7&search=3&recent=6&archive=224198

05Apr

ePACT trainings continue in Niš, Serbia

After the successful completion of the ‘Teaching for Learning’ workshop in Belgrade last weekend, the ePACT team, together with the trainers from the Serbian Ministry of Education, traveled to Niš in southern Serbia to implement the second pilot training session, within the framework of ePACT.

Mr. Dragan Gejo, Head of the Regional School Department, opened the two day training workshop and highlighted the importance of such initiatives that help teachers improve their skills and familiarise themselves with new methodologies.

The 24 educators who participated in the workshops came from all over the region and were teachers of a range of subjects at different levels within the school system. Additionally there were also some school directors who took part. All of the participants expressed a wish to see more workshops like this taking place, and even suggested that all schools should carry out such types of training sessions.

02Apr

Assistant Minister of Education opens ePACT workshop in Belgrade

The opening speech of Mr Aleksandar Pajić, assistant Minister of Education in Serbia, strongly confirmed the excellent cooperation between the Ministries of Education in the six target countries within which the ePACT project is implemented and the two operating organizations - CDRSEE and Euroclio. Ms Kovac, Executive Director of CDRSEE, also highlighted that cooperation between the state authorities and the civil society organizations can benefit society as a whole more effectively than when they operate separately. Additionally, in her opening remarks Ms Biljana Stojanovic, Head of Group for Planning and Programming Projects from the Ministry of Education mentioned the importance of such workshops for the improvement of the teachers skills and their training on new methodologies.

The 21 educators that participated in the training were comprised of teachers of elementary and secondary schools of both natural and social sciences, as well as school directors and inspectors. The team of trainers that participated in the two full-day Teaching for Learning workshop were Ms Stojanovic, Ms Jasminka Marković from the Center for Educational Policy and Ms Levkov - one of the Ministry’s most experienced trainers.  At the end of the workshops a positive feedback was received and some participants expressed their desire for follow-up trainings of the same high standard as this workshop.

28Mar

The CDRSEE at the EIB in Luxembourg – Countering Extremism

At a seminar organized for the CDRSEE in Luxembourg by the European Investment Bank (EIB) together with the EIB Institute on 23 March, our Executive Director Zvezdana Kovac raised the problems the Western Balkans faces once again and how it needs the EU now more than ever to counter extremism and deal with the refugee problem.

The presentation of the CDRSEE’s projects – out of the ordinary for an EIB audience of 70 people used to seminars of a more financial and economic nature -  triggered much enthusiasm and interest on how promoting tolerance and discussion in Southeast Europe can ease tensions and counter extremism.

21Mar

Two ePACT trainings conducted, and more to come!

Positive feedback has been received by both the participants and trainers of the two workshops organized under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in Kosovo. After successfully completing two trainings in Montenegro in December 2016 - ePACT, a project co-organised by the CDRSEE and Euroclio with the support of the Austrian Development Agency, implemented another two “Teaching for Learning” workshops in Kosovo.

The trainers, Ms Igballe Cakaj, Head of the Ministry’s Division for Teachers Professional Development and Mr Milazim Avdylaj, teacher and accredited trainer were impressed by the materials and the new methodologies and informed us that they were also well received by the trainees. Additionally, according to the participants, the student-centered approach of the method and its basis of educating democratic principles - fits perfectly with the new revised curricula introduced earlier this year in Kosovo and facilitates the transition phase from the old to the new reformed system. Moreover, as the two groups participating in the workshops were comprised of natural science teachers, Ms Cakaj expressed her desire to conduct more trainings with social science teachers in Autumn, if possible.

The first workshop took place on 10-11/03 with 24 teachers and 4 school directors participating and the second one on 12-13/03 which gathered 23 participants.

The next stop for ePACT workshops will be in Belgrade on 31/03 – 01/04 and followed by another workshop in Nis 03-04/04.

09Feb

Exploring Communities in Greece

Making up over 56% of the total migrant population, the Albanian community is the single largest group of migrants in Greece, and one that has experienced both struggles and solidarity in settling and integrating in the country.

The project ‘Communities in Greece’ is a research initiative, carried out by the CDRSEE and a team of academics and researchers from Athens and Thessaloniki. The aims were to document and highlight the experiences of the Albanian community in Greece, with a view to finding practical ways to ameliorate the problems they face and also to share best practice and celebrate successes. 

Presented to the public of Thessaloniki on February 7, the research was outlined by the authors and the event was moderated by the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the CDRSEE, Mr Nikos Efhtymiadis.  Attending the event were a number of the research participants as well as the Consuls of Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The overall findings of the research reveal that while progress has been made over the past two decades in terms of acceptance and integration of Albanians in Greece, there are still obstacles to full social, legal, economic and political participation for many, including those who have been living in the country for 3 decades and those who are second generation.  The obstacles most frequently noted by the respondents are the following: legalisation, acquisition of citizenship by first and second generation immigrants and the assertion of social and welfare rights.

The event included a lively exploration of not only the research, but also the issues surrounding migration. Immigration is often regarded as a problem in Greece whereby foreigners are viewed as ‘the others’, instead of as people with common traits, Mr. Efthymiadis pointed out.  Dr Manos added that one of their findings identified that immigration is perceived in a negative manner in countries where there is a very high level of national homogeneity in terms of language, ethnicity and religion leading it to being viewed as ‘damaging’ to the identity of the nation. This perception is greatly heightened during a financial crisis. The discussion between the panel and those actively participating ended with the general conclusion that immigration is not a ‘problem’ but a phenomenon.

The research was an opportunity for Albanian immigrants to describe in their own words, their experience, perceptions and general opinion on life in Greece, immigration and identity. The aim of the research itself was to document the complex issues of integration from the points of view of the Albanian and Greek community and to identify areas that were in need of improvement. The innovative style of this pioneering research focused on enabling subject voices to be ‘heard’ and its findings disseminated to decision-makers, state and municipal civil service personnel and community organisations in order to improve integration.

The project was funded by Foundation Open Society Institute in cooperation with the OSIFE of the Open Society Foundations.  The research team was led by Dr Ioannis Manos (Assistant Professor in Social Anthropology Department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies, University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki) and was composed of Dr Dora Papadopoulou (Social Researcher, PhD in Sociology); Ms Vassiliki Makrygianni (Researcher, PhD Candidate in Architecture (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki)); and Mr Konstantinos Kolovos Social Researcher, Anthropologist.

The report on the research findings is available for download in Greek (http://cdrsee.org/sites/default/files/Communities%20in%20Greece_GR.pdf), and in English and Albanian will be available by the end of the month.

24Jan

Joint History Project - a good investment for EU funds in education

2017 kicked-off with another two regional launches of the new JHP workbooks in Zagreb on 17 January and in Sarajevo on 19 January.

With an audience consisting of members of the Diplomatic Core, International Organisations, CSOs, NGOs and history teachers, the two new JHP volumes were presented in Sarajevo. After introducing the books as a tool for students to sharpen their critical thinking skills thereby preparing them to become future active citizens who use dialogue in order to avoid future conflicts, Ms Zvezdana Kovac, Executive Director of CDRSEE gave the floor to panelists who began a fruitful discussion: “History should not be in the hands of politicians and teachers should be supported given their difficult task of teaching the recent past in a balanced and fair way”, said Ms Mirella Rašić, Head of the team for Political reporting and Policy Analysis from the European Commission Representation in Croatia. Mr Hannes Swoboda, Chair of the Board of Directors of CDRSEE, highlighted the importance of the workbooks in promoting dialogue on this period, while Prof. Neven Budak, University of Zagreb, Member of the History Education Committee of the CDRSEE and co-editor of the new JHP Workbooks, characterized the project as a peace initiative that doesn’t aim to relativize history but to promote critical thinking among students and the general public. Mr Krešimir Erdelja, Secretary of the Croatian Association of History Teachers – HUNP, spoke of the beneficial cooperation between the HUNP and the CDRSEE that made it possible for eight workshops to be implemented in Croatia and a regional conference to be organized in Vukovar.

At a symbolic venue - the History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo - the launch of the new workbooks took place in a room packed with journalists, members of many international and civil society organizations, diplomats and teachers. Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, Head of the EU Delegation to BiH and EU Special Representative, reminded the audience that the people of the region have much more in common than they believe and that all stakeholders should provide more support for the next stage of the project, in particular, support for the translations of the workbooks into the local languages and support for the training of teachers. Dr Katz, Senior Research Fellow in the Institute for History University of Sarajevo and Source Committee Member, praised the team spirit that prevailed among those who produced the books and stressed its importance in overcoming difficulties. Mr Ibričić, History Teacher and Source Contributor, highlighted the importance of the regional JHP workshops organized by the CDRSEE given how they improve the skills of teachers and provides them with the opportunity to interact with counterparts from other countries in the region. Mr Tuzlić, Journalist and Coordinator for Joint History Project in BiH, expressed his appreciation of being a member of the JHP since its inception and urged all stakeholders to support the project given its potential in making a difference for future generations in Bosnia and throughout Southeast Europe. Lastly Ms Kovac, after providing a brief background on the JHP, expressed the importance of the Ministry of Education’s support and cooperation and how these are both indispensable for the running of the project.