ePACT ‘Teaching for Learning’ series conclude in Banja Luka

The last of the ‘Teaching for Learning’ series of seminars, specially designed for educators from across Southeast Europe, took place in Banja Luka, Republika Srpska, on 11-12 October.

The workshop was attended by 20 school teachers, directors, inspectors and members of pedagogical institutions, who were offered an opportunity to upskill their capacities by incorporating democratic principles and active learning in their teaching. Participants received training by experienced trainers of the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republika Srpska, Dijana Pešić, Tatjana Mihajlović, Slađana Vilotić, Kristijan Popović, Brane Mikanović, Marinko Savić, Zoran Bogdanović and Nina Ninković.

Mr. Predrag Damjanovic, Director of the Pedagogical Institute of the Ministry of Education and Culture, Republika Srpska addressed the participant educators an opening speech. Mr Damjanovic made a reference to the excellent cooperation between the Ministry and the CDRSEE in the preparation of this workshop, further stressing the need for more workshops of this kind to be carried out in his country.

The ‘Teaching for Learning’ Seminars were part of the activities implemented within the framework of the educational project ePACT, an initiative aimed at providing democratic education tools and promoting critical thinking and active citizenship through the introduction of new teaching and learning methodologies in the classroom. Designed to improve the quality of the teaching and learning process by internationally acclaimed and awarded Prof. Lorin Anderson, expert in classroom assessment, curriculum studies, and teacher effectiveness, the seminar scenarios created stimulating learning environments tailored to the current needs of the students and offered educators innovative tools to support their teaching.

The implementation of the seminars was the result of a close collaboration between the CDRSEE and the local Ministries of Education, that, acknowledging the significance of this initiative embraced our efforts by officially accrediting all twelve seminars. The training sessions were organised with the financial assistance of the Austrian Development Agency.

The capacity building achieved through the ‘Teaching for Learning’ Seminars will continue online, with the creation of an e-learning environment where educators from across the region will have free access to online courses that enhance knowledge-sharing and the multiplication of teachers’ competencies.  





CDRSEE with an established presence at the Civil Society Forum in Skopje

The CDRSEE was once again among the think tanks, institutions, experts and civil society representatives invited to take part in the Civil Society Forum of the Western Balkan Series, in Skopje. CDRSEE’s Executive Director Ms Zvezdana Kovac was assigned the role of moderating the agora discussion “Bridges or Walls: Macedonia and the Western Balkans in Europe” between the Prime Minister of the FYR of Macedonia Mr Zoran Zaev and Research Fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy and Assistant Professor in Comparative Politics of South East Europe at the Department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies, University of Macedonia, Dr. Ioannis Armakolas. The discussion’s focal point was interethnic relations in the region of Western Balkans and regional initiatives aimed at bridging divisions among societies.

With reference to the panel’s title Mr. Zaev stated that most of the regions politicians, citizens and CSOs are focused on building bridges. In the past year and a half, he added, his country has built bridges within itself, with Bulgaria and Greece. “No country in the Balkans, not even Greece, can not achieve progress on its own. Our country is small and will improve itself only through integration with others”, Prime Minister Zaev said. He further expressed his confidence that the Prespa Agreement will be implemented sooner or later. Professor Armakolas, on his part, agreed that enough bridges have been built between the Western Balkan states and that the Prespa Agreement, despite its unpopularity in both countries involved, is one of them. “We all have a picture of what kind of society we want to live in – a European-style one. And that is already a unifying factor”, Professor Armakolas stressed.

The panel was attended by a large number of civil society and media representatives and elicited great interest.

Following the regular edition of this year’s Civil Society Forum of the Western Balkans Summit Series that took place in London in July, an interim edition of the Forum was opened in Skopje on October 7, 2018. Entitled “Civil Society Engagement in the Berlin Process Revisited” the Forum and organized by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the European Fund for the Balkans concluded its works on October 9, 2018, after two days of compelling panel discussions that addressed topics related to the civil society’s contribution to the attainment of the of the Berlin Process goals. 


RETHINK partners meet in the Hague

Hosted by Euroclio, the 2nd RETHINK Consortium Meeting and Pedagogical Experts Meeting took place in the Hague, Netherlands from 15 to 16 September 2018. Following the successful conclusion of the project’s first phase that included the identification and collection of good practices in remembrance education, as well as the creation of an online database where institutions and educators from across Europe can access these innovative practices, Consortium partners came together to review the results of the first work package and design the array of activities of the project’s next phase.

Representatives from CIEP (Centre International d'Etudes Pedagogiques), the Shoah Memorial, Euroclio, the Living History Forum, the House of the Wannsee Conference, Kazerne Dossin, CESIE (Centro Studi e Iniziative Europeo) and the CDRSEE engaged in two extensive parallel meetings aimed at discussing the division of tasks and responsibilities of the partners and planning in detail the dissemination of the collected model practices in remembrance education. On behalf of the CDRSEE Development Officer Ms Ruth Sutton and Project Manager Ms Apostolia Gougousi attended the 2-day meeting.

The following phase of the project will entail an open call for good practices and an upscaling of these practices through model lessons conducted by the RETHINK network organisations.

If you want to join our network and read our latest news visit the RETHINK website or follow RETHINK on social media, facebook and twitter.


Skopje hosts ePACT workshops

The 10th and 11th Seminars of the ‘Teaching for Learning’ series, organised within the framework of ePACT (Education, Partnership for Advocacy, Capacity-Building  and Transformation) were successfully completed in Skopje.

The first pilot seminar that gathered school directors, curriculum developers and members of educational institutions from across the country took place on 10-11 September and the second one designed for primary and secondary education teachers from various disciplines took place on 13-14 September 2018.

Upon the guidance of distinguished trainers Ms. Violeta Petroshka-Beshka, Ms. Zaneta Chonteva and Ms. Ajse Ajrulai, participants enhanced their competencies, through mutual learning and participative activities. Hosted in hotel Arka, and organised with the support of the Bureau for Development of Education of the Ministry of Education and Science, the seminars were parallelly conducted in two languages (Makedonski and Albanian) allowing, thus, educators from both communities to embrace new teaching methods and exchange views on how to improve the quality of the teaching and the learning process in their classrooms. Participants acknowledged the value of the capacities built during the seminars in their work, expressed their satisfaction for the outcomes and requested the replication of such practices in the near future.

ePACT is a joint initiative of CDRSEE and Euroclio, implemented with the support of the Austrian Development Agency.


‘Balkan Booster 2018’ set sails from Thessaloniki

CDRSEE in collaboration with DW and RYCO, organised, within the framework of DW’s project ‘Balkan Booster’, a 3-day workshop for journalists from across Southeast Europe in Thessaloniki.

CDRSEE’s Executive Director Ms. Zvezdana Kovac introduced participants to the Joint History Project books, and emphasized on the importance of multi-perspectivity not only in the work of a historian, but also in that of a journalist. Within the ‘Balkan Booster’ project, 14 journalists from 8 different countries will adopt a multi-perspective approach in their reporting, while using the books as a guide for their story-telling.

From 26 to 29 August 2018, 14 young, talented and eager-to-learn participants from across the region of Southeast Europe attended this preparatory seminar on mobile reporting and learned how to use specific tools (equipment, applications, filming techniques) to tell stories and publish them online. DW’s Head of Europe Desk and the Western Balkans Department Ms. Adelheid Feilcke, CDRSEE’s Executive Director Ms. Zvezdana Kovac and RYCO’s Communication Officer Mr. Nikola Ristic welcomed the participants and encouraged them to utilize the skills acquired through this workshop in reporting stories that will promote the shared history and culture of the peoples of the region. Following this intensive training, participants had the opportunity to draw on the knowledge gained during the workshop in order to generate their own reports and later present their footage to their peers.

Starting from Thessaloniki, the 'Balkan Boosters' will embark on a journey to follow the traces of the common past of the Balkan peoples, based on the sources provided by the Joint History books. Stay with us for more updates on that!


Examining aspirations and perceptions across the Western Balkans: CDRSEE at the 2018 Balkan Barometer launch

On 6 July 2018, on the occasion of the launch of the 4th edition of the Balkan Barometer in Brussels, the CDRSEE joined representatives of the European Union (EU), governments, civil society, academia and regional media in a comprehensive discussion over the main findings of a survey, based on the latest examination of attitudes, experiences, aspirations, perceptions and expectations across the six economies of the SEE 2020 process.

CDRSEE’s Executive Director Ms. Zvezdana Kovac moderated the expert panel discussion on the key perception insights that followed the detailed overview of the results of the 2018 edition of the Balkan Barometer. Panelists Mr. Valdrin Lluka, Minister of Economy of Kosovo*, Mr. Hamdo Tinjak, Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Trade & Economic Relations of Bosnia & Herzegovina, Mr. Mario Holzner, Institute Deputy Director and Staff Economist at the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (WIIW), and Dr. Dusan Reljic, Head of ‘Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik’ of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) brought their input on two broad topics covered by the annual public opinion survey: What is the perception of the region on the EU accession and the EU integration support? What is the business opinion of the situation in the region and what is expected from the governments?

This year’s main findings show that satisfaction of people and businesses on the overall situation in the region, while still below average, is steadily improving. EU accession prospect perceptions among the populations are mixed, with businesses being slightly more optimistic, an indication that the region slowly regains trust in the EU integration process.

The Balkan Barometer is an initiative, first commissioned by the Regional Cooperation Council in 2014, aimed at collecting and analyzing data across a host of thematic areas, examining aspirations and perceptions of the region’s populations and its business community.

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence. 


Shaping the agenda for the future: CDRSEE at the 20th anniversary of the Symi Symposium

CDRSEE, represented by our Executive Director Ms Zvezdana Kovac was among the invitees of this year’s Symi Symposium that marked the 20th anniversary of the initiative.

Ms. Kovac took part in the panel ‘Disproving history: a new vision for the Balkans’ that discussed the challenges of regional integration alongside Marinella Koppa, Assistant Professor at the Department of International, European and Area Studies of Panteion University, Albin Kurti, Member of the Parliament of Kosovo*, and Ivan Vejvoda, IWM Senior Permanent Fellow. Zlatko Lagumdzija, former Prime Minister of Bosnia & Herzegovina was moderating the session.

Ms. Kovac made an insightful intervention on the fundamental role of education in reconciliation in the Western Balkans, which could serve as a stepping stone in the path towards EU integration. "The recent example of reconciliation between Greece and the FYR of Macedonia showed that there is potential in the Balkans, but this also showed how important the role of the international community is. The EU needs to understand that a stable Balkans is in the wider global public interest regardless of whether or not there is an obvious immediate benefit. Let us invest long term in a stable Balkans; a Balkans with strong democratic institutions and strong civil society and through this, a more stable Europe. Let us join our efforts in helping the Balkans to establish good inter-ethnic relations as a basis for peace and prosperity" she concluded.

Held in Rhodes from 1 to 6 July 2018, this annual gathering brought together leading intellectuals, politicians, entrepreneurs, diplomats, scientists and activists to discuss, in a unique informal setting, how globalization affects and shapes the ‘agenda’ for the next twenty years. Among the topics debated in the 2018 Symi Symposium were the management of population movements, the promotion of dialogue between civilizations, the rise of populism and authoritarianism and the reinvention of a progressive Europe.


CDRSEE at the 98th Rose-Roth Seminar of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly

From 27 to 29 June 2018 members of parliaments from NATO member and partner countries along with government officials, representatives from NATO and other international organisations, as well as experts from universities, think tanks and NGOs, gathered in Skopje to exchange views and conduct a constructive dialogue on matters of regional interest, within the framework of the 98th Rose-Roth Seminar of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

Our Executive Director Ms. Zvezdana Kovac was among the civil society representatives that participated in the works of the Seminar, that focused on the “Euro-Atlantic Integration of the Western Balkans: Reinforcing the European Peace Project”. Ms. Kovac was among the speakers of the Session on Interethnic Relations in the Western Balkans, moderated by Maria Martens Chairperson of the Science and Technology Committee of the NATO PA, and composed of Ilija Dimovski, Head of the Delegation of the Assembly of the FYR of Macedonia to the NATO PA, Veton Latifi, Professor of the South-East European University and Henrik Bliddal, Seminar Director of NATO PA.

In her speech Ms Kovac gave her assessment on the current situation and the possible avenues towards strengthening reconciliation efforts in the Western Balkans, at a time when the region finds itself at a crossroads in many ways. “It is necessary to work on internal reconciliation, in order to be able to realise regional reconciliation”, she stated, further, stressing that it is only through multi-perspectival education, interethnic dialogue and critical thinking that the Balkan peoples will ever manage to throw off the shackles of ethnocentrism and past divisions.

The Seminar covered a full spectrum of internal and external challenges that the accession countries and the region as a whole face, including good neighbourly relations and stability in the Western Balkans, the role of disinformation and misinformation in public discourse as well as the migration crisis and the Balkan Route.