The Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe has signed a 600,000 Euro contract with the European Union, enabling the CDRSEE to move ahead with one of the most important projects in its 16-year history and sealing the future of its flagship Joint History Project.
The new contract, under the European Commission’s EuropeAid, allows the JHP to embark on the next, most challenging but critically important stage of the programme. It will provide major funding for the research, writing and publication of two new history workbooks covering the Cold War and the period of transition in Southeast Europe, including the Wars of the 1990s. It is a project that has been on the minds of the CDRSEE and the programme’s History Education Committee for many years, and it can now finally become a reality.
The Ministries of Education of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo* and Serbia are associates in the new project. And the Swiss foundation Pro Victimis has also provided a grant of 36,000 Euro.
The JHP is a history education programme that provides multi-perspective history workbooks and training for teachers, in order to foster reconciliation and an understanding of history from many viewpoints. The JHP currently has four workbooks in 11 languages, and has trained more than 2,000 teachers on tailoring the coursework to their curricula.
The new phase will begin immediately and run for 24 months, culminating with the publication of the two workbooks. The JHP hopes to reach out to 7,000 teachers through online dissemination of the material. The new phase also includes direct training of teachers via teacher-training sessions, and other guidance through training of trainers conferences and teacher association workshops and activities.
The JHP, over the years, has developed close working relationships with most of the region’s Ministries of Education and Teacher Associations. JHP workbooks are currently in use in the Western Balkans, and some half a million students so far have been touched by the JHP over the years.
In addition to the Ministries of Education of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo* and Serbia, other associates in the new project include the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research and EUROCLIO, the European Association of History Educators. Partners include the history teacher associations of Albania, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia, the Film Festival Pravo Ljudske in Bosnia, the Kosovo Education Center and the Association for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
These relationships will be critical in this new phase of the JHP, which is arguably the most important, and certainly the most challenging. In particular, the books will cover 60 years of recent history and will also address the devastating wars of the 1990s, which are still fresh and painful for many of the teachers, their students and their families.
The workbooks, the foundation of the program, will be published in October 2016. The new titles, “Cold War” and a volume on “Transition in Southeast Europe”, will be written and edited by the CDRSEE’s History Education Committee, a group of more than a dozen esteemed historians from this region, including JHP Supervisor Mr. Costas Carras and Committee Chair Prof. Chrstina Koulouri. The entire HEC is dedicated to the concept that showing various perspectives to events that are oftentimes taught from a one-sided point of view will help foster critical thinking, understanding and reconciliation in the region.
* 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.