CENTER FOR DEMOCRACY AND RECONCILIATION IN SOUTHEAST EUROPE

News

12May

CDRSEE At International Symposium Commemorating The First World War In Zagreb

 

Three CDRSEE members and affiliates actively participated at the International Symposium, "Commemorating 1914: Exploring the War's Legacy". The Symposium took place on May 5th and 6th at the Croatian State Archives in Zagreb and was organised by the EUNIC network in scientific partnership with the historians of Zagreb University and the Youth Initiative for Human Rights and Documenta NGOs.

The Symposium gathered 25 historians from throughout Europe to assess the power of history as a means to consolidate peace and reconciliation. A century after the first world wide conflict, memories are bleak as to how the war affected nations' memories. The Symposium opened debate and encouraged discussion on how the war shaped Croatia's destiny and that of her neighbours. In particular, it focused on the confrontation of memories, the representation and account of the conflict, the post First World War process of reconciliation, and the memory of the war in the context of building a new Europe.

Snjezana Koren, a professor of history didactics at the History Department of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Zagreb, spoke on the third session of the Symposium, The European War and Reconciliation Issues in the 20th Century. She spoke of the challenges and obstacles of teaching the First World War in Croatia. In particular, she addressed the difficulty of distinguishing whether the war was one of heroes or one of the defeated and how interpretations and memories have confounded those beliefs. Among the key points in her talk was her illustration of the ways in which history teaching can be abused for pseudo-patriotic purposes and current regime interests.

Neven Budak, a historian at the University of Zagreb, graciously shared photographs from his personal collection. The exhibition, Croatians during the First World War, was presented at the Library of the French Institute in Zagreb from April 28th - May 15th.

Nenad Sebek, Executive director of the CDRSEE, spoke on one of the closing sessions addressing memory and history of the war. He presented the Center's Joint History Project and how this unique regional collaboration amongst historians was able to reform history teaching and utilize its outcomes for spurring reconciliation amongst people in the region.

17Apr

EFB supported Fellowship programme kick-off

 

CDRSEE partner The European Fund for the Balkans kicked off its fellowship programme, sending 20 government officials, expenses paid, to other state institutions to work and learn for three months.

The 20 officials received full scholarships under the EFB project, “Fellowship Programme for Young Government Officials from the Western Balkans: Supporting Excellence and Leadership in Governance”. They will work and learn at state institutions in Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, the Netherlands and Poland.

This is the sixth generation of fellows supported by the EFB. They gathered for the Introductory Seminar, which took place in Potsdam, Germany, from April 4 to April 12, 2014. The eight-day seminar offered the participants cutting-edge knowledge of and experience in the administrative and political developments and dynamics. The fellows had the chance to discuss their plans for their fellowship, receive individual advice, present their professional and personal goals and prepare themselves for the fellowship programme.

CDRSEE Executive Director Nenad Sebek joined the seminar as a facilitator of the final workshop: Country Presentations “Selling my country to the European Union”. The training was organized together with Bernd-Friedrich Voigt (Dipl.-Psych), founder and owner of Managing Organizations, an international consulting company operating in the field of business psychology. This workshop was dedicated to improving participants’ presentation skills and techniques with a special focus on the presentations of their countries. The session was an excellent opportunity for fellows to test their presentation skills and receive direct feedback from the two facilitators and other members of the group. The second part of the day was dedicated to discussing the EU accession issues and challenges of each Western Balkan country, by analysing how the countries are typically presented (or present themselves). The main issues were discussed in groups, and then conclusions and recommendations for further action were presented as a successful wrap-up of the session.

The fellows have now entered the second traineeship phase where they will have an opportunity to practice the skills gained at the first seminar. The programme will conclud with the final seminar at the end of June in Brussels and Bruges, when the participants will be given an opportunity to meet high-ranking officials of European Institutions, learn about the current developments in Europe and receive training on leadership and change management.

For more information on the programme, please click here: http://balkanfund.org/programme-areas/practicing-europe/fellowship-programme-for-young-government-officials-from-western-balkans-supporting-excellence-and-leadership-in-governance/

07Apr

Serbia's Education Magazine on Teaching for Learning

Educational Review (Prosvetni Pregled)
April 3, 2014 - #2613

Book Presentation Teaching for Learning: The Teacher Ought to Learn as Well

This spring, teachers from Serbia and other Western Balkan countries were the beneficiaries of an exceptional learning assistance manual that ought to make their lives a whole lot easier.

The Manual, Teaching for Learning, is a byproduct of a group of authors confronted with tackling elemental challenges to the institutional process of learning. Several authors contributed to the publishing of this book, and one of them from across the ocean, Professor Lorin W. Anderson. Professor Anderson is one of the most highly accomplished experts in this particular field and is responsible for the coordination of this project amongst his colleagues. One of the most important aspects of this project, notes Nenad Sebek of the CDRSEE – the project’s implementing organization, is that ideas and concepts from Washington, Oslo, or Tokyo are not merely being transported to our mountainous Balkans. Instead, all aspects of this project are made in the Balkans for the Balkans.

Teaching for Learning Evaluation Takes Place in Belgrade
Teaching for Learning Evaluation Takes Place in Belgrade
 

This project was implemented by renowned intellectuals from the region’s schools and higher learning institutions. The CDRSEE is the only institution that has accomplished a similar level of collaboration of this sort from a previous project. Through the Joint History Project, the CDRSEE has already exported an established model of education reform to places as far as Japan where the project’s workbooks have been translated. Nenad Sebek is hopeful that such a feat will be replicated in the case of this Manual.

Professor Ivan Ivic, while having a slightly pessimistic opinion towards the success of IPA projects, gave praise to the Manual, emphasizing its accomplishments in shifting the focus from teaching to learning. He goes on to say that with that in mind, this Manual is bringing forth something entirely new for the majority of our schools and teachers. In our region, we still value teaching over learning, and this book is a step in the right direction in changing that mentality. He points out that the authors of this book, apart from Professor Lorin Anderson, are amongst the most highly regarded experts from the region. In his opinion, utilizing local talent is not only the best use of available resources, but the most efficient means of achieving progress and instigating change amongst those involved in this project.

Dr. Marko Suica, a renowned historian, believes that the Manual will not have significant challenges in being adapted in schools and colleges. “Every teacher should have a copy of the Manual in their library because it emphasizes active learning,” notes Dr. Suica. The Manual is exceptional because it challenges the traditional notion of teaching, learning to acquire knowledge. In that respect, this Manual surpasses the confined group of teachers and actively includes all those involved in the process of education, notes Suica.

Development expert, Ljiljana Levkov, in particular singles out the suggestions that the Manual offers, which not only serve as a side note from the entire story but are placed in such a way that they emphasize some of the focal points of the Manual. Additionally, it is highly beneficial that the Manual offers teachers a whole set of tools that can serve as a model approach for learning. When contrasting the Manual with some of the development work that she is involved in, Ms. Levkov is astonished by the similarities. A key element in the text is preparing students to be successful and capable of learning. Those of use working on projects of development focus our efforts on enhancing the capacities of teachers to improve learning competencies. In contrast, the Manual address those involved in the process of education, and we address the medium of education. Both are important as education involves multiple aspects and diverse contextual bases. Both approaches consider the school to be the environment that facilitates the process of learning, and consider education a process and not a means of memorization. Ms. Levkov has a message to teachers: “be someone that learns! Only the ones that learn themselves can teach others.”

The co-author of the Manual, Ana Pesikan was delighted by the approach of Professor Lorin Anderson towards the composition of this Manual. One of the biggest surprises, according to her, was the amount of detail and close attention that Professor Anderson displayed in working with the local team. As a person who has worked with teachers over the course of his career, he understood what it meant to listen to others and it is that trend that remained constant throughout this project.  She goes on to note that it was a great compliment that Professor Anderson choose to adopt a model of active learning that was then developed amongst Professor Ivan Ivic, Slobodanka Antic, and herself.

Teaching for Learning Evaluation Takes Place in Belgrade
Teaching for Learning Evaluation Takes Place in Belgrade
 

Ana Pesikan believes that the Manual is not solely for teachers and school directors, but that is has a much wider context for use. The book itself can only go so far. For it to realize its wide potential, it would have to be preceded by a user’s training session. The problem is that such activities are not common in Serbia. She points out that the majority of her colleagues already use the book, but as Biljana Stojanovic of the Ministry of Education points out, “Teaching for Learning is a Manual that all schools ought to posses, but not for it to sit on shelves yet for it to be read and implemented."

This Manual was published by the Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in South East Europe. Nenad Sebek, the centre’s executive director, goes on to point out that common assumptions of civil society do not apply here:

Non-governmental-organizations in our region are still bogged down with a negative connotation, as a sort of marginal actors that collaborate with the enemy, or foreigners. No, that is not what we are about. We are not the nineties concept of civil society either, a time when the civil society sector served as the opposition to the government because there really wasn’t one that existed. In today’s world, if governments want to achieve something they must act together with civil society. On the contrary, if civil society wants to achieve something they must in turn work with governments. In that respect, I have to say that it is a pleasure that we have obtained such successful collaboration with the Ministry of Education on this project.”

An Exceptional Manual

The book has had glowing review by educators even before its launch.

“The Manual is interesting, readable, and coherent. It includes experts from throughout the region and builds on the developments of different education systems.”

“The Manual is fantastic, inspirational, and allows for the implementation of new ideas. Congratulations to the authors!”

“This approach gives the teacher more freedom to operate and the capacity to creatively organize the education process.”

“We will finally have a script for the classroom. That was what we needed all along.”

Opening Insight

“This collaboration has resulted in a systematic and coherent collection of suggestions for teaching with tools to overcome challenges that all institutional educational processes embody. These challenges come from within, but also from other outside factors. They are evidenced by financial restrictions, the loss of interest and values and the fact that success does not come solely from merit. These aspects accumulate and create a challenging environment for teaching that impacts motivation for teacher and students alike.”

Folders and Suggestions

The Manual is primarily designed for teachers and school directors, but also to all other actors in the educational process. It is the result of international collaboration and collective work of educational reformers. It is envisioned to be a collection of old folders that each bare a name: Teaching that Spurns Change, Education and Learning in Modern Democratic Societies, The Environment for Learning, Goals of Learning, Teaching, Resources for Learning, Grading and Curricular Structures. The Manual’s concluding portions offer practical examples, a glossary, and an overall summary. The suggestions in the Manual are of exceptional value, and after each suggestion examples of how to implement those suggestions in the classroom are offered.  

- Nebojsa Bugarinovic

04Apr

Evaluation Workshops Rolled Out Across the Region

Next to facilitating evaluation sessions of the Teaching for Learning Manual: A reference guide for results-oriented teachers in Belgrade, the CDRSEE, in cooperation with the respective Ministries of Education, implemented five evaluation workshops across the region. The workshops took place on February 14th in Podgorica, February 22nd in Tirana, March 7th in Skopje, March 28th in Pristina, and March 29th in Sarajevo.

The workshops were highly productive in opening discussion on the manual and acquiring much needed feedback on in its impact, effectiveness, and best practices for use. Teachers, inspectors, pedagogical faculty staff, association members, and ministry personnel were among those that contributed to the highly diverse evaluation of the manual. The workshop in Skopje addressed issues of contextual changes that translation of the book has instigated. It brought to light the importance of terminology and the nuances of language distinctions across the region, as well as contrast with the manual’s language of origin, English. Amongst the conclusion from the workshop in Tirana was the enhanced benefit that the use of learning resources offers. In particular, the workshop’s attendees emphasized that the manual’s impact was significantly enhanced when utilized with visual tools such as smart tables, televisions, flip charts, projectors, and even simple chalkboards. The workshops in Podgorica, about which you can read more about here, offered several useful suggestions that can enhance the impact of the manual. One of the suggestions brought up the notion of replicating best practices and modelling the teachers who utilized the manual most effectively. These suggestions, along with other ideas and inputs from the workshops, have been highly welcome by the CDRSEE and the relevant Ministry staff who oversee the manual’s rollout in schools and amongst teachers.

Next to offering suggestions and raising the manual’s profile, the predominant feedback from the workshops has been highly positive. Participants most often praised the manual, and in particular its ease of use, coherent structure, and the valuable suggestions it offers in improving teaching methods. Collectively, they have been an ideal launch of the manual across the region and have set forth high goals in reforming teaching methods and education practices.

04Apr

Teaching for Learning Evaluation Takes Place in Belgrade

 

The CDRSEE in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia facilitated an evaluation session of the Teaching for Learning Manual: A reference guide for results-oriented teachers. The event took place in Belgrade on April 1st in the facilities of the Primary School, Vladislav Ribnikar. Approximately forty guests who have been or will be beneficiaries of the manual attended the event. The guest included relevant university professors, select primary school teachers and directors, advisors to the Ministry, and researchers in the field of education reform. The event was be moderated by Biljana Stojanovic, Ministry of Education, while the CDRSEE’s Nenad Sebek and the school director, Snezana Knezevic gave the opening remarks.

Ana Pešikan, co-author of the manual, fellow professors Dr. Ivan Ivić and Dr. Marko Šuica, and Dr. Ljiljana Levkov, coordinator on the project, Supporting Education Development and Research, provided valuable insight on the usefulness of the manual. Dr. Šuica spoke on the various methods of history education and the critical need for the manual to be included in compulsory education, while Dr. Levkov emphasized how the manual has contributed to education reform. Several useful suggestions were gained from the panel’s commentary and the project team will take those in stride as teacher trainings and other activities in relation to the manual continue to take place. Following the presentations, the attending guests engaged in an open dialogue to further discuss the benefits and best practices of utilizing the manual.

02Apr

2nd Teacher Training Workshop in Kosovo

 

March 29 - 30, Peja - In the city of Peja near the Rugova mountains, the 2nd Kosovar Teacher-Training Workshop took place. Twenty-one teachers from the Peja District gathered at the Dukagjini Hotel for two days of training on 29-30/03/2014. They were introduced by the trainers to new methodologies of history teaching and also to successful ways to use the Joint History Project workbooks. Prof. Frasher Demaj, Mr Afrim Balaj and Mr Besim Halit were the trainers for the workshop who engaged the attending teachers in active participation and stimulating discussions.

 

 

01Apr

CDRSEE presented the Joint History Project at an educational focal point meeting in The Hague

THE HAGUE, 27 March 2014 – The CDRSEE played a major role in an educational focal point meeting in The Hague, talking about “Teaching History in Ethnically Divided Societies” and presenting the Center’s flagship programme, the Joint History Project.

The event was sponsored by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s High Commissioner on National Minorities. It was an all-day event, and many sub-topics were covered, with the objective of highlighting the role of history education in the conflict cycle and its relevance to the OSCE’s mandate.

Specifically, CDRSEE Executive Director Nenad Sebek spoke on the role of history education in reconciliation processes, including CDRSEE’s participatory approach as a means towards reconciliation and the concept of promoting multiple interpretations of historical events. This is something with which the CDRSEE has extensive experience through the JHP. A case study of the JHP was presented to attendees, including good and bad practices in developing commonly accepted history curricula, and experiences with gaining support of education ministries and governments, as well as measuring tangible achievements.

The CDRSEE was one of a number of experienced groups presenting at the conference. Eckhardt Fuchs of the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research also provided important insights.

The result of the conference was the mapping of the OSCE’s 2014 education activities in Southeast Europe, as well as the establishment of several points to follow up on at the next conference.

31Mar

CDRSEE at an international history perspectives conference in Vienna

Vienna, 20 - 24 March - CDRSEE’s Corinna Noack-Aetopulos as well as two members of our History Education Committee, Snjezana Koren and Dubravka Stojanovic, were invited to speak at an international history perspectives conference in Vienna.

The conference, which gathered academics, researchers and educators from around the world from March 20 to 22, 2014, was entitled “The First World War in Central European Memory -- Trans/national Perspectives, European Contexts”.

Ms. Noack-Aetopulos, CDRSEE’s Programmes Director, presented the CDRSEE’s flagship project, the Joint History Project, which was specifically included as a “Good Example” of Transnational History Projects.

The conference also included discussions on national narratives and current educational approaches. Dr. Stojanovic, also of University of Belgrade, was a guest in the discussion on “The First World War in Central European Memory: Perspectives on the Years 1914–1918: Hungary, Austria and Serbia”.  Dr. Stojanovic also moderated a working group on education approaches in the classroom.

Dr. Koren, also of the University of Zagreb, moderated a working group on Transnational Projects/Perspectives, and Ms. Noack-Aetopulos was the Rapporteur for the group.