Wednesday, April 21, 2021

United States Contributes to Primary School Renovation in Cair

The ceremony on October 6th at the Rajko Zinzifov Primary School marked one of thirteen schools renovated this summer through the USAID Interethnic Integration in Education Program (IIEP). The core objective of this program is to integrate children of various ethnic backgrounds through education and other activities. IIEP involves schools, teachers, children and parents, local leaders, and entire communities in developing interethnic relationships and in building the foundation for a better future.

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In his remarks, Jess L. Baily, United States Ambassador to the Republic of Macedonia, noted that “Newspaper headlines often focus on the divisions between people—divisions based on ethnicity or religion.  Overcoming these tensions and bridging differences is not an easy task to achieve anywhere… The students and teachers can’t do it alone. They need the support of their families, their community, and their leaders. Overcoming and healing divisions needs a concerted effort by everyone.”

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One of the core achievements of the project is that every primary and secondary school in Macedonia is now engaged in the project. Most of the municipalities, parent councils, and local communities support community-level integration activities.  Many municipalities created school integration councils and actively promote ethnic cohesion.  Additionally, the Bureau for Development of Education advisors and education inspectors at the national and regional levels are involved in achieving sustained change and capacity strengthening activities.  The project has established nearly 400 partnerships between schools through which teachers and students from schools with different languages of instruction interact.  More than 4,200 students have participated in ethnically mixed creative workshops, debate clubs, and curricular and extracurricular activities, while many more students participated in school and municipal-level sports and other joint activities.  Through the Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC), EUCOM has contributed $300,000 per year over five years to fund the renovations to participating schools. To date, 61 schools have been renovated, and two more will be renovated by December 2016.