The Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Ambassador Michael Davenport, and the President of the Coordination Body for Preševo, Bujanovac and Medveđa, Zoran Stanković, talked today at the primary school "Naim Frashëri" in Bujanovac with pupils from the Albanian community who participated in the project aimed at improving the command of Serbian as a non-mother tongue. The project has been financially supported by the European Union and the Government of Switzerland through the development program European PROGRES in partnership with the Coordination Body for Preševo, Bujanovac and Medveđa.
"You and I have something in common, and that is the fact that Serbian is not our mother tongue, and that we are learning it. I am glad to hear that you have achieved very good results during the project and in competitions, and in the course of today's visit we will actually have an opportunity to see what we have done so far to advance education," said Davenport during his visit to the school.
"I would like to also underline the importance of the fact that a department of the Faculty of Economics from Subotica successfully functions in Bujanovac, and young Serbs, Albanians and Roma from Bujanovac and other municipalities in the south have an opportunity to study at the faculty with an accredited curriculum in accordance with European standards," Davenport added.
Ambassador Davenport expressed in Albanian his best wishes to pupils for success in their future work and studying, and they showed him the progress they had made in mastering the Serbian language.
The primary school "Naim Frashëri" is one of four primary schools in the municipalities of Bujanovac and Preševo where Serbian language teachers have teacher assistants with whom they jointly work on raising the level of knowledge of Serbian as a non-mother tongue among children from the Albanian community. The European Union and the Government of Switzerland, through European PROGRES, also supported the procurement of textbooks and other necessary teaching materials.
"For the first time, we have organized school competitions for pupils learning Serbian as a second language, and more than 30 pupils from the area of Bujanovac and Preševo participated in the Republican contest in Novi Sad and spent time socializing with their peers from Vojvodina," said Zoran Stanković, President of the Coordination Body for Preševo, Bujanovac and Medveđa, and added that it was planned for this project to continue.
During his visit to Bujanovac, Ambassador Davenport participated in the meeting of the Stakeholders’ Committee for the Department of the Subotica Faculty of Economics in Bujanovac project, and the message from this Committee’s meeting is that the focus of the future work will be on enhancing the employability of graduates.
Ambassador Davenport said that he was proud of the fact that the European Union, together with the Government of Switzerland, through the European PROGRES development program, supported the construction of this university facility in line with the highest European standards, and that at the moment there were nearly 400 students attending courses. The Department offers three accredited study programs: Finance, Banking and Insurance, Marketing, and Agribusiness and Agricultural Economics. The curricula at the faculty is taught in two languages, Serbian and Albanian, which makes this Faculty a unique institution in South Serbia.
Head of the EU Delegation Michael Davenport also visited a joint student cooperative of two high schools in Bujanovac, "Sveti Sava" and "Sezai Surroi", which was established through the project for interethnic cooperation, which was financially supported by the European Union and the Swiss Government. The students of these two schools jointly write and print a bilingual magazine, make and sell souvenirs and in such a manner, they overcome the inter-ethnic distance.
Congratulating all the participants in the project on the results achieved, Ambassador Davenport pointed out that this project provided an opportunity to young people to work and spend time together, thus bridging the differences.
Davenport also met with the newly elected Mayors of Bujanovac and Preševo, Saip Kamberi and Sciprim Arifi respectively, as well as with the President of the Coordination Body for Preševo, Bujanovac and Medveđa, Zoran Stanković. Ambassador Davenport underscored the EU's commitment to the development of these municipalities and called on the local authorities to continue working with dedication on the implementation of projects that contribute to improving the quality of life of the population, which are implemented by the European PROGRES, the largest development program in Serbia financially supported by the European Union and the Government of Switzerland.