On Wednesday 8th June 2022, the Centre for Education Policies (CEP), Serbia, hosted the final event of the Regional Youth Leadership Mobility Program (#RYLMP) in Belgrade at Impact Hub. #RYLMP was co-designed by the Centre Science and Innovation for Development (SCiDEV), Albania, and the Centre for Education Policies (CEP), Serbia and is jointly funded by the Open Society Foundation in Albania and Serbia. This program included capacity development, mentoring, and research mobility program, all of which aim not only to strengthen cooperation between Albania and Serbia but also to encourage young people to research and co-produce solutions in areas that are at the same time national and regional priorities thus becoming active participants in decision-making. 8 young men and women from Albania and Serbia selected through an open call in December 2021 completed their capacity development, mentoring, and mobility program between February and May 2022 in Tirana and Belgrade and presented their research results and advocacy action plans during the final event.
Representatives from the Open Society Foundation in Albania, North Macedonia, and of course Serbia joined the final event and highlighted the relevance of the program for regional cooperation and youth leadership. In addition, stakeholders from the EU Delegation in Serbia, RYCO Local Branch Office in Serbia, and civil society organizations as well as representatives from the Embassy of the Republic of Albania and the Embassy of the Republic of North Macedonia joined the final event.
“Young people are important for strengthening regional cooperation and these 8 young researchers are now role models and testimonials of the success of this program and can motivate other young people to do mobility in the region and thus strengthen regional cooperation”– said Miodrag Milosavljević, Executive Director of the Open Society Foundation for Serbia.
Dritan Nelaj, Programme Manager at the Open Society Foundation in Albania also stressed the importance of connecting people so as to further connect the region and the need to move from a pilot project into a program that offers regular mobility opportunities to young people. It is important as well to contemplate as well what is regional cooperation and how it impacts young people’s lives as well – he added.
Irena Radinović, Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia, highlighted the contribution of the Erasmus+ Program in the mobility of young people from Western Balkans to the EU and also the new initiatives affecting youth and funded by the EU.
Blerjana Bino, SCiDEV Executive Director, pointed out some challenges of implementing #RYLMP and achievements in terms of the impact it has made on the first cohort: the process of growth, intercultural exchange, and peer to peer support.
Ivana Cenerić and Zaklina Veselinovic (Centre for Education Policies) pointed out some of the key features of the program that add another brick to the bridge of regional cooperation:
- capacity building opportunities to youth through e-learning
- dedicated mentoring to conduct research and develop evidence-informed advocacy actions
- one month mobility in Tirana and Belgrade
- facilitation of cooperation with civil society, media, academia, and policy actors
- intercultural exchange
All young researchers: Andrijana Lazarević, Djego Abedinaj, Endrita Shehu, Ljiljana Kolarski, Marime Gjoka, Mila Vuković, Xhensila Mirashi, Xhesi Ndoka presented the results of their research including methodology and recommendations as well as advocacy plans.
The Research Summers of #RYLMP Young Researchers can be found here.