On Friday 25th February 2022, SCIDEV hosted the launch event of the Regional Youth Leadership Mobility Programme (RYL-MP) that was designed by the Centre for Education Policies (CEP), Serbia, and the Centre Science and Innovation for Development (SCiDEV), Albania. RYL-MP is jointly funded by the Open Society Foundation in Albania and Serbia. This program includes a range of components including capacity building and mentoring, as well as the 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 have been selected through an open call who will be part of the program of exchange, mobility, capacity development, and mentoring.
During the launch, event participants heard from representatives of the Open Society Foundation in Albania and Serbia, Center for Education Policy, Regional Youth Cooperation Office, and Western Balkan Fund.
“It is often said that young people represent the future: but it is the opportunities that are given to them today that will determine the kind of future that will be tomorrow. It is important not only to create spaces for young people but to help young people create their own spaces, create opportunities to influence decision-making, and have equal access to opportunities. The Regional Youth Leadership Mobility Program (RYL-MP) contributes towards this “- said Andi Dobrushi, Regional Coordinator for the Open Society Foundation for the Western Balkans and Executive Director of the Open Society Foundation in Albania. “Our strong recommendation remains that governments continue their investment in regional youth cooperation, which in today’s context is more important than ever,” he concluded.
“We will continue our efforts to empower young people and we intend to expand this program to other countries in the region. Young people need access and networking to be active in decision-making and cooperation is very important for breaking prejudices “- said Miodrag Milosavljević, Executive Director of the Open Society Foundation for Serbia.
To learn from other projects and initiatives and to strengthen cooperation with local and regional actors, SCiDEV welcomed representatives from the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) and the Western Balkan Fund (WBF). Ines Bulajić (ROUTE WB6 Project Coordinator) highlighted the impact of working with young people on the regional volunteer exchange program and how youth exchanges help bridge divisions and strengthen regional cooperation.
Dafina Beqiri (Senior Program Manager, WBF) underlined the importance of adapting programs to the needs and requirements of young people. “We need to inspire young people to take action and make the process easier,” she concluded.
Ivana Cenerić, (Centre for Education Policies) presented in detail the program and emphasized the capacity development of youth-focused on research for advocacy. Key features of the program are:
- 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 selected candidates (Andrijana Lazarević, Djego Abedinaj, Endrita Shehu, Ljiljana Kolarski, Marime Gjoka, Mila Vuković, Xhensila Mirashi, Xhesi Ndoka) briefly presented their motivation to join the program and their research proposal. The research topics include The perspective of the two countries on current political processes such as Open Balkan and youth approach; Activism and education; Strengthening intercultural dialogue between Albania and Serbia; Peer to peer violence in school; Youth access to cultural heritage as part of a collective memory; Youth representation in politics.
The Regional Youth Leadership Mobility Programme seeks to empower youth in Albania and Serbia in terms of their research and leadership competencies for active participation in public life and in regional cooperation. Blerjana Bino, Executive Director of SCiDEV, highlighted that “We will harness the potential of the digital tools for the capacity building and mentoring component. The program has a particular focus on evidence-based activism or data-driven advocacy which are key pillars of the work of SCiDEV and how young people can be empowered to conduct research and use the data for activism, advocacy and participation”. The program will impact youth academic and professional careers but also their personal life in terms of intercultural exchange.