Tetovo Educators Project
Macedonia, formerly part of the country of Yugoslavia, achieved its independence without violence in 1991. However, Macedonia has a long history of tension between the majority population of Macedonian speakers and a large Albanian minority. These tensions erupted into violence in March 2001 in the predominantly Albanian region surrounding Tetovo, including hundreds of thousands of Kosovo Albanian refugees, as fighters from neighboring Kosovo crossed the border and inflamed long-held grievances of the Albanian community. A civil war was forestalled when the international community pressured the Macedonian government to reform the constitution, guaranteeing equal rights for minority groups.
The Tetovo Educators Project built bridges of trust between Macedonian and Albanian educators in the divided city of Tetovo and supported educational projects that brought together students and communities that had become separated by enmity and prejudices.
From 2002-04, Karuna Center staff led eight seminars for 50 Albanian and Macedonian educators, teachers and administrators from both primary and secondary schools. First separately and then together, the educators explored their perceptions of each other and their history, They were trained in dialogue skills, learned to manage conflicts between them creatively, and developed strategies to promote tolerance and co-existence. The teachers then co-led projects to bring together students and parents of mixed ethnicity both at school and in the wider community, including the smaller minority groups of Roma and Turks.
Students cooperated in televised “student parliaments” during which multi-ethnic teams debated issues of common concern; collaborated as multi-ethnic teams to display their school projects, participated in regional and national competitions; developed environmental programs in their neighborhoods; celebrated each other’s holidays and customs; and published multi-lingual school newspapers in schools.
Through the courage and commitments of these educators, teachers and parents became involved in the work of rebuilding trust in Tetovo. The Tetovo Educators Project culminated with a Training of Trainers Program, where 24 selected educators received advanced training in order to replicate and multiply the project’s goals throughout the school system.
Promoting Ethnic Tolerance and Cultural Inclusion in Macedonia: The Tetovo Educators Project by Paula Green and Olivia Stokes Dreier (2005) - Building Peace - Chapter 14