The three-month school is an opportunity to bring together locals of different ethnicities to learn about the EU and promote Kosovo's EU integration.
By Muhamet Brajshori for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 19/09/12
The European Integration School is increasingly focusing and seeking minority, primarily Serb, participants. [Laura Hasani/SETimes]
The Kosovo Civil Society Foundation (KCSF) established the School for European Integration in 2005 to enhance knowledge about the EU as well as integration processes within Kosovo's society.
Since then, 820 people from diverse fields ranging from public administration to civil society and media, business, professional and international organisations in Kosovo, have attended the three-month programme.
Its strength lies in offering people of different backgrounds the opportunity to exchange views and get acquainted with one another, according to Fatmir Curri, program co-ordinator at the foundation, who is involved in the school project since its inception.
"By being involved in discussions, the participants facilitate active dialogue and close communication with other participants," Curri told SETimes.
Curri said a common thread connecting school participants is the desire to learn about the EU and to advance Kosovo's EU integration.
"Knowledge of the EU provides a good lesson for co-existence and the functioning of society. We offer an inclusive rather than exclusive environment, and then it is left to human nature to make the most out of life," Curri said.
While some participants have been members of the Kosovo minorities, primarily Serbs, the foundation officials said they are eager to increase the number of participating minorities.
"Those who have participated are, normally, very well integrated within the group. However, we would like to have many more minority applications. … It seems minorities feel better in organised training modules specifically for them," Curri said.
What participants say they find particularly useful is learning about experiences in the EU, which have led to overcoming ethnic tensions.
"Activities such as this school which promote the values and importance of European integration, have a key role in the further development of cohabitation in the community and in building inter-ethnic relations," Granit Ternava, a school participant who holds a Bachelor's degree in political science, told SETimes.
Curri said that beyond the ethnic component, the school will begin implementing a new programme with one basic and one advanced module in order to respond to the need to include more professionals.
"The overall goal of the school is to prepare future leaders to understand the challenges of European integration," Curri said.
Dragana Trajkovic, 23, an economics student from Gracanica who is a Serb, said she is interested in activities where Serbs and Albanians interact more readily and learn beginning from neutral topics.
"Issues like the economy help understanding the problems and challenges each of us faces and so bridges can be built among us," Trajkovic told SETimes.
Aca Aleksandrijevic, 18, also from Gracanica, said he took part in precisely such activities.
"In Gnjilane, or here in Gracanica, several times we participated in activities where we could meet Albanians, but because we do not go to same schools, for various reasons it is difficult to have something more than those activities," Aleksandrijevic said.