On 01 September, the Vice President of the Government of Republic of Macedonia – Mr. Abdullaqim Ademi, the Minister for Education and Science – Mr. Nikola Todorov and the Ambassador of the Kingdom Norway in Macedonia – Mr. Kjetil Paulsen have officially launched the new school building in Jegunovce Municipality, in which the project “Integrated and bilingual secondary school” will be implemented. The official opening has been attended by representatives of the Government of Republic of Macedonia, OSCE Mission in Macedonia, USAID, the European Commission in Skopje, the Management Board of the Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue from Norway, the Nansen Network on the Balkans, Jegunovce Municipality and Tetovo, the Bureau for development of the education in Macedonia, the professors, students and their teachers.

This year, with assistance from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom Norway, we have built a school that is small in size, but huge in values. Today, in this Municipality, on this place, the new modern model for European education – the integrated bilingual education is being developed. As Fridtjof Nansen, the Nobel Prize Winner for Peace has entered the Norwegian and World history with his work, these two schools will be part of the history of our new educational model in Macedonia, said Saso Stojkovski – Executive Director of NDC Skopje in his speech.

The Director of the secondary vocational municipal school “Mosa Pijade” from Tetovo, Mr. Pero Gligorov, has expressed gratitude for the confidence in his school to be part of this project and said that together with the expert staff who works in this school and the achieved results, they will justify and confirm the shown confidence.

Today is a big and ceremonial day for Jegunovce Municipality, because today we are launching the newly built facility for a secondary integrated and bilingual school, a project that is being implemented for the first time in Republic of Macedonia and on the Balkans. With this project, we will have a higher quality teaching, better education and better interethnic relations in the Municipality, said Mr. Toni Koceski – Mayor of Jegunovce Municipality.

The Director of the Nansen Network on the Balkans, Mr. Steinar Bryn has also addressed the audience. Today, it is a beautiful day in Jegunovce. Today, it is a historical day in Jegunovce. Knowledge and education are the most important resources in every society. To be a teacher may be the most important job in the society – schools is where we are building the future of our country. The whole Europe, including Norway is trying to deal with the issue of integration. I would say that this is the biggest challenge for all European countries for the year 2010. Today, Jegunovce is showing the whole Europe how the integrated school system can be implemented; Jegunovce is presenting the model that could inspire people; Jegunovce is developing a model that should be followed. Today, you are showing the world how confrontation can be replaced with cooperation. Today, the students who will enter the new school “Fridtjof Nansen” will enter a school with windows and doors wide opened towards the world. The students will learn how to live together with deep and mutual respect for their languages, cultures, religions and traditions. This is the road towards the future.

Dear students, today you are the protagonists of today’s event. Here we have the students from the primary school and the students who will start attending the secondary school. In the future, you are the ones who through your intellectual and life achievements, should prove that this concept that we are celebrating today is the right concept for education. I think that we all agree that this model should progress in this country, to be extended out of this place through the methodology of Nansen, which is very clear. The OSCE Mission together Mr. Knut Volebek – High Commissioner for ethnic issues in Europe is here to help the Municipality, the school and the teaching staff in order for them to be successful, said Mr. Jose Luis Herero – OSCE Chief of Mission in Macedonia.

Several years already, the Norwegian Government is gladly working on activities for improving the interethnic relations in Macedonia and on the Balkans and we give a big importance to these efforts. The interethnic stability is a precondition for peace, prosperity and economic development. The Nansen school in Jegunovce is a symbol of what can be achieved when ethnic groups are working with joint efforts towards peace, stability and prosperity. The project has been widely praised, even outside the borders of Macedonia. I would also like to join all these praises. Today, the project is being extended, a new school building has been constructed and the lectures will begin today. The village Preljubiste and the projects that are being realized here, represent a model which we hope will be followed by other municipalities, as well. At the end of his speech, H.E. Mr. Kjetil Paulsen – Ambassador of the Kingdom Norway in Macedonia, has congratulated the students and wished them a successful academic year.

Also the Minister for Education and Science, Mr. Nikola Todorov has addressed the audience and said: “It is my great pleasure that today I have the honor to celebrate with all of you the beginning of the new academic year and the opening of the first integrated bilingual school in Republic of Macedonia. The project for integrated bilingual education began with its realization in the academic 2008/2009, when the first integrated bilingual primary school in Macedonia has been opened. In 2009, preparations for opening an integrated bilingual secondary school have begun, which will be officially opened today with a total number of 35 students enrolled in 2 classes, in Macedonian and Albanian language. As a result of this project supported by the Government of the Kingdom Norway and implemented by the Nansen Dialogue Center in Norway, it is planned to make additional construction in the future to the secondary school facility, which will increase its capacity. This way, preconditions will be created for enrollment of three future generations of secondary school students, which will enable Jegunovce Municipality to have a complete and representative integrated bilingual secondary school with four successful generations of students. We are wise enough to build an integrated society, which will be based on our will for a complete social and economic progress for the whole country, for the whole nation, for all of us who live in Republic of Macedonia.

I feel very happy today for the joint celebration of the beginning of a new academic year, but also for the celebration of the opening a new integrated bilingual school. The project has started few years ago and now we can see the results from it. The effects from such projects are bringing the students closer together, offering same possibilities, standards and resources for all students. I hope that this project will continue and will be successful not only in Jegunovce Municipality, but will be extended out of Jegunovce Municipality. It is certain that Macedonia after 2001 is Macedonia which is built on the basis of the Ohrid Framework Agreement, which guarantees multiethnicism and same conditions for everyone in the further development. Certainly this model represents the best example and model for cooperation and we as a Government and in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science and the other donors will continue to invest in such type of projects. The support from the Nansen Dialogue Center is welcome, not only the financial one, but the expert help and the experiences that they are transferring to this school. We will further continue to support such type of projects, said Mr. Abdullaqim Ademi – Vice President of the Government of Republic of Macedonia.

After the addressing of the speakers, the new school building has been officially launched and the audience had an opportunity to learn more about the conditions the new secondary school students from Jegunovce Municipality will study in.