Šumadija - Srbsko

At the beginning of the cooperation between the regions of South Moravia and Šumadija in a field of education was a creation of Czech language lectureship in Kragujevac. Two-year course was first organized in the Second Kragujevac Gymnasium. Later it was moved to premises of the First Kragujevac Gymnasium, the oldest Gymnasium in Serbia. This course gained very good reputation. As a well-organized program with side educational projects, which enable utilization of the acquired language skills in practice and getting to know the country of interest in person, it is nowadays recognized as a course of guaranteed quality. The projects include the following activities:

  • a preparation course for selected candidates offering 60 hours of Czech language during two weeks in the South Moravian Region;
  • a high school internship in the Czech Republic for three months when the first two weeks are a part of the preparation course mentioned above. After that, the interns attend a high school in the South Moravian Region in a field of study as close as possible to their school in Serbia;
  • a two-semester course from the Department of Czech language for foreigners at Masaryk University in Brno.

Organized travel projects in the Czech Republic and professional internships in the South Moravian Region for Serbian university students or workers were very popular projects as well.

Over the time, the experience had shown a need for further expand of the course in order to enable continuation and deepening of the acquired knowledge for the graduates who have completed the two-year course and are interested in further practice. For this reason, the offer of Czech languages course in Kragujevac was enhanced by a follow-up course. Every year, new graduates of the two-year course who are interested in the Czech Republic, who got to like the language and want to be in further contact and practice can attend lessons at least twice a week.

As some participants commuted to the lessons from further places in the partner region, growing interest in learning the Czech language in other cities in Sumadija region has been proved. The Allowance organization of the South Moravian Region Office therefore proceeded and opened another lectureship in Serbia, this time in Arandjelovec situated about 60 kilometres away from Kragujevac. The courses launch at the Milos Savkovic Gymnasium was supported by a fact of long-term active cooperation with Gymnasium Vídeňská 47, Brno. The courses are still on-going and being offered. Students can thus implement the knowledge gained from the two-year course not only through educational projects of the South Moravian Region Office, but also through programs jointly organized by the two schools.

Active cooperation between other schools in the Regions of South Moravia and Sumadija, namely the Integrated high school in Sokolnice and the First technical school in Kragujevac, inspired the South Moravian Region Office to introduce the Czech language course directly at the Kragujevac Technical School. It takes place twice a week. A main motivation factor for the pupils of the school to learn the Czech language is a possibility to complete their studies at the Integrated high School in Sokolnice. It is organized for Serbian students directly by the Integrated high school through a project called Energy Without Borders.

The benefit of educational projects organized by Allowance organization is mainly an implementation of the Declaration on Cooperation. Since the beginning of the cooperation, several dozen of Serbian students from Sumadija have been allowed to study at Czech universities. Up to this day, the South Moravian Region Office has mapped in total 39 Serbian students who had already finished their studies or are currently studying at public universities in the Czech language under the same conditions as Czech students. The success of Serbian students from Sumadija at the Czech universities is also confirmed by the fact that most of them is financially supported by the Czech government scholarships for foreign students from developing countries.

The selection process of candidates to participate in the educational projects of the South Moravian Region Office is not burdened by nepotism, which is unfortunately a common phenomenon in Serbia, and plays a significant role in the positive perception and benefits of the South Moravian Region in Sumadija. A selection of candidates is determined by a set of predefined criteria and depends purely on diligence and results of the candidates. It shows a new direction to the Serbs and gives them hope that also only their own actions without contacts and nepotism can lead to success.

Activities and functionality of the projects of the South Moravian Region in Sumadija are supported by the existence of an Information Office of JMK in Kragujevac, as well as by presence and work of its employee, Ms. Blanka Koudelná, who has many years of experience in dealing with Serbian partners. The Information Office assists not only students before their departures to the Czech Republic for educational projects. Also citizens of Kragujevac and from elsewhere interested in the Czech Republic for travel, business or other interests and reasons visit the Office. The Information office constantly strives to effectively reduce the cost of its operation. Therefore since 15 June 2015, the Office has been moved to new, cheaper but at the same time more representative premises. An intention became an action after a change of ownership of an office building where the Information Office had initially been located since its opening in Kragujevac. The new lease agreement led towards an increase of rent costs and intolerable conditions.

The allowance organization focuses its activities also in the other direction, towards the Czech students of Masaryk University in Brno. Students of Serbian studies or language can participate in the Summer School of Serbian language in Valjevo, Serbia or in an organized travels in Serbia. The benefit is not only closer discovering of the country and active practicing and deepening language skills. It is also the fact that graduates of the projects often become employees of the South Moravian Region Office where they apply their knowledge directly in an interregional cooperation with Sumadija region. Specifically, they are the four teachers of the Czech language in Serbia, who participated in the Summer School or an organized travels, and the mandatary of the South Moravian Region Office responsible for coordination of educational projects.

To conclude, we can see that the investments into educational projects and the work of the South Moravian Region Office endorse an interest of Sumadija region citizens in the Czech language studies. Moreover, it also promotes an interest among the Czech students of Serbian language at Masaryk University. Thanks to the cooperation between the regions of South Moravia and Sumadija they have better employability on a labour market and the invested funds are being repaid back.