Šumadija - Srbsko

The beginning of cooperation between the South Moravian Region and the Šumadija Region in the field of education was marked by the establishment of the Czech language section in Kragujevac. A TWO-YEAR COURSE, which was first organized at the Second Kragujevac Grammar School and subsequently moved to the First Kragujevac Grammar School, the oldest grammar school in Serbia, gained a reputation and is renown as a guarantee of quality thanks to its organization and accompanying educational projects, which enable participants to use the acquired language knowledge in practice and to personally get to know the country of their interest. These programmes include:

- a two-week language preparation course in the South Moravian Region, where selected applicants attend 60 hours of Czech language lessons,

- a secondary school course where the selected participants spend two months in the Czech Republic, first in language courses and then at a secondary school in the South Moravian Region, which is as close as possible in focus to their school in Serbia,

- a two-semester course at the Department of Czech as a Foreign Language at the Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University in Brno.

Other favourite projects included a sightseeing stay in the Czech Republic or a work placement of Serbian university students and workers in the South Moravian Region.

Over time, the practice of organizing a Czech language course in Kragujevac showed the need for extending lessons for those who graduated the two-year course of Czech language and wanted to maintain and expand their acquired knowledge. For this reason, the offer of Czech lessons in Kragujevac was supplemented by a FOLLOW-UP COURSE, which is attended every year by new graduates of the two-year course, who enjoy the Czech language and the Czech Republic and want to be in close contact with it during lessons at least once a week.

Interest in the teaching of Czech spread throughout the years to other cities of the Šumadija Region, being proven by course participants who travelled to attend the lessons from distant places of the partner region. The JMK office therefore took the step of opening another department in Serbia, this time in Arandjelovac. The commencement of CZECH LESSONS in ARANDJELOVAC, a town about 60 km from Kragujevac, was supported by the fact that the "Miloš Savković" Grammar School, where the lessons have been taking place until the school year 2017/2018, has been actively cooperating with a Brno Grammar School in Vídeňská street. Thus, the students of the school were able to use the acquired knowledge from a two-year course not only through the KJMK educational projects, but also through programmes organized jointly by the two schools.

Active cooperation between other schools in the South Moravian Region and the Šumadija Region, namely the Secondary School of Electrotechnics and Power Engineering in Sokolnice and the First Technical School in Kragujevac, inspired KJMK to introduce Czech lessons directly at the Kragujevac Technical School. Czech lessons take place twice a week, and the motivation for pupils of the school to learn Czech is especially the possibility of completing their studies at the Secondary School of Electrotechnics and Power Engineering in Sokolnice through the Energy Without Borders project, which is organized for Serbian pupils by the Sokolnice secondary school.

The asset of the educational projects carried out by the contributory organization lies in particular the fulfilment of the Declaration on Cooperation, which enabled several dozen Serbian students from Šumadija to study at Czech universities from the very beginning of the co-operation. At present, KJMK has a total of 51 Serbian students who are studying at public universities in the Czech language, i.e. under the same conditions as Czech students, or who have already completed their university studies. The number of newly enrolled students is increasing every year. The success of Serbian students from Šumadija at Czech universities is confirmed by the fact that they are in most cases financially supported by Czech government scholarships for foreign students from developing countries.

An important factor in the positive perception and contribution of the South Moravian Region in Šumadija is the fact that the selection of applicants for participation in the KJMK educational projects is not burdened with favouritism, which is unfortunately a frequent phenomenon in Serbia. The fact that the selection of candidates is based on predetermined criteria and depends purely on the diligence and results of the candidates shows a new direction for the Serbs and gives them the hope that they can succeed by their own actions and without contacts and string-pulling.

In 2017, KJMK responded to the lack of doctors and staff in the South Moravian Region by opening a LANGUAGE DEPARTMENT in BELGRADE. A language course for physicians and health professionals in the Serbian capital aims to prepare linguistic experts for their future professional experience in their specialization in the South Moravian Region. Unlike in the Czech Republic, there are a number of young doctors and medical staff in Serbia who cannot find an appropriate job in their home country. Lessons of Czech for a group of beginners and a group of intermediate students in Belgrade take place once a week in the premises of the Czech ‘Beseda’ Cultural Association.

The Belgrade language course is followed by projects in the South Moravian Region, which serve to intensify Czech language learning, its consolidation, a closer acquaintance with the South Moravian Region and getting to know potential employers:

- Summer School of Slavonic Studies at the Department Czech for Foreigners of the FF MU for four weeks,

- a one-semester study programme for physicians at FF MU with a 15-hour weekly dose of Czech language lessons.

The SMR office also focuses its activities in the other direction, namely on Czech students of Masaryk University in Brno. Students of Serbian language (both in a main and an optional study programme) can participate in a Serbian Summer School in Valjevo, Serbia or in a sightseeing stay in Serbia. They benefit not only from getting to know the country better, practising active use and improving practical language, but also from the fact that the graduates of the above projects become KJMK collaborators, who use their knowledge directly in the interregional cooperation of the South Moravian Region and Šumadija Region. They specifically include the four most recent Czech language teachers in Serbia who participated in the summer school or the sightseeing stay, and the KJMK language project coordinator.

One could therefore say that the investment in educational projects and KJMK work support both the interest in teaching / learning Czech among Šumadija citizens as well as among Czech students of Serbian at Masaryk University in Brno who will find employment in the labour market thanks to the cooperation of the South Moravian Region with Šumadija and thus will return the investment therein.