Bringing Diverse History into Our Schools

By Simone Ford Post date: Mar 28, 2014


The Joint History Project (JHP) is The Center of Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe’s (CDRSEE) flagship program.  The program centered on teaching a more diverse and participatory program for history education in the Balkan region. 

The initiative contains two components.  The first is the creation of a more holistic historical narrative.  This portion of the project entailed the creation of four workbooks discussing history leading up to World War II.  These workbooks are adapted into 11 of the regions languages and reach approximated 600,000 students. 

The second component of this project is creating innovative teaching styles for teachers.  The JHP hosted workshops with more than 1,800 teachers to discuss innovative and engaging ways to teach the material.  This offers the students a more engaging way to interact with the material. 

This project has been extremely successful in the Balkan region.  It has been praised by ministers of education and is being further implemented and adapted. The JHP is currently in the process of creating more workbooks that discuss history after World War II, including the Cold War and the 1990s transition periods. 

Key Goals

  • To foster independent thought using history education to societies toward peaceful, democratic and inclusive features.
  • To empower teacher to engage with multiple perspectives when teaching history.
  • To provide children with the tools to promote and defend democratic values.
  • To reach areas more areas with less resources to a balanced history education. 

Background for JHP:

After World War II and during the Cold War, the Balkan region was under Communist control. After the Cold War, the region broke out into various Slavic wars and created six countries out Yugoslavia.  This region is currently undergoing ethnic tensions.  The history of the region combined with the economic crises has led to increased ethnocentrism.  The ethnocentrism is further perpetuated in the classroom and by neglecting other backgrounds.  This system leads to a lack of cooperation, negotiation and conflict resolution. 

The JHP project is an attempt to stop further promotion of ethnocentrism in the classroom.  In order to prevent factionalism it is important to give each perspective attention.  Thus, the history program allows a curriculum that highlights everyone’s history and does neglect any one particular group’s history.  This same project will be fundamental to countries in the MENA region.

JHP Process Overview and Analysis

The JHP project is the keystone initiative for the CDRSEE.  This project attempts to create realistic change in the field of democracy promotion through history curriculum.  It is an on-going and open-ended education program that attempts to reform society in the Balkans as well as political structures.  This program is currently implemented in: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Greece, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and Turkey.   The JHP project implemented their approach in three distinct stages.  These stages began in 1998 and continue into the present day.  The three stages will be enumerated below.

The first stage is the conceptual stage.  This was a two year phase took place from 1998- 2001.  During this time JHP performed an in-depth regional analysis of the South Eastern countries and their history programs.  This was fundamental in creating and the program that would be used in order to create a program that is specific and useful for the region.  During this stage seven region workshops in which history textbooks and history training protocol were assess.   The idea for teaching packs for individual history teachers was born out of this process. 

The first step is fundamental in getting to know the target audience.  During this time, JHP was able to assess the current methodologies first hand.  Additionally, this is a way for an outside source to have an immediate impact on the region.  Lastly, this system creates legitimacy through its relationships with individuals in the country.  These relationships are necessary in gaining traction with other teachers and school systems. 

The second stage occurred between September 2002 and 2005.  In this step entailed the creation of the workbooks in English.  The workbooks were written on four topics: The Balkan Wars, The Ottoman Empire, The Second World War, and the Nations and States in Southeast Europe.  This phase was the most logistical, primarily focusing on the mechanical process of gathering information and creating the workbooks.  After, the books were compiled there were four regional workshops in 2003, in which teachers from the various countries gave feedback on the program.

This stage is important to continuing to gather support from the teachers as well as creating the product. During this step, the information gathered from step one as well as feedback from teachers are created into four cohesive books.  This is the stage that involves the largest amount of physical work and testing.

The final stage began in 2005 and continues into the future.  This stage focused on the translation of the four workbooks into the seven languages of the participating countries.  Additionally, this was the promotion phase of the project.  It is important for teachers and schools to buy into the program for it to be effective.  This stage utilizes the relationships built in the first two stages and creates new relationships through outreach to teachers.  This phase is the implementation and dissemination of the materials and methodologies in the school. 

This stage is the final stage of the program and synthesizes the first two stages to distribute the methodology to the schools.  It is important to make early relationships with individual teachers and communities to help distribute the materials.  This phase also takes the most funding.  This phase in the JHP project came from several donors, fundraising and promotion through CDRSEE. 

Pre-Implementation Phase

Idea Formulation

The idea behind the Joint History Project is to break down the preexisting barriers created by nationalism.  The program idea was based on a general European history initiative that created new textbooks as a peace initiative.  This was successful in creating the Franco German and German Polish commissions.   After the Cold War, diversity obstacles such as: culture, language and religion, needed to be reconciled in Europe.  The end of the Cold War marked a monumental shift in historical teachings.  In the Post-Communist landscape, the Balkan region no longer desired to associate itself with the Eastern European states, rather it wanted to be associated with Western Europe.  This change neglected much of the cultural past of the countries and abandoned many existing ideologies.  This shift in historical interpretation is detrimental to the cultural memories of the past.

During the 1990s many NGOs were interested in the region and created many different democratization projects.  The JHP was born out of these initiatives.  They took the idea that history is a changing for in peace promotion and democratization and applied it to the region.  During this time they interviews many different individuals and learned that the project needed include all of the South East European Countries and it needed to be a regionally-initiated effort toward a joint response.  These two factors are extremely important in gaining traction within the region.  NGOs while good intentioned, do not understand the country or political dynamics in the same manner as a local citizen.  For any long-term democratization effort to take hold, the people in the country have to accept the project.  Thus, the JHP’s ability to have these influences from the start of the program explains its success.

Setting the Agenda

The project gained traction at the 1999 “National Memory in Southeastern Europe” Conference in Greece.  The conference gathered 50 leading historians and discussed the challenges to nationalism through culture construction and secular religion.  The conference focused on ways to produce and ally national memories.  In addition, it contained a session on how to translation national memories into a coherent history curriculum.  Out of this conference came the initial timeline and checklist for the JHP project.  After this conference, the JHP began conducting regional workshops to examine both history textbooks and the methods for teaching history throughout the region. 

Problems and Solutions

During the seven regional conferences key issues were arose about teaching history in the Balkans.  These problems were published into two workbooks “Teaching the History of Southeast Europe” and “Clio in the Balkans”.  The key issues that arose out of the workshops are bullet pointed bellow.

  • “The ethnocentric approach to history education is predominant in all textbooks of the region.
  • Textbooks in the countries in the region include little on Balkan history.
  • National histories are based on opposing or mutually rejected national myths; events are described and named completely differently, depending on who is telling the story
  • The state maintains a monopoly on history education
  • Teachers are critical for shaping new generations” (USAID 2010, p.9)

This phase focused on assessing the problems that are present in the current history curriculum in the Balkans and gathering ideas for the workbooks. 

Local Teacher Involvement

The next step was to have seven regional teacher workshops in which teachers would demonstrate their existing teaching styles.  In this group the primary participants were from Albania, Bulgaria, Greece and the Republic of Macedonia.  This step allowed the JHP members to assess the major challenges that teachers were facing when teaching in schools.  One major issue that was discovered in this phase was that neighboring countries did not have the same history and they were not given access to their neighboring country’s historical resources.  During these meetings, the teachers discussed their desire for more diverse teaching material for their students. 

Out of these meetings two strategic points emerged:

  • “Motivated individuals will bring about changes in history education rather than impersonal institutions.
  • Together with academics and textbook authors, teachers are key actors that can make a difference in history education”. (USAID 2010, p.10)

As was discussed in previous sections, it is shown that individuals within the country have the strongest impact for success on democratization.  After this phase, it was clear to the JHP that the program must stem from inside the countries rather than from a removed source. 

End of Phase One

After the completion of the regional meetings, the JHP began work on creating the workbooks.  They also began to create training programs to help the teachers teach the new material. 

Implementation of Programs

Tasks and Challenges

The history workbooks were created as a material that the teachers could use to implement the new multiple perspective teaching methods.  The JHP was invested in the effectiveness and usefulness of the workbooks.  The textbooks had two functions.  The first was to identify other themes that could be compatible with other curricula.  The second was to create a history that featured a balanced representation of the various regions.  Thus, the project created four workbooks spanning from the 14th Century through World War II. 

The three major challenges facing material gathering were:

  • Creating a strategic initiative from the ground up.
  • “Handling highly sensitive topics
  • Finding balance among the diversity of historical sources and countries” (USAID 2010, p.12).


The implementation process is outlined below; this process took exactly three years and consisted of three distinct stages.

The first stage is drafting the workbooks.  They began this phase in the summer of 2002 and until the summer 2003.  During this phase meetings occurred discussing the design and the process and criteria for selecting source material.  This process handled the logistical components of finding material, gathering material, organizing the workbooks and communication between coordinators and contributors.  This stage ended with the creation of the four workbooks. 

The second stage was “assessing the drafts and convening focus groups for teachers for four workshops organized in different Balkan cities” (USAID 2010, p.12).  This took place between June and November of 2003. This process was used to see if the books would be effective teaching tools.  Focus groups of teachers were tasked with coming up with lesson plans utilizing the workbooks.  During this process, the teachers ensured the usefulness of the books and stressed the need for teacher training. 

The final stage was finalizing the workbooks and printing them.  The final stage combined the feedback given by the teachers and a final assessment to ensure that the viewpoints were balances.  This process took until 2005.  It also included editing in English as well as gaining more constructive criticisms for the books. 


Outcomes and Impacts

The JHP project has been an extremely useful and prolific program.  The history workbooks have been extremely useful advocacy tools.  They helped raise awareness about multi-perspective learning methods and garnered EU attention.  National advocacy efforts to implement the history workbooks have flourished since the programs beginning.  Since the foundation of the project, seven countries have adapted the workbooks into their languages as well as urged their governments to support the new curriculum.  The JHP has gained local support for multi-perspective history curriculum in the region.  Over 700 teachers have started to implement this program in their classrooms.  Furthermore, it is extremely important that these efforts continue into the future.  The efforts that have been made are impressive, but the continuation will help to ensure greater cooperation even in the current nationalistic contexts. 

Lessons Learned

In conflict-affected areas, a history curriculum that specializes in multiple perspectives is an effective tool for assisting with conflict resolution.  The discussion of past conflict is important to all history curriculums.  The problem that any history narrative falls into is the idea that there is “one history”.  History is a compilation of different perspectives and ideas.  Therefore, by teach a history from multiple different perspectives will help everyone to have a more holistic view of the conflict.  It also decreases the marginalization of certain groups.  They found that “hearing voices of the other side, as well as the voices of various actors and groups within each f the countries at the time of the conflicts advances understanding of the complexity of why conflicts happen and how they affect both sides involved” (USAID 2010, p.31)

One obstacle that the study faced is the teaching of recent conflicts.  JHP did not introduce the wars in the Balkans in the 1990s because “it was too early and would produce a counter productive response” (USAID 2010, p.31).  This finding is extremely important because introducing newer and more polarizing material in the beginning stages of the process may alienate the target group.  It is important to know your audience.  Therefore the two-year in-depth research on the countries is vital to ascertaining this information.  Additionally, incorporation of teachers and individuals from the communities into the process is pertinent to understanding the information that is useful in the study.

In order for the program to have a true impact, the project must be implemented for extended periods of time as well as having a diverse participant group from academic and teaching communities.

It is important for the project to occur within the local communities rather than imposed by outside donors.  Outside forces are often viewed as untrustworthy, therefore for the project to have any effect the program must originate from the local communities.  Having the energy derive from inside the local communities is leads to more local involvement.  In the Balkan region, JHP integrated itself into the community; therefore the NGO was not the only implementing force.  In order for this to be effective, the NGO has to initially make contact with the community.  

The number of teachers within the program as well as the amount of training that each teacher has received needs to grow.  In order for the program to really take hold, a number of individuals must buy into the program.  The more teachers that are within the program mean that more students have access to this particular curriculum.  In order to effectively promote democracy through history programs, it is vital to have a large group of teachers invested in program.  Additionally, teacher have suggested, “they would benefit from methodological guides (printed and visual) that demonstrate the practice of multi-perspective method and model lesson” (USAID 2010, p.iv).  In order for the program to be easily and widely disseminated, more specific training is and the more training that occurs will be beneficial to the masses. 


Attached is the methodology that the JHP project used.  Annex 3 is the school dissemination summaries for BiH.  Annex 4 is the Collection of Kosovo sources and Annex 5 is the Conclusion of the teachers working groups.  Each document is useful in assessing the project’s first hand materials for implementation of the project. 

Ideas for Implementation in the MENA Region

The process used for the JHP can be easily adapted to the MENA region.  Many of the same problems that plagued the Balkan area have affected the MENA region since World War I.  One of the major countries that implemented the JHP was Turkey.  Thus, it is useful to have Turkey, a heavily Muslim state as a guideline for implementation.  By using the same steps used in the Balkans a program can be created in the MENA region.

One major obstacle that the project may face is authoritarian leadership.  The Balkan region had many more democratic countries when the project began.  Thus, implementation was easier in at least quasi-democratic states.  The MENA region has far more authoritarian regimes that this type of implementation may be more difficult.   Due to this obstacle, the preplanning portion of the initiative may take longer.  This portion would include greater relationship building with locals and national leaders.  



Annex 3

Mini seminar: Handbooks for History readers


We had 15 mini seminars, 9 trainers and 72 participants, 23 cities.

Mini seminar method was based on Sarajevo experience when Vesna Janevska presented participants with methodological approach and potential use of Handbook as facilitating supplement to history readers.

Every professor/trainer was offered to fit in their own approach in few following determinants:

1. Present potential use of Handbook and it's preferences for facilitated approach to Readers.

2. Prepare an exercise where professors working as a group could check that.

3. Every professor within ten minutes presents how he would do that in a class.

4. Evaluation

5. Participation certificates awarding.


Professors are not hindered in approaching additional material interpretation. Every seminar, generally, had a positive feedback even among not attending professors, which is confirmed by evaluations done at every mini seminar end. Professors are interested for this project, want to participate in future ones, and want to make contacts with seminar organizers in a more intimate and frequent way. They assume that it is necessary to widen history observation segments, especially regarding causes to new state formation at the end of 20th century, and what came after bloody Balkans wars and changes in demographic, geopolitical and social terms in countries incurred after ex Yugoslavia breakup, respectively situation after Dayton Peace agreement. They assume that historical fact must be disclosed, not hidden under the carpet, but multiperspectivity must be base of everything and elementary approach to studying, as it was offered in four History readers. Reactions are positive about chosen trainers who adopted in Sarajevo training basics on presentation approach for using History readers with Handbooks. Topics they chose based on offered models in the Handbook, began wide and controversial debates, so it was a real pleasure to overlook that development from distance.

First seminars were held at the end of November in north Bosnia, The Brčko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and at largest university center in northeastern Bosnia, in Tuzla. At the beginning of December a seminar was held in Sarajevo, later in middle Bosnia, in Zenica and Travnik, where due to large interest in the seminar was included a professor from Mrkonjić Grad, a town in the smaller B&H entity /Republic of Srpska/. At the end of December, due to large number of professors in Tuzla canton, seminar again in Tuzla, of which one with university professors, due to their insist, who were informed in details about History readers project, who were also consulting editors for four History readers, and who recommended them to Education bureau of Tuzla as basis for seminar organization from CDRSEE. At the beginning of 2011 seminars were held in western Bosnia, in Bihać and Cazin, and the last of 15 seminars planned, was held in Mostar, in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Seminar participants were mainly professors that attended past seminar with History readers presentation, and a smaller number of them with enough knowledge of the project and it’s essence. During the presentation of the Handbook they received History readers. So far, without one in Mostar, seven lecturers were engaged. Seminars had between four and six participants. Following are presentation accents in particular towns.


MUNIB EFENDIĆ /3 groups/

Professor Munib Efendić as trainer worked with three groups in Tuzla. He prepared methodological approach and demonstrated it through prism of History readers as supplementary teaching means, and possibility of their use as additional source with textbooks for regular classes. He presented Readers as a try of objective approach in history science and as a try to reconcile unconciliated /historians agreed – it is politicians turn/. As an example he used Dervishes, and region of southeastern Europe as a region pressed with burden of division, political turmoil, constant confrontations and bloody wars. He spoke about three histories in B&H, and tries to adorn history, exaggeration, docketing and outspreading of untruth. And history professors have become a part of that, unfortunately  - claims professor Efendić. Existing textbooks deserve rebellion of profession people, and Readers can serve as a step forward, as a road to changes in class conduction on a way to objectivity. Readers are not to be understood as textbook substitutes, but are great supplements to textbooks. Use of Readers contribute to interactive class and they make lecturers and students satisfied. Teachers of today have obligation to change ossified consciousness and positivistic history interpretation as fertile ground for nationalist consciousness and racism. Teachers have obligation to change themselves and their approach to class, and using Readers a new approach to history is possible which has to be new in method, but not in content.

Professor Efendić suggests a need of changes in historical approach, so that national history does not become nationalistic one, and regional history has to be placed in context of European and world history. Your people’s and region’s history does not have to be idealized, and nation does not have to be only form of identification.

 A critical thought has to be actuated and students have to be faced with different versions of same event, which Readers provide and offer.

Then he offered topics from every of four Readers. In a very interesting and attractive way, using example of Zindeine Zidane, a persona which was encircled with both positive and negative emotions, he spoke of consciousness and emotions flow, about feelings that might have dominated people when talking about him in context of sports greatness, at one side, and an incident with an Italian player who insulted him, at which he bluntly and unsportsmanlike conducted himself. For approach at every Reader’s topic he used models of class units from the Handbook.



Professor Knežević’s lecture was consisted of three parts (in timeframe od 45 mins):

General methodical-didactic and pedagogical basic principles of class presentation and analysis of new matter from any subject;

Conceptual elaboration of semantic work value on authentic history texts in regular classes;

Demonstration of his own class practice.

Second part dealed with historical source, paragraph, from itinerary “Travel to Bosnia” written by Chaumette Des Fosses, where were described conditions in Bosnian pashalik at beginning of 19th century. Accent was placed on importance of such class conduction, practice of historical truths verification, as they are in historical sources, and usage of verified/proven historical truths.

Work on  authentical historical texts in class /elaboration, development, research (non graded)

(I, II, III – 45 mins)

(IV – 45 mins)

Generally on class deduction

Key terms:


Ways/means of work

Teaching methods

Teaching means

Class course (one of possible ones)

Introduction (10 mins)

Presentation /lecturing/implementing/elaborating of matter, lesson (25 mins)

Repetition (conclusion, emphasizing on important facts, terms, homework, etc.) (10 mins)

Working on authentic history text takes at least 10 mins.

Benefits are huge:

Experience of the past

Fully individual work

Mental benefit, unbinded look on past and present

My class practice, experiences

Class course: introduction (5 mins)

Presentation (20 mins)

Exercise (authentic historical text, 15 mins)

Repetition/conclusion (5 mins)



Professor Paunović during the first hour of the seminar introduced History readers and Handbook for them. During the second hour she elaborated on her experience while working on class unit “history sources” and used exercise “Eyewitnesses and second-hand stories”. Colleagues worked of “Every story is composed of many parts” exercise, and then they applied that on class unit model “Janissary/Dervish system of Ottoman empire”.

In the final part of the seminar, participants presented their thoughts regarding Handbooks. Thoughts are positive and they hope that number of topics shall increase during forecoming period.


ŽIVANA ILIĆ /1 group/

Professor Ilić in her Power Point presentation presented possibilities of the Handbook and it’s increased possibility for simpler use of History readers. She presented the Handbook, gave table presentation of difference between teacher-lecturer and teacher-moderator.

She brought in printed form a draft “Lesson planning”, which was presented last March at seminar in Sarajevo by Vesna Janevska and with that template she managed to actuate teachers to prepare on their own their imaginary classes and present them in Sarajevo mini workshop.


DRAGAN GAVRAN /2 groups/

Professor Gavran worked on seminars in Zenica and Travnik while using methodological approach of Vesna Janevska and used examples offered in the Handbook. He did not insist on individual presentations of class organization in imaginary form, but they had group comments on possibilities and advantages while using History readers and now added Handbooks. Evaluations testify how seminar participants, those who had contact with History readers and those who did not, think of seminar as very necessary and underline need for communication and exchange of ideas, and need for introduction to new lecturing and learning methods.



At mini seminars in Bihać and Cazin, class unit 1 model from Handbook for supplement materials was implemented (History readers) “Devsirme system of Ottoman empire” from History reader “Ottoman empire”.

There were two groups in Bihać working simultaneously. First group made class vision on topic “Corfu declaration”, and second on topic “Woman’s position in Ottoman empire”. Professor Maslak worked with one group in Cazin on topic “Leader, ideology”.

Class unit goal: examine to what extent is history class that uses wider range of confronted sources fairer, profounder and more objective.

Abilities development. Related and methodical skills, personal maturities and social skills.

Professor Maslak presented a concrete example with students where they were handed out pieces of cardboard and asked them to write one sentence on “Devshirme system”. Then they placed cardboard pieces in two groups: “facts” and “thoughts”. They started conversation on why they called something a fact, and something a thought.

Abilities development: how lecturing and learning methods can be connected to contents. He explained to seminar participants that what “small people without enough experience (children) should learn in life could be placed in three groups: related and methodical skills, personal maturities and social skills. Seminar participant were motivated to think what skills our students use in our schools. At the end he asked: How to organize a school where all skills are represented?

Work in groups: To explain how methods of learning and education function in real life, he suggested to seminar participants to divide students into groups and to give every student one text out of History reader “Ottoman empire” (II-5, II-6, II-7). Then student are given four statements about Devshirme from the Handbook to answer if they agree with them or not. Later on students discuss within groups if the statements are true or not, are some of them purposely untrue or false, and if they are so, why. Then ask groups to find a consensus. Groups give feedback, discuss, and teacher why every source has different perspective. Next faze is that somebody represents claim that Devshirme was in general good, and another student to represent claim that Devshirme was in general bas. Other students, as parliament, should decide if Devshirme is generally good or bad.

Relating first and second unit on Devshirme.



Mini seminars held in Bihać and Cazin were successful. Participant turnout was good, and working conditions were satisfactory. It is especially important to emphasize cooperation of local community, i.e. Municipality of Cazin for consigned space (City hall) where working conditions were excellent, which brought new quality to seminars in means of approach, quality and evaluation.

Seminar in Bihać and Cazin, after extensive preparations, was consisting of plenary part, workshop, exercise and group work presentation, evaluation and certificate awarding.

In plenary part accent was given to multiperspectivity, variety of sources and materials, and methodological use od Readers. Presented workshop was Class unit 2 model from the Handbook, i.e. Identity and belonging. After active and interesting workshop, group had an assignment to make a group model of class unit – National symbols, connected to identity.

Participants both in Bihać and Cazin were very active and creative which was shown in their presentations.

Feedback from teachers, seminar participants is very good, and trainer Beširević sincerely hopes they will use gained experience in practice.



Two seminars in Mostar where supported by Pedagogical institution Mostar /Kovačević, adviser for History teaching/. It was consisting of plenary part, workshop, exercise and group work presentation, evaluation and certificate awarding. They used Devshirma system, two groups had a strong discussion about it, they argue. Also, they used Vesn’s Janevski methodology and Power Point presentation and other materials as tools for lesson, they tray to make connection with recent time and explain topics about Devshirma for modern time /”white slave” as voluntary adhesion or necessity/. We gave to professors 27 books in bosnian and 7 in croat language.


Annex 4

Kosovo Education Center (KEC)

“Mileniumi i Tretë” School Campus

Nn “Isa Kastrati” street


Tel. 038/244 257, Fax.038/244 257, ext. 109

E-mail: ;




 Report for in-school trainings in Kosovo 


1. Introduction

Within the Joint History Project, during February 2010 a training of trainers was held. The aim of this training was to build the capacity of the history teachers.

In this training participated 10 history teachers from different parts of Kosovo.

After the training, we asked teachers (trainers) to conduct in-school training with the history teachers of schools where they come from. Below we will present short reports from the trainings that of trainers organized in their schools.


1. Enver Sadiku, Prishtina

Training was held in high school "Eqrem Qabej" in Pristina. Present at the training were two of history teachers in this college, Bajram Elife and Ajvazi Maloku.

With the introduction of the set of books and the methodology, these teachers were fairly satisfied. They also expressed their willingness to participate in other trainings.

Also, with the books they were satisfied, especially with the idea to use some of their parts as an additional material of history teaching.


Photo 1 – Enver Sadiku with other teachers during the in-school training

Photo 1 – Enver Sadiku with other teachers during the in-school training

2. Afrim Balaj, Deçan

As we agreed I don’t need to write a report for this training because you were present there.


3. Valmira Kurti & Ardiana Sinani, Mitrovicë

As we agreed I don’t need to write a report for this training because you were present there


4. Hamide Sahiti, Drenas

Training was organized in school “Xheladin Gashi” in Komoran (village near Drenas) Professors who are informed about alternative sources of history are: Avdi Bugiqi, Xhavit Bytyqi and Ali Orana.

They have accepted very well the idea of using the alternative sources, and they are very interested to participate on another training (long one).


5. Besim Haliti, Viti

The training was organized with the teachers of two schools from Vitia, the school “Ndre Mjeda” in the Kabash village and “Hasan Alia” in Remnik. Teachers were informed about the project, methodology (short steps) and with the set of the book.

In the training, we had a very constructive debate about the importance of alternative sources and materials. Teachers of these schools welcomed this mini-workshop and promised that they will use the books in their educational work.


Photo 2 – Besim Halili during the training         Photo 3 – Teacheres in the trainings


6. Aferdita Misimi, Prishtina

Training was held in Pristina, since all teachers in Aferdita’s school have undergone this training, we have gone further, organizing a mini-workshop with a researcher from the Institute of History – Alban Dobruna.

Alban liked the books very much, and he showed openness to use these books in his researches. He has also pointed out the importance of organizing such trainings for teachers, as it is really needed and the idea of using alternative resources help everybody.


7. Agron Mexhuani, Prishtina

This teacher works in a private school, and this fact prevented him from having time to organize the training. In order to compensate this handicap, he found teachers, and asked Enver to hold the training instead of him. The training was held with two teachers from school “Xhavit Ahmeti” in Prishtina, where I had a meeting with two colleagues, history teachers LUMNIJE NURA and HALIME BLLACA. I have informed them on the work we’ve been doing in CDRSEE project throughout Kosova, and I have conducted a short training with them on the ways how to use alternative resources, more in concrete CDRSEE books. They were thankful for the books given to them and showed the readiness to participate in any of training under this project.


8. Florim Isufi, Prishtina

A very interesting fact arose in this training. When we were in the visit to this school, they were in the old school building (see photo 1)


Photo 4

In the meantime they have entered the new school building, and the training was held there. See photo 5


Photo 5

Ejup Durmishi and Shpetim Lluminca were teachers present in the training. Both were satisfied with the idea and books. 


9. Donika Xhemajli, Prishtinë

Donika was involved in the training from the beginning, she help us to include other teachers from her school in our trainings. Within her school and other near schools all history teachers are involved in the trainings, so she didn’t do the training because no other history teachers are in those schools. She promised us that she will do it; even that informally our training has distributed many sets of book their colleagues in the past (based on the set that they requested to have during our trainings)


Prishtina, 28 February 2011                                                                          Petrit Tahiri

Kosova Education Center

Annex 5

Conclusions of Teachers’ Workshop:

Reforming history teaching in Southeast Europe from the view point of practitioners 

(Moderator: Prof. Dr. Falk Pingel, Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research,



Teachers from Schools in Skopje, Pula, Athens, Thessaloniki, Belgrade and Pristina, along with JHP project partners from Pristina and Belgrade, presented their experience with using the JHP workbooks in class as well as the challenges they faced, the need for reform in their respective administrations and their personal opinions of the needs of history teachers in the future. This fruitful discussion, successfully moderated by Prof. Dr. Falk Pingel, led to a set of unanimous conclusions, presented below in order of presentation to the moderator during discussion:


1)     More workshops are needed, to make the training more thorough and address the challenges faced by teachers after the initial workshops;


2)     More workshops should take place in the most rural areas of the region, for wider outreach;


3)     More international workshops should take place, as they are deemed useful for exchange with peers about solutions to common issues faced in implementing the JHP. It is also deemed as a strong motivation.


4)     A separate webpage for teachers should be created, where practitioners could upload and download over 100 model lessons and lessons plans. Teachers could also ask questions to their colleagues and receive answers.


5)     It may be a good idea to offer teachers something in exchange of their work, not anything material, but perhaps an opportunity for exchanges with peers, class visits etc.


6)     Most importantly, the single biggest problem faced by teachers in implementing the JHP and using the workbooks in class (faced by all teachers present) is a technical one: teachers do not have access easily to copying machines and equipment, and thus cannot provide their pupils with copies of the pages they need to work with them from the workbooks. 2 possible solutions were proposed:


  1. To provide teacher’s collectives (not schools) with copying machines (but this was deemed rather unrealistic);
  2. To provide teachers with additional copies of the workbooks for use in class (1 copy per 3 students for example). The books would remain in the custody of the school/teacher, but be made available for class work.


Regional Conference - History Education fostering European Integration

19-21 November 2010


Workshops – A path to reform


Workshop II:    Reforming history teaching in Southeast Europe from the view point of policy makers

(Moderator: Yannis Tsorbatzoglou, CEE expert, Vice President of Anatolia College, Thessaloniki)


-  Conclusions - 


Working Group Members:

Koutoula Kyrkini Anastasia, Hellenic Pedagogical Institute, Athens

Kuluksija Adela – Cantonal Ministry of Education, Mostar

Mulla Alfredi - Director of Curricula, Standards and Qualifications, Institute of Educational Development, Tirana

Noack-Aetopulos Corinna, Director Of Programmes, CDRSEE, Thessaloniki

Ostojic Tanja - Senior Adviser-Head of Department, Department for International Cooperation and European Integration, Ministry of Education and Science, Podgorica

Popov Zelimir - Assistant Minister of Education, Belgrade

Stojanovic Biljana - Ministry of Education, Department for History, Belgrade

Tsorbazoglou Yannis, CEE expert, Vice President of Anatolia College, Thessaloniki 


What are current visions and plans for educational reform and what role does history teaching play in existing reform plans?


Discussions revealed that reforms to history teaching have been ongoing for the past 10 years, the reform process to history education is influenced by political agendas and does not necessarily always corresponds with the educational needs. Content plays a bigger role than developing research skills and bureaucracy, as well as political sensitivity towards history curricula considerably slow down the will for a change in policies. 


Especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the complicated set up of the governmental structures does not allow for effective reform. Impressions were that the closer one canton is to the other the more the curricula differ. The policy towards textbooks is defined on the cantonal level, textbooks need approval, which is more a technical process and not so much based on the content. The textbook market is open and teachers can choose.  The Alternative Educational Materials produced by the CDRSEE are very welcome.


In Montenegro a huge reform was launched 10 years ago and new laws were introduced. The educational reform process is still ongoing.


In Albania, history is a very important part of the curriculum. In order to prepare youth for future needs and a better understanding of the current political situation, the curricula include fostering  critical thinking skills. A reform was initiated three years ago and will take another two years. The reform of history curricula did not cause any strong public reactions because it was an inclusive process.  While controversial issues were touched, it was possible to settle them. There is a core curriculum and optional curriculum and students can take extra history courses. The concept of de-centralisation includes hours and space in the curriculum for free teaching, where teachers can choose the topics to include and engage in group work activities. The reform and the changes are still experimental.


In Serbia, since 2001 the education system is going though a reform process. The Ministry of Education, 3 Institutes, including also the Institute for Minorities in Vojvodina and the National Council are involved.  Recently, experts have prepared a document, giving future directions, i.e. a potential next reform. The reforms went through ups and downs, many lessons were learnt, which were incorporated into the next phases. Standards were defined for 10 subjects, including history, where the standards define guidelines for historical knowledge (content) as well as for the development of research skills.


The Assistant Minister elaborated on the great difficulties in establishing the relative importance of subjects, general education now counts for 60%, and expert knowledge, which encompasses history counts for 40%. Additionally a block of national subjects (history, geography, Serbian, ...) was defined which should take up 80% or the school lessons, while professional skills should only account for 20%. This means that there is a stronger interest in developing a good national identity, instead of fostering professional transversal skills. This approach towards education is initiated by the radical party and there is no strong force for a reform towards modern educational policies, based on skills needs and labour markets.


In terms of the recent sensitive history, the textbooks include the nationalist era of the Milosevic regime, but without any interpretation.


In Greece the system was described as still bureaucratic in the processes ruled by the ministry, while the pedagogical institute is less bureaucratic, but also has less influence. The curriculum is heavily based on content rather than being oriented towards developing research skills. In schools obligatory textbook are used, the market is not open.  


-Attitudes towards a multi perspective approach to history


Overall, multi-perspectivity is a generally acknowledged methodology, which, however, is new to the region and teachers need to be supported in applying it in classrooms.


In BiH the OSCE has established common guidelines on textbooks, including multi-perspectvity, but they are not obligatory.


In Montenegro, the concept is acknowledged and while in the new textbooks it is intended that history teaching contributes to the establishment of Montenegrin national identity it is not done in a nationalistic way. In Albania, multi-perpectivity is welcomed and also the role of women is incorporated in new teaching materials. In Serbia, the concept of multi-perspectivity is included in the new set of standards for history teaching, however the problem is that only a small number of teachers actually use multi perspectivity in their lessons. Many teachers are afraid of the new methodology and have reservations about lessons relying on an interactive approach. In Greece, since 2006 multi-perspectivity has been included in the curricula, but it is still not practised satisfactorily and in a comprehensive way. 


-Perceived needs and constraints for reform of history education.


Needs: More research on the impact of the Alternative Educational Materials and their capacity to contribute to the reform is needed. European Integration as an important topic was mentioned to be under represented in the curricula in the Balkans.


Constraints: The abuse of reform to history teaching in the media and for nationalistic agendas creates a great fear amongst politicians of the political costs of decisions towards real reform. 


Are there any plans to establish a regional cooperation or cross border initiatives regarding the history of the region, like the French German initiative for example and what are attitudes towards that?


The representatives from Serbia felt that it is very important to establish a regional cooperation, even if it still might not be the right time, but a cooperation with Croatia is urgently needed, following the example of the German French model, preferably initiated from out of the region.


In Greece, a cooperation has been established with Turkey and bilateral councils have been established with Turkey and Albania. 


-How can a better cooperation be achieved between ministries and civil society initiatives like the JHP?


Generally speaking, the cooperation with NGOs is welcomed, but challenged by nationalistic forces and by the fear of intervention into national politics, which is argued to happen via the donors of NGOs, which is considered to be especially sensitive in some of the countries when it comes to US donations.