Academy of Central European Schools honours outstanding cross-border school initiatives

On June 2nd, 2016, five cross-border school projects received awards for special achievements by the Academy of Central European Schools (aces). aces promotes innovative learning and cross-border school cooperation in Central Europe. At the aces Academy in Senec, an international jury selected the most outstanding projects in terms of student participation, international cooperation, civil courage, innovative learning and solidarity.

aces was founded by the ERSTE Foundation in order to foster cross-border cooperation between schools in Central and South Eastern Europe. Since 2006 more than 4.000 teachers, almost 30.000 students and 516 schools have participated in aces and it has become one of the largest school networks in the region. aces involves a grant scheme for school projects and organises international network events. Solidarity was the main theme of the last aces project contest: “We decided on the topic long before large numbers of refugees came to Central Europe and triggered the impressive reactions of the civil society in the various European countries. It seemed ever more important to us to encourage students and teachers to deal with the topic solidarity”, explains Robin Gosejohann, project manager of ERSTE Foundation.


100 schools participated successfully in the aces competition and received a grant for the implementation of their project ideas. The results and main outcomes of these cross-border school initiatives were presented at the aces Academy in Senec. More than 250 students, teachers and education experts from 15 different countries participated in this network event. An inspiring programme full of project presentations, story-telling, workshops and self-directed learning awaited them. The highlight of the conference was the aces Ceremony where the most inspiring and outstanding projects were awarded.

The aces awards went to:

  • in the category “Student Participation”:

We are Charlie, we are Mohammed, we are Roma- solidarity includes everyone

Project schools:
Újpesti Két Tanítási Nyelvű Műszaki Szakközépiskola És Szakiskola
Budapest, Hungary
Klagenfurt, Austria
Medicinska Škola Ante Kuzmanića Zadar
Zadar, Croatia

Under the impression of the terror attacks of Paris and Copenhagen the project focused on three groups that need solidarity: The first one were religious groups like Moslems or Jews, the second were groups with different ethnic backgrounds like immigrants or ethnic minorities and the third were those that fight for the freedom of journalism reporting about all these groups. The project was mainly managed by the students. They did a lot of research, interviews, workshops and excursions and really put an effort into learning more about the life and current situation of these minority groups in their countries. They shared their findings among each other and published them online as well as in a joint brochure.

  • in the category “Civil Courage”

Hold my Hand

Project schools:
JU Osnovna Skola Cazin II
Cazin, Bosnia&Herzegovina
Prishtine, Kosovo

The project dealt with the needs of children with fewer opportunities and special needs, like children living in socially handicapped families, children who quit their education, children with difficulties in learning. The jury was impressed by the cooperation of these two schools from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo and the various activities the students did: “This project is a genuine response of young people to the difficult social and political situation of two countries and societies. To quote one of the participants: Relations between Kosovo and Bosnia are not good but we did better. This project has shown a deep connection with the topic solidarity with a number of courageous activities addressing war issues, landmines, bullying, etc.”

  • in the category “International Cooperation”

Fractal Solidarity – Whistle around, not vulnerable, not alone, not weak but special and unique

Project schools:
Tehniški Šolski Center Maribor
Maribor, Slovenia
Tehnička Škola Zmaj Zemun
Belgrade, Serbia
JU Smš 17. Septembar
Žabljak, Montenegro

In this project the involved schools had chosen a science-oriented approach to deal with the topic solidarity. They looked into natural phenomena as well as mathematical sets which exhibit repeating patterns. The jury praised the several ways the students used to connect with each other, work together and find solutions to various issues.

  • in the category “Innovative Learning”

Your voice could also be a part of the solution

Project schools:
Osnovna Škola Sveti Petar Orehovec
Sveti Petar Orehovec/ Križevci, Croatia
Osnovna Škola Ivo Andrić
Pranjani/ Gornji Milanovac, Serbia

The project supported blind children in their education. The students created two audio books and plenty of other educational materials for this special target group.

  • in the category “Solidarity”

See the face behind the label

Project schools:
Mejdunarodna Gimnazija Prof. Dr. Vassil Zlatarski
Sofia, Bulgaria
Gimnazija Rudjer Boksovic
Belgrade, Serbia

In this project the students collected personal stories of elderly people and refugees. What the jury impressed first and foremost was the effort by the project participants to go beyond the label and see the real face of people, as to how they are, their realities and what they stand for. They visited homes of elderly, interviewed refugees in the camps, organised a charity event and a photo exhibition and even a cooking course of Pakistani food. Some of them even wanted to become active as volunteers in the refugee camps.

aces – Academy of Central European Schools is an initiative of ERSTE Foundation coordinated by Interkulturelles Zentrum in cooperation with Nadácia Slovenskej sporitel’ne associated with Danube Region Strategy.

photos: group picture, aces winners 2016