PRESS RELEASE 2014-04-04

aces – and the OSCAR goes to…

From 1 to 4 April almost 300 students and teachers, representatives of Ministries of Education as well as trainers and educational experts from all participating countries came together at the aces Academy in Senec.
The Academy of Central European Schools (aces) is one of the biggest school networks in Europe consisting of 15 partner countries.
photo by Katarina Jesna-Smikova

More than 500 schools participated in this year’s aces project contest on the topic “Diversity”. 44 projects were selected and received a grant for their implementation. At the aces Academy the schools presented the outcomes of their work and an international jury of experts awarded the most outstanding projects in five categories.

Winner in the category International Cooperation is the projects “The More The Merrier” of the NOVA International Schools from Skopje, Macedonia and Colegiul National Gheorghe Sincai, Bucharest, Romania. It is an excellent example of students working together on a variety of activities and creating a joint performance that was the result of their increased awareness and knowledge around the topic of diversity.

Winner in the category Innovative Learning is the project “The Power of Difference” of the Mejdunarodna Gimnazija Prof. Dr. Vassil Zlatarski from Sofia, Bulgaria and Privatno Sredno Uciliste Peta Privatna Gimnazija from Skopje, Macedonia. Using a wide range of creative activities and trying out new approaches enabled the students to recognise what is important for a society to embrace diversity.

Winner in the category Civil Courage is the project “Improving the Positon of Women in our Society” of the Srednja ekonomsko-trgovinska škola from Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Srednja elektrotehnička škola Vaso Aligrudić from Podgorica, Montenegro. The students conducted high level research on this challenging issue, and showed great courage to speak out and engage different organisations in both countries with the results of their work.

Winner in the category Student Participation is the project “Different? Wonderful!” of Mileniumi i Trete from Pristina, Kosovo, Gimnazija Bežigrad from Ljubljana, Slovenia and Gymnazium Lipany from Lipany, Slovak Republic. The students showed a high level of flexibility and changed the focus of their work towards a more active approach in order to reach a wider audience and a greater level of impact.

Winner in the category Diversity (topic of the year) is the project “ Laugh with me, not at me” of the Osnovna Šola Vransko-Tabor from Vransko, Slovenia and Scoala Gimnaziala Sfantul Apostol Andrei from Buzau, Romania. Through a range of activities with marginalised and vulnerable members of society, students raised awareness of discrimation and exclusion, and actively worked on these issues to support social inlcusion.

Patronage of the Council of Europe for aces Academy in Senec
For the first time the aces Academy took place under the auspices of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Mr. Thorbjørn Jagland. Besides the presentation and evaluation of the results of their school partnership projects, the participants had time to share their experiences and lessons learned. Various workshops were offered in which they got to know alternative methods of learning and teaching as well as useful tools to encourage student participation and civil courage or to deal with diversity issues in schools and their surroundings.

One of the largest school networks in Central Europe
aces was founded in 2006 by ERSTE Foundation in cooperation with the Austrian NGO Interkulturelles Zentrum. Today the network consists of 15 partner countries all over Central and South Eastern Europe and is coordinated by Interkulturelles Zentrum and the association VČELÍ DOM from Slovakia. aces encourages and supports cross-border school cooperation by carrying out a project contest for school partnerships. The next call for project proposals will be launched in 2015.
Contact (for media inquiries):

ERSTE Foundation, Communications
Maribel Königer, phone +43 (0) 50100-15453, mail:
Andreea Gurău, phone +43 (0) 50100 – 19614, mail:

Interkulturelles Zentrum, Communications
Barbara Hämmerle, phone +43 (0)1/586 75 44 -12, mail:

Danica Lacová, phone +421 (0)2 2086 2286, mail:

ERSTE Foundation
In 2003, ERSTE Foundation evolved out of the Erste Oesterreichische Spar-Casse, the first Austrian savings bank. Currently, ERSTE Foundation is the main shareholder of Erste Group. The foundation invests part of its dividends in the development of societies in Austria and Central and South Eastern Europe. It supports social participation and civil-society engagement; it aims to bring people together and disseminate knowledge of the recent history of a region that has been undergoing dramatic changes since 1989. As an active foundation, it develops its own projects within the framework of three programmes: Social Development, Culture and Europe. Further information:

Interkulturelles Zentrum
Interkulturelles Zentrum (IZ) is an independent non-profit organisation based in Vienna/Austria. Since 1987 IZ has been supporting international school partnerships, cross-border cooperation in the field of education, international youth work as well as intercultural education and diversity management in Austria and abroad.

Notable projects such as aces or YouthNET promote the intercultural dialogue of countries of the European Union with countries in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. Since January 2007 Interkulturelles Zentrum has been hosting the National Agency for the EU programme “Youth in Action”. The IZ is led by a full-time management team and an honorary board of directors made up of experts.

VČELÍ DOM is a non-profit civic association established in May 2009 in Bratislava with the aim to support and develop initiatives which help society to meet the challenges of a new and united Europe. The association plays an active role in unveiling existing resources and creating new ones that can help stimulate cultural and social life in the Slovak Republic, and in other countries, especially in Central and South Eastern Europe. The effort of VČELÍ DOM is concentrated on the development of strategies, creation of platforms, support and organisation of projects for the common good in Slovakia and abroad. The strengthening of civil society and the dialogue within Europe is an important goal of the association. Further information: