On May 21, 2018, USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia Gretchen Birkle joined U.S. Defense Attaché Lieutenant Colonel Eric Rice, Mayor of Kavadarci Mitko Jancev, representatives of USAID’s Youth Ethnic Integration project, and members of the Kavardaci business community for a ribbon-cutting ceremony inaugurating a new concert hall and marking the completion of Lazo Micev Rale Music School’s renovation.
The concert hall and school renovation were financed jointly by USAID and the U.S. European Command in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science, the Municipality of Kavadarci, and the local business community.
“I am proud of the robust partnership that has been established between the Department of Defense, USAID, local governments, and communities to renovate schools. Through our partnership, the Department of Defense has invested over $1.5 million since 2011 to renovate 63 schools–including yours—while working with USAID and local communities to build ethnic cohesion in Macedonia,” Birkle said. “Children deserve a safe, welcoming school building, and I think with this renovation the children from the mincipality of Kavardaci now have that. We value your dedication and contribution and stand ready, as a partner, to provide assistance needed to reinforce an appreciation for diversity necessary in a multi-ethnic society”.
In his remarks, Mayor Jancev emphasized the importance of strengthening interethnic integration and civic values among young people, so that they can be active participants in their communities and build strong links with their peers from different background.
These renovations were funded through USAID’s Primary Education and Interethnic Integration in Education projects supported by the U.S. European Command, both of which have now ended.
However, building on successes such as this, the Youth Ethnic Integration project will choose an additional 50 schools for renovation based on need and accomplishment in the area of ethnic integration and demonstrated civic skills and behaviors at the school and community level.