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School for Political Studies

Date: 01.08.2016

Prishtina School of Political Studies was established to train future generations of political, economic, social and cultural leaders, with a focus on building a modern, democratic political culture, offering a space for dialogue and exchange between current and upcoming leaders active in a variety of spheres (including, political, economic, social, media, cultural and environmental). The School of Political Studies was established in Prishtina in 2003 by a group of civil society activists seeking to promote democratic values.

In broad terms, the work of the School addresses issues of democracy, the rule of law and human rights. Participants of the Schools’ training cycles are selected from a wide range of social and political stakeholder groups including political parties, public administration, civil society, media, minority groups and business. In this way, the School brings together stakeholders from all parts of society who otherwise rarely communicate with each other.

The School often has the reputation for providing a form and quality of education unavailable through the institutions of formal education in the country.

The School is hosted by Prishtina Institute for Political Studies which conducts a wider range of civic education functions in the country. PIPS is supported by a wider range of donors and partners than just the Council of Europe. The Council of Europe provides financial and technical support to the organization to run the Schools’ programmes, comprising a basic cycle of three national seminars per year and a range of other activities related to the development of democratic leadership and discourse in the country. Beyond activities with participants of the current training cycles, the School organises activities with Alumni and events for wider audiences. Furthermore, the School organises a series of bilateral, regional meetings and international conferences each year, with the support of the Council of Europe and the Association of Schools. A selection of participants of each training cycle have the opportunity to attend the World Forum for Democracy organised by the Council of Europe annually.

The educational focus of the School work can broadly be described as democratic principles and practices. The issues the Schools’ training cycles and other events address are wide-ranging and include: good governance, electoral processes, participatory democracy, conflict prevention instruments and techniques, conciliation and dialogue, regional co-operation, principles of European integration and the expansion of the EU, etc. They also examine global challenges such as: combating terrorism and organised crime, environmental protection, the role of new technologies and their impact on the functioning of democratic societies. Moreover, emphasis is placed on developing practical leadership skills, for example in management, communication and public speaking.

The School admits a group of 30-35 (new) leaders to each annual cycle. They are selected for their level of civic, social or professional responsibility, taking into account relevant political, social, geographical and ethnic factors in the country. Gender balance is also a key criterion in the composition of each new cohort. The seminar ‘educators’, who are recognised experts in their area of professional activity, are practitioners in a variety of fields, politicians, public officials, academics, journalists, entrepreneurs and representatives of the European and global institutions in the countries concerned.

The School also makes efforts to maintain relations with and actively engage its Alumni community. These communities of former participants support the Schools in many ways, strengthen co-operation and links both amongst current participants and with previous participants. Many of the steadily growing number of school alumni attain high-level positions, and are in a position to act as multipliers for the values the School represent.

Prishtina School for Political Studies is part of the wider network of the Schools of Political Studies established by Council of Europe. The network counts 21 Schools spanning the whole of Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and part of the Southern Mediterranean region. Each School has its particular history and operates in a specific environment. Their priorities and programmes are influenced by the history of their countries, the nature of the political system in each, by an ongoing, recent or less recent democratic transition and by the level of democratic political culture of the institutions of government and of the broader society. As a result, each School develops its educational work independently, in accordance with the circumstances and needs it sees in the respective country. At the same time, the Schools share some key objectives, especially in the work they conduct with the support of the Council of Europe. Recognising that there is potential added value in mutual exchange of experience, the Directors of the Schools of Political Studies founded the Association of Schools of Political Studies in 2008. The Association’s aim is to strengthen ties and promote the networking among the Schools. Endowed with a legal framework, the Network communicates with a voice of its own, and engages in developmental activities relevant to all Schools. The Association, and its website, play an important role in supporting communication among participants and alumni of the Schools’ activities.