Joint History Project
The Joint History Project was the original CDRSEE programme and remains at the heart of everything we do. The JHP was launched in 1999, in an effort to change the way history is taught in schools across the Balkans. The founders – historians, diplomats, philanthropists — felt very strongly that to reach real reconciliation in the region, you have to reach the grass roots, the youth. The programme is therefore centred on education, on providing history-teaching materials for teachers that convey multiple perspectives of the same events, and on ensuring that these materials be put to use across the region.
Today, the JHP is the gold standard in multi-perspective history teaching. The foundation of the programme is a set of workbooks designed and written by the CDRSEE’s History Education Committee, prominent experts from all over the region. Currently there are four books, in 11 languages, which cover events and history through the Second World War. The second set of materials is currently in development and will cover the Cold War and the transition in Southeast Europe, including the Wars of the 1990s.
A crucial accomplishment, the CDRSEE has developed close working relationships with most of the Ministries of Education and Teacher Associations across the Balkans. Through these working relationships, the JHP provides on-going teacher training, outreach and media work. The number of teachers who have been trained to use the JHP materials and tailor the books and lessons to their classrooms continues to grow, and an estimated half a million students have been touched by the JHP over the years.
The JHP not only aims to revise ethnocentric school history lessons, but also encourages critical thinking and debate, celebrates diversity and recognises shared suffering and achievements.
In addition to receiving positive feedback from teachers and students, the JHP has been recognized and funded by more than 25 donors since its initiation. In 2013, the CDRSEE was awarded the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Human Rights Award, in large part for the impact the Center has had on expanding multi-perspective education through the JHP. The European Parliament recommended the JHP in 2009 for its impact and effectiveness, and the EU Monitoring Report of April 2012 acknowledged the excellent work achieved by the JHP in terms of sustainability, effectiveness and impact. In 2010, a team from USAID published a very positive overview of the work and impact of the JHP.
“Internationally, the History Workbooks have become effective advocacy tools for further raising awareness and putting on the EU policy agenda the importance of multi-perspective history teaching in promoting reconciliation,” the USAID report stated. “It is critical that the JHP work continue in order to sustain achievements and impacts, especially in the current context of nationalism that still exists in the region.”
The Joint History Project has been made possible through the kind financial assistance of the following: