Ambassador Hovenier’s Remarks at the Ribbon Cutting Event – Educational Partnership Hub for Inter-ethnic Collaboration at RIT Kosovo, January 29, 2024
Deputy Prime Minister Bislimi, Minister Nagavci, President Shahrabi, and distinguished guests.
I am delighted to join you to mark the start of an important U.S. government investment that speaks to our shared commitment to Kosovo’s successful and prosperous future.
This initiative has two critical goals:
- One: to encourage inter-ethnic collaboration through joint scientific learning opportunities and,
- Two: to equip Kosovans with the skills they need to advance the country’s economic and democratic development.
The American Schools and Hospitals Abroad or ASHA initiative is a long-standing USAID program that provides assistance to develop state-of-the-art schools, libraries, and hospital centers around the world.
This initiative reflects American ideals of educational excellence and opportunity and has potential to encourage further collaboration between the United States and other countries in higher education.
Building on our long-standing partnership with RIT, last year USAID awarded the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Kosovo a $670,000 grant to renovate and equip four Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math laboratories.
These new labs will give thousands of students from all ethnicities and from all parts of Kosovo the opportunity to learn together using American-standard scientific equipment, academic resources, and technical support.
This is a critical opportunity for Kosovo’s youth, particularly for young women from rural areas and non-majority communities who are often less likely to access opportunities like the ones we are so committed to providing.
Today, I’m honored to participate in the inauguration of these new labs.
But, moving beyond the ceremonial, we are here to mark the promise that the labs represent.
We know that younger generations of Kosovans look to the future, seeking new opportunities and imagining new possibilities.
In my conversations with many of them, I see their hope to move beyond, but never forget, the pain of the past.
These labs will help open up pathways to make that a reality – providing opportunities for interaction, collaboration, and the chance to find common ground and achieve common goals together.
The new labs will also increase the quality of education for Kosovo’s youth, helping to fill the skills gap in Kosovo’s workforce.
This will accelerate the realization of an inclusive, vibrant, and modern Kosovan economy.
The municipality of Kamenica is a trailblazer for this new initiative. Kamenica is a community made up of multiple ethnic groups.
Kamenica will be the first municipality in Kosovo to train teachers and students to use the equipment, enhancing their traditional curricula with a practical dimension.
I want to encourage the leadership of other municipalities to follow in Kamenica’s footsteps!
In fact, let me get slightly directive for a moment to all municipal officials who are present:
- Please take advantage of RIT’s new labs.
- Please provide young people – from all backgrounds – in your community the opportunity to enrich their lives.
- Together with the RIT team, please help create an environment that will support and encourage unity across Kosovo’s diverse tapestry of citizens.
I look forward to hearing about how this initiative achieves progress and success on some of Kosovo’s greatest development challenges.
Thank you very much.