Education at a new school in Dragoradi

1Lt. Michele Cortese
First published in
SFOR Informer#157, February 6, 2003

On Jan. 20, 2003 a ceremony took place to inaugurate a new school in the little village of Dragoradi, near Ilijas. The Italian CIMIC Unit planned and oversaw the refurbishing of the school that was seriously damaged over the war period. The European Union provided the funds. Children from Dragoradi now have their future in their hands.

Dragoradi - The Italian CIMIC Unit (ICU) performed another important public task by improving the living conditions of the Bosnian population, and especially the children. In fact, thanks to the precious work of the engineers, the children of this little municipality again have their own school.
Twenty kilometres less per day
About 40 children, aged between 6 and 10 years, now have the opportunity to attend the primary school without having to walk 20km every morning to the lessons. Before this project was implemented, they were not allowed to go to the local school, since it was badly damaged - just as the rest of the little village - over the years of the war. As a consequence they had to go to the nearby villages to get first school education.
The inauguration of the new structure took place on Jan. 22, 2003. Among the attendees were Brig. Gen. Ugo Di Napoli, Assistant to the Chief of Staff or Joint Military Affairs (ACOS JMA), HQ SFOR, and highest ranking Italian officer within the theatre; Col. Marcello Bellacicco, Commander of the German Italian Battle Group; Nuset Masic, Mayor of Ilijas; the local Minister of Instruction, and the local Minister for Displaced Persons and Refugees. The whole community of the village attended as well.
The local authorities expressed their gratitude, appreciation and satisfaction for the work done by the Italian Contingent, thanking the ICU and Italy itself for their commitment. They underlined the constant and essential initiatives undertaken by the Italian soldiers and by the Italian government, in order to bring humanitarian aid to the Bosnian population. The inhabitants of Dragoradi expressed their gratitude by a melody sung by the little pupils from the small municipality.
In conjunction with UNHCR
The European Union provided the funds, up to 850,000 Euros, for the implementation of this project. The ICU, led by Lt. Col. Pierluigi Spagna, planned and oversaw the project that was implemented by a local building firm. This precious intervention of the Italian soldiers guarantees an education with less difficulties to the children of Dragoradi and it also favours the return of Displaced Persons to this area. Over six years, under SFOR guidance, ICU has performed many important public tasks such as the reconstruction of the Law faculty in Sarajevo (in conjunction with the then French CIMIC Unit, now disbanded), primary and secondary schools in Mokro, Olovo, Pale, Podvitez, Rudo, Kalinovik and roads in Gorazde and Rogatica. Those operations were supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) programme for the return of displaced persons and refugees to their pre-war homes.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Italy

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Photos: WO1 Benedetto Savarino

The pupils of the school sing a melody to thank the Italian soldiers who gave their school back to them.

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The children are given new notebooks and new writing materials.

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The children of Dragoradi no longer have to walk 20 kilometers every day to attend lessons.

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The Commander of the German Italian Battle Group, Col. Bellacicco (c.), and the chief of the ICU, Lt. Col Spagna (r.), attended the event.