Roma becomes first European to win Student Peace Prize
The Student Peace Prize 2011 is awarded to the 36-year-old teacher education student Duško Kostic, for his efforts to improve conditions for the Roma in Croatia.
The Student Peace Prize is awarded to a student or a student organisation that has made an exceptional contribution to peace and human rights. It is awarded on behalf of all students in Norway.
The prize has been awarded since 1999. In this year’s award committee were four student representatives and, among other members, former chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize committee Ole Danbolt Mjøs.
In a Roma population that is troubled by high levels of school dropouts, Duško Kostic tries to reverse the trend of high dropout rates among Roma pupils. He does this through home visits and close follow-up of both children and parents.According the the Peace Prize secretariat, 94 percent of the school children taking part in Kostic’s projects complete primary education, and several have started higher education.
Bert Vandenkendelaere, Chairperson of the European Students’ Union said: “Kostic and his work highlight two important issues. The first is that education is crucial for groups who are trying to overcome discrimination and social exclusion. The second is the extraordinary role that students can play in changing their societies.
“In order to overcome prejudices and become accepted, students from underrepresented and discriminated groups must usually make much bigger efforts than others. Education at all levels can and must play a key role in such efforts.”
Duško Kostic has been elected to the City Council of his hometown Beli Manastir, which lies on the boarder between Croatia, Serbia and Hungary. There he represents the local Roma population and initiates projects for social change.
“Kostic’s work is an inspiration to minorities in all of Europe”, says Eirik Vikum, Director of the Student Peace Prize secretariat.
ESU congratulates the laureate, and looks forward to welcoming both Kostic and former peace prize laureates during the Student Peace Prize Conference in Brussels and Paris on February 4-7.
For more information and updates, see studentpeaceprize.org.
ESU Chairperson Bert Vandenkendelaere
firstname.lastname@example.org or +32473669892
Director of The Student Peace Prize Secretariat Eirik Vikum
email@example.com or +47 917 49 414