United for a Better Future: Education of the 21st Century

United World Colleges

“United World College makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.”

In the previous article of Women in Business series for Smartweek.it, I addressed the impact of girls’ education and the disparity between different levels of education among boys and girls.

However, I still felt the need to contribute more in order to raise awareness on the importance of education for socio-economic growth and general well-being of the society. What changed is that this time, I decided to do it on my own example.

Coming from Serbia, a small country in the Western Balkans with great national pride and tales of liberation wars still vivid in the eyes of many young people who grew up with the fictions built up through generations of storytelling, getting an education that was not biased and based on only one side of the specter was hard, if not even impossible.

There is one trait particular for every Balkan country and that is the stubbornness of its people. Changing the attitude of these countries towards their traditional nationalistic approach of looking at the past and breaking through the veil of typical educational models around here would mean opening a new chapter in the Balkan post-conflict reconstruction.

United World College in Mostar is just the type of high school that might prove to be crucial for the development of future generations that will lead the Balkan lands into a new era of political and economic stability.

UWC Mostar is part of an international educational organization – United World Colleges – containing 15 colleges in 15 different countries around the world under its umbrella. The roots of the organization date back to 1962 when the aim was to bring together young people from areas of post-conflict to act as champions of peace through an education based on shared learning, collaboration and understanding”. Needless to say that the objectives the college had back in the mid 20th century are equally relevant today. The number of UWC alumni goes up to 50 000 students from over 180 countries. These people have been some of the major catalysts for change in their home countries and beyond, proving that UWC approach to education really works. By bringing together young people from different cultural and national backgrounds, UWC succeeded in creating an educational environment based on mutual understanding and sharing of different views and ideas. Having an opinion is a freedom we all are entitled to, but having an understanding for other people and the way they think or believe is something you learn through living and sharing with them.

On my own personal experience in one of the UWC colleges, I felt the transformative power of international education and the enlightenment of one’s own intellect. It is truly inspiring and promising what kind of change the mutual dialog and heterogeneous environment in terms of religion, national and ethnical background could lead to. As a Serb, I can proudly say that my best friend is a Kosovar Albanian whom I visit every time we manage to get back home from our (hopefully) never ending journey of studying and living abroad. You can say it is a legacy UWC had left us with – travelling not to escape from life, but for life not to escape from us.

Regarding the academic curriculum, colleges offer mostly the two-year, pre-university International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program that is balanced together with the mandatory extracurricular activities. This way, the IB prepares its students for the rigorous university environment and the need to balance one’s personal and academic life. Students like to joke that you can never attain the holly trinity of Studying-Sleeping-Socializing and that you can only pick two.

As for the network of colleges, the locations are the following:

North America


Pearson College UWC – Canada


Waterford Kamhlaba UWC – Swaziland


UWC South East Asia – Singapore

UWC Changshu China – China

Li Po Chun UWC – Hong Kong

UWC Mahindra College – India


UWC Adriatic – Italy

UWC Atlantic College – UK

UWC Dilijan – Armenia

UWC Maastricht – The Netherlands

UWC in Mostar – Bosnia and Herzegovina

UWC Red Cross Nordic – Norway

UWC Robert Bosch College – Germany

South America

UWC Costa Rica – Costa Rica

A couple of days ago, Forbes magazine made a report about UWC Dilijan college in Armenia calling it“ A Lens Into The Future Of Education”. Also, some of the best universities in the world have acknowledged the value of UWC education long time ago and opened their doors to many UWC students.


If you know anyone from 16-19 years old who wants to see the world in a different light and take part of the world change, then they should apply to a United World College!

More information at the following link

Ana Lepojevic

Women in Business_Bocconi Female Students Association