Education plays an important role in bridging divisions and promoting positive intergroup relations. A number of initiatives aimed at improving relations in conflict-affected societies have been based on the contact hypothesis. However, very little attention has been devoted to the potential of such interventions to reduce social distance between groups. Moreover, the voices of the young people involved in such programmes have rarely been taken into consideration. This paper tries to address these gaps using a qualitative methodology. It presents the views and experiences of post-primary pupils involved in planned educational contact encounters in two countries that have experienced interethnic violence: Northern Ireland and the Republic of North Macedonia. The findings suggest that planned contact can be effective in reducing social distance. However the programmes need to provide opportunities for more frequent meetings, more personalized communication between pupils, and the sensitive exploration of contentious issues to ensure long-lasting changes.