|© UNICEF Serbia|
|Serbian Parliament Working Group for Child Rights in Pirot|
Pirot, 24 July 2009 - Headed by the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, Nikola Novakovic, members of the parliamentary Children’s Rights Working Group – MPs Bozidar Delic, Meho Omerovic, Snezana Sedlar Kening, Nikola Krpic and representatives of the Parliament’s secretariat, visited the municipality of Pirot. The aim of the visit, realised in cooperation with UNICEF with whom the National Assembly had signed a Memorandum of Understanding, was to help the MPs get an insight into the state of children and initiatives at the local level so that they can report back to Parliament on the actual needs on the ground.
Pirot is one of the Serbian municipalities which has adopted and is successfully implementing their Local Plan of Action for Children.
The MPs, parliamentary staff and UNICEF representatives met with the Mayor of Pirot, members of the municipal Team for the Local Plan of Action for Children and children - LPA team members. They also visited Educational Development Center for children “Pralipe”, which in cooperation with UNICEF organizes substantive pre-school and preparatory school programme for children living in poverty in general and the Roma children in particular.
Deputy Speaker Novakovic briefed the hosts about the activities of the parliamentary Working Group for Child Rights, stressing that their main task is to incorporate child rights into all functions of the Parliament - legislative, monitoring and representative.
He said that the composition of the Working Group for Child Rights – all parliamentary parties delegated representatives in this WG - showed the interest and engagement of the Parliament for child rights, and announced that the forthcoming new Law on the Parliament would institutionalise the Working Group as a standing body, unique in the Serbian Parliament.
Mayor of Pirot, Vladan Vasic gave an overview of the Pirot municipality strategic policy document on children and child rights. He stated that the Local Plan of Action was based on the key principles of the National Plan of Action for Children but had been adapted to the local needs and priorities.
The Pirot LPA focuses on the reduction of child poverty, improvement of quality of preschool and primary school education and better health for all children, as well as on improvement of the position and rights of children with disabilities, children without parental care and Roma children. “With UNICEF’s assistance, we have developed a data collection system which is used for monitoring the progress of the LPA implementation and as a tool for resource mobilisation”, Vasic said.
UNICEF Communication Officer and coordinator of the work with the Parliament, Jadranka Milanovic, stated that the establishment of close cooperation at legislative national and executive local level, as well as with independent child rights monitoring bodies, civil society organisations, UN and other international organisations, media and children was a key to the genuine efforts in protecting child rights. “Only in this way, when all forces in the country are engaged, can a true and lasting change for children occur”, she said.
The MPs had a constructive dialogue with the team of children and adolescents gathered in the “Zrak” (“Beam”) group who are participating in the implementation of the LPA. The children informed the guests of their activities, future plans and problems they are facing.
They sent a clear messages to the MPs and the municipal authorities that “children and young people are the present, not a distant future” and that they are the agents of change. “We want to take our lives in our hands”, they said. The MPs, on their side, helped children gain a better understanding of the role and work of the Parliament in general, and of the Working Group for child rights in particular.
An agreement was reached that the Pirot LPA peer group and their colleagues from other LPA municipalities would visit the Parliament in autumn.
|© UNICEF Serbia|
|Working Group for Child Rights of Serbian Parliament with LPA team in Pirot, South Serbia|