UNICEF and partners launch campaign for schools free of violence
SKOPJE, 2 October 2011 - Hundreds of children and young people staged a flash mob at Skopje’s “Plostad Makedonija”, the city’s main square, to mark the beginning of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Ministry of Education and Science national campaign “Together for Schools Free of Violence".Calling for young people and others to begin by re-examining their own behavior, the young activists performed a unified dance routine to the campaign theme song entitled “It starts with you."
“Nothing has more power to provoke change than young people working together. The message that these young people sent today is one that calls on school leaders and staff, teachers, parents, and students themselves - to come together and take action to create a school environment where everyone feels respected, safe and valued,” said UNICEF Representative Sheldon Yett.
The “Together for Schools Free of Violence” campaign is part of a comprehensive programme that is re-examining how violent behaviour is managed in the education system, and in the community as a whole. It complements a national policy and strategy that is currently being finalized under the leadership of the Ministry of Education and Science and a training programme for school staff, teachers and parents that is being supported by UNICEF.
Emphasizing the need to ensure systemic and broad support for safe and protective school environments, Mr. Pance Kralev, Minister of Education and Science said, “Violence in schools cannot be eliminated with one single measure, it requires broad social responsibility.”
The first phase of the initiative started earlier this year with a song competition open to all children. Using the lyrics from the winners, the campaign theme song - performed by the popular musicians and UNICEF supporters, Jana Burcevska, Adrijan Gadza and the duo “Next Time”– calls on the whole school community to “Start with you, be the change you want to see”.
It calls on schools to develop a whole school approach to creating environments where violence is never tolerated. In everything they do – from managing the classroom, intervening when conflict and problems arise, to the teacher styles used – the campaign calls on teachers to set positive examples. Noting a general acceptance of bullying and other forms of violent behaviour among children; the campaign calls for a change in the way children themselves behave and also how they respond to violence.
“The message is clear - when you change, those close to you will also change – everyone needs to be an example of positive behavior so that together we can create schools free of violence,” said Jana Burcevska, a former finalist in the “Macedonian Idol” talent contest.
The UNICEF supported programme also recognizes that creating safer schools involves working to reduce family violence. The campaign urges parents to use positive methods to discipline children and to become actively engaged in school life.
“What happens in schools is the result of what happens in families. Therefore our strategy to reduce domestic violence is one of the basic strategic documents guiding our activities against violence,” said Mr. Spiro Ristevski, Minister of Labor and Social Policy.
The campaign - supported by over 20 local media outlets - will run until the end of November 2011. A special website has also been developed by and for schools, teachers, parents and children provides tools and resources for the whole school community.
Designed to promote child participation, the flash mob in Skopje was the first of 16 similar events in Kumanovo, Tetovo, Gostivar, Kocani, Stip, Radovis, Struga, Kicevo, Ohrid, Bitola, Strumica, Gevgelija, Kavadarci, Veles and Prilep. Children will also be given the opportunity to get their views and stories across in a One Minute Video Competition.
About the UNICEF supported “Schools free of Violence” system-wide programme:The campaign is part of a more comprehensive UNICEF programme being conducted with governmental and civil society partners to address the issue of violence in schools. UNICEF is also supporting the development of a national policy, strategy and guidance to help schools assess the problem and address violence in their school communities. School staff and teachers are also being trained to help them implement a “whole school approach” to prevent and reduce violence and to help teachers apply “behaviour for learning” techniques in classroom settings. It is expected that all primary schools will be trained by the end of the 2011/2012 school year. These interventions build on and complement the Life-Skills Education curriculum developed earlier to enhance communication and conflict resolution.
The “Schools free of Violence” campaign and programme is being jointly funded by IKEA as a contribution the national Child-Friendly Initiative and the UN Trust Fund as a contribution to the UN Joint Project “Strengthening National Capacities to Prevent Domestic Violence”.
For more information contact:
Suzie Pappas Capovska