UNICEF welcomes government endorsement of national strategy for prevention of violence in schools
SKOPJE, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 2 October 2012 - Speaking at a local primary school, the Minister of Education and Science, Mr Pance Kralev and the Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Mr Spiro Ristovski, together with the mayor of the municipality of Gazi Baba, Mr Toni Trajkovski and the UNICEF Representative, Mr Sheldon Yett, presented today the National Strategy for Reducing Violence in Schools. The strategy, which emphasizes prevention and introduces new accountability mechanisms for both the Ministry of Education and schools, was adopted by the Government on 25 September.
“The National Strategy establishes a roadmap for the creation of a safe and healthy school environment necessary for the psycho-social and emotional development of all students, an environment necessary for students to achieve their full potential,” said Mr Yett.
Developed by a working group established by the Ministry of Education and Science with UNICEF support, the aim of the three-year strategy is to provide the right conditions for the prevention of all types of violence in the school through creating a warm and stimulating school environment and promoting tolerance in schools.
"The Strategy builds on the joint responsibility and harmonized institutional action of all actors at national, local and school level. The education system plays a key role in preventing violence in schools. In the context of a de-centralized education system, it is exceptionally important for the Ministry of Education and Science, municipalities and schools to have a harmonized approach," said Mr Pance Kralev, Minister of Education and Science.
With the involvement and cooperation of all education stakeholders at the central, local and school level the strategy will guide preventive actions around four main segments: supporting safe school environment; strengthening the capacities for prevention of violent behavior; building mechanisms for intervention in cases of violence, and strengthening collaboration between the Bureau for Education Development, the State Education Inspectorate, and the Centre for Vocational Education.
“We applaud the endorsement of the strategy and the necessary training of staff,” said Mr. Yett. “We look forward to the sustained support at the central, municipal and school level to ensure that the benefits of the strategy lead to better learning environments for children. “
In order to systematically embrace the approach of prevention and protection versus control and punishment, all schools in the country are expected to develop a protocol and action plan for prevention and reduction of violence and to involve students in the creation of the action plan and policy.
The policy also introduces accountability mechanisms, including an obligation for the Ministry of Education and Science to provide quarterly status reports to the Government on the nationwide status of the development and implementation of these action plans.
An integral part of the strategy is a protocol for security and procedures in cases of violence. This practical tool for schools provides practical and detailed guidance to schools on the approach they need to take and on measures and activities contributing to safe learning environment.
The Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Mr. Spiro Ristovski underlined the importance of a multi-sector cooperative approach. “All relevant actors involved in the prevention of violence against children must work together including civil society sector and local self-government bodies,” he said.
The National Strategy for Reducing Violence in Schools is a component of a broader UNICEF supported programme for "Prevention and Reduction of Violence in Schools" that works on strengthening the capacity of the education system as a whole for reducing violence in schools. This programme included training of staff in all primary and secondary schools and support to developing school policies and practices for preventing and reducing school violence.
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Suzie Pappas Capovska