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Day One - OneMinutesJr workshop in Skopje starts

© Chris Schuepp / UNICEF / 2008
Children at the workshop during a presentation on different forms of violence in schools.

Time again for another OneMinutesJr workshop: This time we are in Skopje, the capital of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. 16 children aged 12 to 14 have come to the old "Pioneer House" where the workshop is held. The topic is "Violence in schools" and UNICEF Skopje will use the films later this year through the local and national media when they launch a campaign against violence in schools.

The children come from three different secondary schools in Skopje and they all have their little (or even some of them bigger) stories to tell. After a round of introductions, Nikolina Kenig takes the floor. Nikolina is a professor at the University of St. Cyril and Methodius in Skopje and works with UNICEF as senior expert on the "Child-friendly schools" project. She gives the teenagers a good background of the different forms of violence in schools - physical, psychological and sexual. Nikolina is also very good in starting a discussion and so the workshop participants soon open up and tell what they have experienced so far.

This makes it much easier for the two trainers to develop the stories with the children after they have received another short introduction to the OneMinutesJr project, the history of film-making and some insights into how to film and edit a short movie.

After the lunch break, it is time for the in-depth story development. Filip (14) volunteers to be the first to come to the trainers and tell his story. He is wearing two earrings, which is quite unusual for a boy in Macedonia. And of course, this puts him up for some severe bullying in school. Filip tells us how he was attacked by a group of other students who tried to pull his earrings out and then started beating him up. Filip ran away and "escaped", but the attack left him angry and scared. Now he will write a rap about the incident, film some of the scenes and edit them together with the rap.

© Chris Schuepp / UNICEF / 2008
The whole group of participants outside the workshop venue in Skopje, getting ready to film their stories.

Milan (12) also has an interesting story, but this time it is not peer-to-peer violence but a violent teacher who plays the main character in the film. A boy forgot his pens at home when he is supposed to take a written test. He asks the teacher for a pen, but the teacher starts screaming at him, pulls his ear and throws him out of the class. The next thing you see is that the teacher gets called to the director of the school where he is sanctioned for a physical attack on the student.

After listening to all the stories on this first day of the workshop, Mario's story could be one of the best and most intriguing films in the end. Mario (13) tells us that there is no violence in his school. "Well, some poking and ear-pulling, but nothing big. Ok, some teachers have a stick or threaten us, but nothing happens." Suzie Pappas Capovska, Communications Officer for UNICEF in Skopje, has heard it all before: "That is one of the main problems here, that these forms of violence are accepted. People don't even consider them violence anymore and it is difficult to do a campaign against something that is widely accepted in the country. But it doesn't change the fact that this is violence and that it does harm the children."

Now, the idea for Mario's film is that he sits on a chair with a white background and tells the same story again, that there is no violence and so on. While in the meantime, other students and teachers walk behind him, pull his ears, slap his head and do all sorts of other nasty things to him. Yet, Mario will try to keep a straight face and reconfirm that violence in schools is not an issue for him. Whether or not he will succeed, we will see tomorrow when we start the real action and get out the cameras.

Chris Schuepp - Skopje - October 26, 2008

Watch the presentation on violence in schools (in Macedonian)



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