Young people in the Parliament say that they are both the present and future of Montenegro
The Simulation of the Work of Parliament
I would like to say to you and to everyone present here that young people are the future of Montenegro only when they take responsibility for the present. Therefore, it is important that young people are more represented in the decision-making process and consulted at least as an advisory body, before taking any important decisions for the state of Montenegro, but also decisions related to youth in general.
This was the message from Mitar Paunovic, one of the participants in the Simulation of the Work of Parliament, a message that was heard yesterday in the Parliament during interaction by young people with the President of the Parliament of Montenegro, Aleksa Becic, and the UNICEF Representative to Montenegro, Juan Santander.
The secondary school students recommended that university students get involved in the work of the Parliament of Montenegro and be given higher positions on the electoral lists, as well as that they be given more opportunities to deal in more detail with issues that are of importance for them. They added that they want more opportunities to participate in the decision-making processes related to policies and laws that impact the quality of their lives both today and in the future.
President Becic promised that he would continue to make sure that the voices of young people are heard more and that they are included in the decision-making process and lead the processes in Montenegro. He added that the young generations should learn from an early age that the essence is to be found in dialogue, tolerance and respect for all the differences on which Montenegro is based and that a compromise should always be sought.
“I wholeheartedly encourage you, I fight for this, I stand for this – that is essentially why I took up politics – just to make sure that young people take their place in the society that belongs to them,” President Becic said.
The UNICEF Representative to Montenegro, Juan Santander, pointed out that the right to vote in elections is granted at different ages in different countries, but that the most important thing is that, regardless of whether someone is 16, 18 or 100, everyone has the right to participate in the decision-making processes that affect their lives. That right also entails responsibility, Santander said.
“This means that you must use your right to vote in a very responsible manner, which means that you must inform yourself, develop certain skills, get to understand the system, as you are doing today, and make an informed decision and actively participate in the work and life of a society. That is how virtually every society works, for the benefit of each of us. The sum of all of us is greater than the sum of individuals,” Santander pointed out.
One of the participants, Nadja Lalovic, was interested in how the Parliament of Montenegro and UNICEF intend to contribute to this project so that it can reach as many young people as possible and whether a simulation of the work of the Parliament can be introduced as a mandatory subject course in schools so that the topics discussed during the two-day simulation could reach as many young people as possible.
President Becic answered that everything that was the subject of work and learning during this two-day event should find its place in the system of education.
We are a parliamentary democracy; parliamentarism is something that forms the basis of our Constitution, our system and the process of democratic maturation we are going through. I think that young people, that is, our secondary school students, need to learn a lot more about parliamentarism, because it seems to me that this kind of knowledge has helped you during these two days, including in the days and months during which you were preparing for this event, to see and understand how important dialogue is. We get to learn about the essence of dialogue every day – to what extent it is possible, how much compromise is needed, and how necessary it is to respect differences.
Santander added that these types of simulations should be offered to every child across the country and that UNICEF would continue to support the Parliament of Montenegro in order to make this initiative even better every year and to foster the participation of adolescents with different life experiences from all parts of the country. UNICEF is calling for an increase in public funding for initiatives promoting the active participation of young people in society, as all state institutions share the responsibility to support it and thus strengthen young people’s trust in institutions. Santander pointed out that it was crucial to include members of the most vulnerable groups, such as girls and boys growing up in poverty, members of ethnic minorities, adolescents with disabilities, etc.
As the President of the Parliament said himself, this very diversity is an opportunity to expand our knowledge. Socio-emotional skills, respect for human rights, the perception of diversity as a value are of fundamental importance in order to achieve meaningful participation of all parts of society in the life of a country.
Certificates of participation in the programme were presented to the secondary school students by the President of the Parliament of Montenegro, Aleksa Becic.
Maja Vukicevic, Boris Mugosa, Marko Milacic, and Dejan Djurovic, members of the Parliament of Montenegro, who served as mentors, also contributed to the successful implementation of the Simulation.
During their two-day work at the Parliament, the students of Slobodan Skerovic General Secondary School and Mirko Vesovic Economics Secondary School had the opportunity to learn about the stages in the process of adopting a law. With the help of the Parliament Service, the secondary school students simulated the work on the law by participating in the constitutive session, the work of parliamentary clubs, other working bodies and plenary sessions.
The simulation of the work of the Parliament is being organized for the first time this year in the Parliament of Montenegro, as a result of cooperation between the Education Centre of the Parliament of Montenegro and the UNICEF office in Montenegro. UNICEF Montenegro provided financial and expert support during the piloting phase, after which the Education Centre of the Parliament will take over to implement the programme with its own capacities.