Children take over a high-level Government meeting

20 November 2020
Moderator stands behind a speaking booth looking back at a large screen where an online event is live streamed
UNICEF/2020

Skopje, 20 November 2020: Today, on World Children’s Day six young advocates joined the Government at an online High-Level Government Meeting “For Children, By Children” and took over the discussion focusing on one of the most pressing issues: Reimagine Quality Education and Building Back Education Better post COVID-19.

Every year on 20 November – to mark the signing of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child – we celebrate World Children’s Day, an annual day of action for children, by children.

This year, the President of the Government, Zoran Zaev together with the Ministers of Education and Science, Labour and Social Policy, Environment and Physical Planning, the Head of the Delegation of the European Union and UNICEF Representative joined the meeting to listen to young people and engage in discussion on themes selected by children themselves. The themes included: quality teaching, reducing the digital divide in education, mental health and bullying in education, learning skills vs memorizing facts, eco-schools and equity and inclusive education.

 “We are firmly committed to design an education system that will nurture children’s ability for critical thinking and drawing conclusions based on facts, evidence and analyses. The education we want should ensure children become adults who respect and nurture civic rights, tolerance and differences in the spirit of multiculturalism,” said Zoran Zaev, President of the Government.

“In order to build the next generation that is able to engage in society and – find fulfilment by doing so – it’s necessary to have an education system fit for purpose. That’s a huge challenge everywhere - in the European Union and here in North Macedonia,” said Ambassador David Geer, Head of EU Delegation.

 “Today is not about how we can return to ‘normal’ after the pandemic, it’s about how we can build back better because we know ‘normal’ was never good enough. Today is about listening to young people, recognizing that they have enormous insights on how they see a better future for themselves and for future generations and it’s up to us to hear and take into consideration what they have to say, “ said Patrizia Di Giovanni, UNICEF Representative.

Young people highlighted the following issues:

  • As students learning needs evolve, teaching methodology should change as well – Kristijan Popovski, youth advocate called for improving the quality of teaching, better use of new technologies and modernisation of teaching methodology
  • The place of living should not be a barrier for education equity – Kudret Ferizi, youth advocate called for reducing the digital divide in education especially affecting poor and those living in rural areas.
  • We want to live in a society which will look at mental health issues with empathy – Sara Kovacevska raised the issue of mental health and bullying in education.
  • Students should not be passive listeners, but active contributors at the school classes - Erona Azizi spoke about how students can learn more effectively.
  • The use of solar energy will not only decrease the CO2 air emission; it will contribute to increased financial independence of our schools - Vasil Handziski called for eco-friendly schools and students.
  • We can’t have inclusive education without having before that empathy and sense of solidarity among students - Hristina Jovcevska raised the issues of inclusive education.

In the discussion that followed, Government officials confirmed that they will work to address the ideas and suggestions made and that additional meetings and debates would be organized with young people to further explore the proposed solutions.

"We adults are here to listen to the voice of all students and young people in the country. This Government is committed to introducing systems that are sustainable and work. We are working to  change the curricula for primary and secondary education, strengthening inclusive education,  strengthening and investing in teachers. These are very important in the whole educational process and transfer of knowledge to students," said Mila Carovska, Minister of Education and Science.

“I’m really pleased that we have these events to directly listen to the views and suggestions of the children. After all, the Convention on the Rights of the Child calls for strengthening child participation in all issues affecting them. Together with the Prime Minister and our colleagues in the Government, we will find more ways to listen to the voice of children when creating public policies. Because children are the future of the world,” said Jagoda Shahpaska, Minister of Labor and Social.  

“Clean air is not a political issue and we need to find a common solution. It is our responsibility to work on long-term strategies. The future belongs to you, but also to my child,” said Naser Nuredini, Minister of Environment and Physical Planning.

The first national takeover took place in 2019 when young advocates – representing their peers – took over the discussion, speaking with passion and conviction on issues they care about including: quality education, inclusion of children and youth, youth (un)employment and brain-drain, participation and engagement, violence and mental health and the climate crisis. 

In addition to takeover event, to mark World Children’s Day,  over 10 buildings and landmarks in Skopje turned up blue as a symbolic gesture of their commitment to advance the rights of children – the Government, Parliament, EU Delegation, UNICEF, Ministry of Education and Science, Archaeological Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Halkbank, Ramstore Mall, Italian Embassy and others were among those who joined the initiative. 

Media contacts

Suzie Pappas Capovska
Tel: (02) 3231-244
Irina Ivanovska
Tel: (02) 3231-172

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For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.mk.

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