At the World Children’s Day, Kids Takeover the Assembly

UNICEF and the Assembly of North Macedonia organized a high-level event “Kids Takeover the Assembly” where parliamentarians heard directly from children and young people about their most pressing issues, needs and concerns.

20 November 2023
UNICEF/North Macedonia/Georgiev/2023

Skopje, 20 November 2023: At the World Children’s Day, UNICEF and the Assembly of North Macedonia organized a high-level event “Kids Takeover the Assembly” where parliamentarians heard directly from children and young people about their most pressing issues, needs and concerns.

Some 50 children and young people at the age of 14 and 19 from across the country, took over the Parliament session opening discussion on three topics that they have identified themselves as the most important issues facing children and young people today. The topics included quality of education, the situation with the mental health of children and young people and participation in decision making that affect children’s life.

The President of the Assembly, Talat Xhaferi and UNICEF Representative, Patrizia DiGiovanni gave the opening remarks after which children took over the Parliament Session.

The President of the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia, Talat Xhaferi, said that it is unfortunate that adults did not build a safer world for all children, a world in which no child will be deprived of a warm family, peaceful sleep in their home, a hot meal and quality health care.

"Today, we adults will listen carefully to what you share and focus on improving conditions in education, mental health and participation in policy making. No child should be left out of the education system. I think your participation in policy making will bring vigor. I support you in fulfilling the goal of establishing a national Youth Assembly, which can be an engine for creating youth policies as best as possible," said Mr. Xhaferi.

“Giving children the space to be part of the solution and part of the democratic debate on matters important to them is perhaps one of the greatest signs of progress that we as a country can celebrate,” said Partizia DiGiovanni, UNICEF Representative. “Advancing the rights of every child – whoever they are, wherever they come from – is important for children today, but it is also the best way to build a more peaceful, prosperous, and just world for everyone.”

The Кids Тakeover offered an occasion for the Assembly to reaffirm its cross-party commitment to work towards advancing child rights and addressing the recommendations outlined in the most recent Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Children. It was also an opportunity for children to engage with Members of the Assembly, get acquainted with the legislative powers of the Assembly and its overall functioning.

At the end of the session, children presented the conclusions that emerged from their work in thematic groups.

 In the area of education they called for incressed investment in teacher trainings, infrastructure and provision of modern teaching aids.

They highlihted the importance of inclusive education and support to different learning styles, critical thinking and creativity during classes and enabling direct participation as part of the educational process which will ensure students’ individual needs are heard and understood. Children also said that teachers need to be provided with support and training that highlights creativity and engaged learning.

In the conclusions on mental health, children called for raising the public awareness on mental health issues and increased promotion and outreach with schools and parents; pedagogical professional development of teachers and recruitment of more professionals in every school, and mandatory mental health classes introduced in the curricula.

They also said that a help line for child and youth support should be made available 24/7 and registered psychologist should be provided for young people.

To advance the principle of child and youth participation, children recommended amending the Law on Youth Participation and Youth Policies to provide obligation for every educational institution to introduce highschool students and 9th grade primary school students with all possible methods of youth organization so that they get to know how to become active citizents; and full implementation of the same Law in establishing a National Youth Assembly.

Children also requested every secondary school to include students in its decision-making process through establishment of child parliament or students’ organization. They called for bigger share of the Gross Domestic Product for youth programmes; and establishment of Youth Office and youth quota within the Assembly for best representation of youth and their voice.

World Children’s Day is a global day of action for children, by children taking place every year on 20 November, the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

This year, the country is marking 30 years since it ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and 30 years of UNICEF in the country.

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