Empowering young innovators to foster societal change

When young people are given a fair chance to contribute to the societal development, to be innovative and to learn practical skills that will give a boost to their employability & general prospects, it not only benefits them, but the whole society as well

A young boy working on a prototype during the UPSHIFT event
29 March 2019

Ten teams of 13 – 19  year old young people participated in the third round of UPSHIFT – a programme that empowers young people to become social innovators and entrepreneurs through design thinking workshops that teach personal empowerment, workforce readiness and active citizenship skills.   

Meet the teams that were awarded 120,000 denars seed funds to turn their ideas into reality - innovations to inspire other young people to take action, be vocal and care about the community they live in.

A group of boys working with their teacher on the presentation of their idea during UPSHIFT event

Inspired by the lack of opportunities for practical learning on subjects like computer modeling and construction, automatic machine management, and programming machines, Toshe and the two boys both named Stefan from the Kole Nehtenin High School in Shtip, are combining innovation, practice and learning opportunities. Their plan is to build a new CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine for engraving and to use it in their school so that students get the hands on experience creating and using the machine. Their idea is to help young people better prepared for the labour market, but it also designed to generate income. By offering engraving services, they are also creating the foundations of a self-sustainable school company, and to re-invest profits to increase the quality of education provided in the school. Part of the income generated will also be used to assist disadvantaged children from the school.

A group of young people and their teacher preparing their presentation for a beekeeping project during UPSHIFT event

Much like the boys from Shtip, four boys from Brakja Miladinovci High School in Skopje also want to enrich their education and increase their employability. However, Angel, Stefan, Ejup, and Bejtula are creating a social entrepreneurial opportunity in beekeeping. They currently have very basic lessons on bees and their role in the ecosystem within the school curricula, without any opportunity for practical learning or observation. That’s why they decided to apply to UPSHIFT with the idea of setting up beekeeping facility, so that they and future generations have a chance to learn through observation and practice and build entrepreneur skills.

Jovan, Nina, Iva and Aleksey prepare their permaculture project idea presentation during the UPSHIFT event

Jovan, Nina, Iva and Aleksey from Krste Misirkov Primary School in Kumanovo want to introduce innovative permaculture gardening in their school so that all students can learn about the benefits of a full cycle of smart organic gardening. Their idea aims to increase awareness about healthy food and encourage children to think about how they use resources and their impact on the environment. The permaculture garden is also intended to enrich the communication between students, teachers and parents, as well as with the whole local community. Through UPSHIFT, they will now have a chance to lay the foundation of the new garden, which will grow as production of fruits and vegetables kicks off.

A group of boys and girl with their teacher standing on a beach near the Ohrid lake

Creating a system for real time evaluation and grading of student’s knowledge is the innovative idea of Ilija, Elena, Viktorija and Kire from Kiro Spandzov – Brko High School in Kavadarci. They want to contribute to improving quality education in their school by introducing a new tool that will enhance efficiency and accuracy of testing student’s knowledge, while limiting the possibilities for subjectivity in grading.  These four young students have already developed a prototype which was tested in their classroom. The model uses wireless remote control devices that all children will use to simultaneously answer questions presented on a screen and supervised by their teacher.

Two girls giving high five during UPSHIFT event

Noticing the problems that some children with disabilities have learning mathematics, Martina, Simona, Anastasija and Arijan from the Jovche Teslichkov High School in Veles, were inspired to use their love for the subject to find a solution.  They developed a game to make learning easier and fun. By researching how to bring mathematics closer to children with difficulties, they consulted teachers and experts in the field and devised a game like experience successfully paired with learning by using several sensory information at once, such as sight, sound, touch etc. The three-day workshop and help of their mentor, gave them the chance to explore options to further develop their prototype. “We are not math geniuses at all, we just love logic and wanted to teach other kids as well how easy it can be if shown the right way,” says Anastasija.

A group photo of the participants on the UPSHIFT event standing on a beach near Ohrid lake

UPSHIFT combines social innovation workshops, where young people can learn new skills, with mentorship and funding, so that they can better detect problems in their communities, find innovative solutions for them and get a support to see their idea becoming a reality. The UPSHIFT initiative is a partnership between the Ministry of Education and Science, Bureau for Development of Education, Fund for Innovation and Technological Development and UNICEF and implemented by CEED-Hub.