Youth Dialogues in Serbia: The Energy of Young People to Change Their Communities

02 July 2019
Participants of the youth dialogue in Belgrade
UNICEF Serbia/2019/Pancic

Uzice/Novi Sad/Belgrade, Serbia, 02 July 2019 - Hundreds of young people from all over Serbia participated in three Youth Dialogues within the framework of the regional Dialogue for the Future programme which were held in Uzice, Novi Sad and Belgrade.

Young people came together to work on strengthening trust and peace across the region through dialogue, policy recommendations and actions based on common priorities. The Youth Dialogues were organized by UNICEF, together with its partner organizations OPENS and the Friends of Children of Serbia.

“None of us can change society as an individual, but if we work together we can change the future for ourselves and those that will come after us,” said Nevena Stojanovic (17) from Zrenjanin.

“Civic education is a window through which we can see the world and thus learn about our rights,” believe Vuk Obradovic (17) from Mladenovac and Aleksa Jankovic (18) from Bor.

“None of us can change society as an individual, but if we work together we can change the future for ourselves and those that will come after us.”

This kind of structured dialogue is a tool that provides a unique opportunity for young people to get involved in discussions and make decisions that will affect their futures.

UNICEF, together with the Ministries of Youth and Sports and Education, Science and Technological Development, as well as with the Minister without Portfolio in charge of Demography and Population Policy, works to support youth participation and the involvement of young people in community decision-making, as well as the development of life skills for young people both in formal and non-formal education. 

“Local self-governments, just like young people, will be a key partner in taking further steps to raise the visibility of the 2030 Agenda and its Goals. Our aim is to reach all stakeholders, every member of civil society, the private sector and the public, to fully inform and involve everyone about this very important mission,” said Prof Dr Slavica Djukic Dejanovic, Minister without Portfolio in charge of Demography and Population Policy and President of the Inter-Ministerial Working Group on the Implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

Civic education ensures that young people learn in schools about the responsibilities of active citizens and to understand that we all share responsibility for solving different local and global issues.

“We will work to create conditions necessary for young people to acquire the knowledge and skills that lead to improved social cohesion, which will help them to lead by example and to work to eliminate prejudices and stereotypes, to build a lasting trust and respect for diversity; in short - to be tolerant,” stated Vanja Udovicic, Minister of Youth and Sport.

Civic education empowers students to discuss local problems, but also regional and global issues, to be well informed and to have carefully considered opinions on current affairs and problems.

“Information is readily available, but young people need to know how to analyse it and apply it in their lives. Teachers should teach young people to think critically and to apply their ideas to real life situations,” believes Vesna Nedeljkovic, Assistant Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development.

Young people are motivated to engage and contribute to ongoing reform processes and Youth Dialogues are a way to empower adolescents to get involved.    

“For me, as a young person, it’s very valuable to participate in the Youth Dialogues, because I can hear and learn things that I don’t have access to,” believes Petra Marovic (18) from Belgrade.

The Dialogue for the Future programme aims to strengthen collaboration in the region through dialogue, policy recommendations and action for selected SDGs.

The action on the agreed common priorities will be supported with grants to foster peace-building, intercultural dialogue and cooperation in the region.

By putting the spotlight on the quality of education, civic education, gender equality, peace and justice as well as on sustainable cities, we are jointly working towards a more equal and tolerant society. These goals can be reached only with the full involvement of adolescents as agents, actors and co-creators of change.

The Dialogue for the Future programme is implemented by UNICEF, UNDP and UNESCO in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia with the support of the presidencies of these countries.

The goal of the programme is to strengthen collaboration in the region by promoting social cohesion and intercultural understanding.

Within the framework of the Dialogue for the Future, youth dialogues are the key occasion to gather youth and stakeholders and to empower their constructive engagement across the region.

These participatory dialogue events are bringing together adolescents and youth, civil society organizations, opinion and decision makers to discuss, identify and agree on social cohesion priorities at the country and regional levels.

Media Contacts

Jadranka Milanovic

Communication Officer

UNICEF Serbia

Tel: + 381 11 3602 104

Tel: +381 63 336 283

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