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Partnership for Youth Social Innovation

Skopje, 20 June 2018: Ministry of Education and Science, Fund for Innovation and Technological Development and UNICEF, today launched a youth social innovation partnership. Through UPSHIFT – a programme that combines leading approaches in youth and adolescent development with private sector best practice and human-centred design – the partnership aims to empower young people through developing entrepreneurial solutions to challenges in their community.

"Social entrepreneurship plays an important role supporting the employment of young people, especially those from vulnerable groups," said Mr. Arber Ademi, Minister of Education and Science. "It’s crucial for teachers and students to get involved in this social entrepreneurship program. That's why, I’m calling out to all to take advantage of this new opportunity being offered."

“The education system plays a significant role in preparing young people for the labour market and therefore innovative programs that use modern approaches in working with adolescents are needed to foster their creativity and entrepreneurial potential,”.

The UPSHIFT programme combines social innovation workshops, with mentorship, materials and seed funding, equipping young people with the skills. It starts with a local call for self–starting groups of 13-19 year olds to design an innovative solution to a social problem they have identified in their community.  A panel of private and public-sector representatives, selects the best ideas and the teams are guided by a mentor and participate in a design thinking workshop to develop their ideas. The programme benefits young people, but also the wider community from solutions created.

“Neuroscience & psychology shows that adolescence is an important period of brain development, characterised by a period of emotional spark, social engagement, novelty seeking and creative exploration,” said Benjamin Perks, UNICEF Representative. “When given the opportunity to work in a team, persistently through a challenge, they channel that energy and develop social and emotional character, like optimism, growth mindset, integrity, and public service ethos.” 

UNICEF and Fund for Innovation and Technological Development agreed to support the implementation of 3 UPSHIFT cycles over the next twelve months.  As part of the partnership, the Fund for Innovation and Technology will provide seed funding to the best teams to implement their ideas.

"Young people are our focus. Recently we successfully completed the ‘Challenge for Young Researchers’ and we continue to promote other initiatives for them. The UPSHIFT program is one of them, where the Fund for Innovation and Technological Development encourages young people to be leaders who drive change and support new generations to bring in global perspectives to the country," said Jovan Despotovski, Director of the Fund for Innovation and Technological Development. 

The sustainability of the programme is one of the most important aspects of the partnership.  The implementation model foresees close collaboration with the Ministry of Education Science and the Bureau for Education Development to create a mechanism for adolescent participation in education reform.  Some of the problems that adolescents will be addressing will focus specifically on the education sector, the lessons learned on innovative teaching approaches will be included in in-service teacher’s development programmes and the programme itself can be scaled up through embedding it in subjects on entrepreneurship and innovation curricula.



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