Young innovators work on solutions for air pollution in and around schools

24 December 2018
A photo from the second UPSHIFT workshop including several young teams working on air pollution problems
UNICEF/2018/Georgiev

Skopje, 24 December 2018: –  At a design thinking hackathon supported by the Ministry of Education and Science, Bureau for Development of Education, Fund for Innovation and Technological Development and UNICEF, and organized by CEED-Hub, five teams of 13-19 year old young people were granted each 120,000 denars to realize their innovative solution to reduce air pollution in and around their schools.

This is the second cycle of UPSHIFT programme -  first of its kind in the country - which combines social innovation workshops, with mentorship, materials and seed funding, equipping young people with entrepreneurship skills.

“This programme is a springboard for young people for their active engagement and an opportunity to show that every problem can be solved. This way, young people can also inspire and stimulate institutions to engage more in reducing pollution and of course for a better future for everyone, "said Arber Ademi, Minister of Education and Science.

“There are three reasons why UPSHIFT is important for young people – they collaborate to find innovative solutions to tackling air pollution which is an issue in the country; by doing so they learn new skill sets around problem solving, communication, innovative thinking, entrepreneurship, and realize the power they have to change some of the pressing challenges in the society," said Mr. Benjamin Perks, UNICEF Representative.

At a three-day “design thinking” hackathon, 10 teams from Skopje, Tetovo, Struga, Vinica, Valandovo, Kocani and Veles worked with passion to elaborate their design solutions to reduce air pollution in and around their schools - from growing a green wall near the fence of the school, reducing the dust and clean the air by upgrading old computers, improving air quality with candles made from bees’ wax; increased use of solar energy, and  change practices and encourage meaningful engagement of adolescents in their communities.

UNICEF and the Fund for Innovation and Technological Development will support the implementation of one more UPSHIFT cycle in 2019.

The long-term goal is to support the Ministry of Education and Science and the Bureau for Development of Education to introduce UPSHIFT methodology in regular education system and enable teachers to use in the classroom proven, practical techniques to help every student develop transferable, 21st century skills.

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