From youth engagement and volunteerism to positive societal changes

On April 28, 2021, an online youth forum on the topic “From Local Strategy to Local Youth Action” took place within the USAID Youth Ethnic Integration Project, implemented by the Macedonian Civic Education Center (MCEC) in collaboration with the Youth Educational Forum (YEF). The Minister of Education and Science Mila Carovska, Deputy Minister of Education and Science Arafat Shabani and the United States Ambassador to North Macedonia H.E. Kate Marie Byrnes attended the online event.

Together with the students from primary and secondary schools, they discussed youth engagement and volunteerism. The students shared their experiences with the implementation of youth actions and how through these actions they gained many new friendships and learned new things about volunteerism and making real changes in society.

In her remarks, the Minister of Education and Science Mila Carovska pronounced the importance of encouraging youth activism and said that the Ministry will continue to support young people. “The Ministry of Education and Science in the past period have become a friend to the pupils, students, young scientists and researchers, to the young activists. Almost in every working group that we form for different purposes that affect them, no matter if it’s creating regulations, conceptions, concepts and similar, for advancing the student standard, there is one or more representatives from the category that is at the focus of the concrete action. We also have a special group called MoES – Youth through which we have a dozen mutual successes and honestly as a Minister, I am not surprised of the contribution because I expected proactivity from their side. Through that collaboration we detect needs and challenges, look into initiatives, create solutions and implement them.”

The United States Ambassador Kate Byrnes told them, “Each one of us can create opportunities and find solutions to the most challenging problems. This is among the core American values. Your proactivity to improve your school courtyards, community parks, and playgrounds; how you’ve devised actions to prevent bullying and connect with peers who need support; and how you’ve advocated to municipal officials and volunteered to make your communities safer, cleaner, and more beautiful is a testament to your bright future and the future of the country. We support youth leadership and civic engagement. You are the future and the strength in society.”

Among the participants on the event were representatives from 25 municipalities that discussed how the adoption of municipal strategies for interethnic integration and youth engagement contributes to a structural support of students and schools in the implementation of youth initiatives.

In the past months, 150 students from 30 schools in 10 municipalities participated in online workshops during which they identified the challenges and possible solutions for improving the conditions in their municipalities. Through online advocacy meetings, they collaborated with the local authorities, presented their ideas before them and received the required support. That way, the students managed to implement their ideas, pronouncing the importance of youth activism. The process continues further with even more involved students and municipalities. Through this, the USAID Youth Ethnic Integration Project creates opportunities for interaction between the students from different ethnic backgrounds and encourages their creativity and youth engagement.

This activity is part of the Youth Ethnic Integration Project, supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

This article is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of MCEC and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) or the United States Government.