Thursday, October 28, 2021

Youngster’s voice heard through a public debate in Kumanovo

USAID’s Interethnic integration in education project implemented by the Macedonian civil education centre organized the public debate on “Ethnically divided objects do (not) obstruct integration”. The public event is part of the cycle of debates called “Debates for integration in schools”. As part of the project activities, the debate clubs are going to organize 8 public debates in the following communities: Stip, Kicevo, Kratovo, Kumanovo, Struga, Chair, Centar and Veles.

The public debate took place in the Municipal building- Kumanovo Committee in which teachers, students and citizens participated.

In Kumanovo, the participants in the debate were divided in affirmative and dissenting teams and were put in a position to discuss on the role of schools as places for cohabitation and the extent to which schools teach us how to foster integration in our community. By analyzing the arguments we are enabled to see the situation in which we are finding ourselves at the moment which will provide us with short-term and long-term possibility to create room for discussions for plausible decisions. These debates on integration in schools are crucial in raising the awareness for the need of discussion on this topic, and also they are directly influencing on improving the communication among youngsters coming from different ethnic communities.

“We see that students are burdened with stereotypes, prejudices which are possibly supported by adults, parents and teachers. Therefore ethnic self-awareness is the reason for the overall division in schools and in other areas, as well. There is lack of self-criticism in any of us, lack of awareness of students and teachers, lack of trainings on identifying these stereotypes and prejudices etc. I think that the lack of physical space for learning in the same school is rather marginal problem compared to the existence of the ethnic awareness, i.e. self-awareness regarding the other ethnic community. That is exactly why I think that these debates are good basis for initiating at least part of these processes” – said Svetlana Ilievska Aleksovska, civil education teacher.

“As long as there are no equal benefits provided by the system, regardless of the reasons, the citizens are those who bear the consequences. My view is that these kinds of problems and conflicts do not emerge in conditions of economic security. I personally think that the economic development is the solution of this situation in which we find ourselves. Economy offers employment possibilities, cooperation, synergy, and at the end of the line, it offers long lasting bonding of different ethnicities. – stated Fatri Saliu, teacher.

The members of the Debate club have been taking part in debate tournaments for several months, and have regular lectures on debate on weekly basis, within which they acquire oratorical skills, enhance their analytical capabilities and socialize with their peers, youngsters coming from different ethnic communities and cultures.

This activity was performed in cooperation with the Youth educational forum that has objectives such as culture of dialogue improvement, strengthening the level of argumentative public speaking, supporting municipal discussion on relevant topics and integration in society.