President Stevo Pendarovski addressed today the celebration of World Children’s Day, organized by UNICEF. At the event titled “Youth Call to Action to Reimagine a Better Future”, decision makers and policy makers had the opportunity to hear young people and their calls for action on issues that are important to their generation – from climate to mental health, education, equal opportunities and a better quality of life.
Today’s event builds on the “Reimagine the Future” initiative implemented by UNICEF and President Pendarovski, in which young people across the country shared their views and ideas for solutions to the biggest challenges affecting their lives and their future.
Esteemed children and youngsters,
Distinguished representatives of UNICEF,
Distinguished representatives of state institutions,
Dear guests who are physically present at today’s event and online followers,
It is a special honor and pleasure for me to address you as the patron of today’s celebration of World Children’s Day – November 20, which is being organized by UNICEF.
I really have a difficult task to keep your attention after the inspiring speeches of Erza, Iva and Stanisa, who essentially introduced us to three topics that affect young people, but also all other age categories, namely quality education, environment and quality of life in general.
Before I share some of my views on the above issues, let me first congratulate on the 75th anniversary of UNICEF. Their long-term work on all the meridians of the world and the programs and projects for improving the rights, position and quality of life of children, undoubtedly deserve our respect.
Appreciating the mission of UNICEF, but also the vision and desire for action in the period we are burdened with the COVID-19 pandemic, I am especially glad to have the opportunity to become the patron of the initiative “Re-imagine the future”, which consists of youth discussions and consultations. Today’s celebration of Children’s Day is indeed directly related to those activities. Namely, exactly the three topics that we discussed today were chosen by the young people at the beginning of the initiative in February this year. Later in the summer, workshops on the mentioned topics followed, where we witnessed a solid interest and a high level of proactivity and creativity of the young people who were involved in the project.
Quality education is impossible without investing in it, without modern curricula and acquiring practical skills. It is necessary for education to produce staff in accordance with the needs of the labor market. As a person who has spent part of his professional career in education, I absolutely agree that without putting education and science in a priority position we cannot expect faster economic development and overall social progress.
Education, health, functioning rule of law, environmental protection are the key to a quality life.
We need to deal with basic things like tackling illegal landfills, littering, complying with pollution regulations. In this context, I completely agree with the opinions of young people expressed in the workshops that we need systemic and creative solutions to protect the environment. And in this segment, I will emphasize, our behavior as individuals is crucial.
As we speak today, on World Children’s Day, thousands of children around the world are dying of hunger, thousands are homeless and without access to education, thousands are fleeing for refuge and better life in the border zones, on no man’s land, in makeshift camps. While we are saying this at the junctions of our capital, but also in other cities, there are children-beggars, dozens of children outside the school system, and children who are not registered in the birth registers at all. We have to face all these problems and find concrete solutions. I appeal to the competent institutions not to allow any child to be on the street, outside the education system, marginalized and abused.
The pandemic, unfortunately, showed how vulnerable children are and how the new, ugly reality endangers their freedoms, dreams, carefree childhood. May all this be a challenge for all of us, an opportunity for a kind of reset, setting priorities and essential involvement of young people in decision-making processes!
At the end, let me once again call on all key institutions to work on issues for children and young people and work together for a happier future. The voice of young people must be heard and embedded in decision-making. Re-imagining the future must start from the present, because without re-imagining the present we cannot re-imagine the future either.
I wish you further successful work and productive discussions.