Global Education Actors in Serbia – Interview with the National Youth Council of Serbia
We’re bringing you another interview in this series, this time with Milja Zdravković, the programme assistent at the National Youth Council of Serbia (KOMS). This is an umbrella organisation numbering 108 youth member organisations which represents an advocacy platform for the improvement of the position of young people. KOMS acts as a link between the youth, member organisations and the decision makers, and one could say that it’s the highest independant representative body of youth in Serbia. In case you haven’t, you can read our previous interview with the National Association of Youth Workers (NAPOR).
1. Hello Milja, thank you for taking the time to talk with us about Global Education. The National Youth Council of Serbia, as the highest independant representative body of youth and recently legally recognised as such, you activelly look after the interests of young people and advocate for changes at the national and local levels. Do you think Global Education is something that would improve the position of young people?
Hi Velimir! Thank you for inviting me to this interview. Through its programmes, the National youth council of Serbia educates young people on various topics from different aspects of life – political, social, economic and environmental. We strive to widen young people’s perspective about topics which concerns them and their situation, as well as about way young people can act and activelly participate in questions which are of importance for them, nurture critical thinking and voice their opinions loudly. We want to point out the significance of nonformal education and the impact it has on young people and their personal and professional development – so Global Education, even though it’s a relatively new term, we see as a good opportunity to improve young people’s position.
2. Global Education aims to create active global citizenship which will try to establish a more just and solidary society. That is in accordance with your activities which encourage youth activism such as the Academy of Youth Politics. Is there room for adjusting these nonformal educational activities to Global Education principles?
KOMS has, from its founding, strived to educate young people not just about topics on the national level, but also on the regional, international and global levels. Through the Academy of Youth Politics, young people learn about topics such as active participation in society, public advocacy and democratic values, as well as practices in other countries, and also about the ways in which young people can involve themselves outside of Serbia’s borders. We’re working on presenting a society to young people in which they should develop and progress forward, network among themselves and build a society that is acceptable for others. The values and principles through which KOMS acts are those of respecting human rights of all young people, democracy and active youth participation, intercultural dialogue with a respect towards differences and others, and these are values which Global Education cherishes as well so here we see similarities.
3. Recently you’ve published the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Sustainable Development Goals, a manual which aims to improve the understanding of 17 Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development among young people but also among state institutions and civil society organisations. Global Education is in accordance the with Goal 4 – do you see Global Education as something that could help realize not only this one but all other Goals as well?
SDGs are something that’s been gathering more attention recently, they’re more present in both formal and nonformal education, there are debates, public discussions and they’re more present in the media. It’s a topic that is only now developing here and the concept of Global Education can have a large impact on the awareness raising about the significance of SDGs, and young people should be developed about this topic and it should be presented to them in the simplest and most accessable way possible. You could say that our manual is one of the first of its kind to be published in the Serbian language. The Forum of Youth Politcs, which was held online, was dedicated to the SDGs and they represent one of the programme areas in which KOMS works.
4. In your latest Alternative Report on the Position and Needs of Young People in the Republic of Serbia for 2020, young people have expressed a mediocre level of satisfaction with the educational system, but it also shows that the system is not harmonized with the real needs of the job market. In what ways are you influencing the change of the formal system of education and do you think GE as an educational methodology offers adequate solutions?
Directly we don’t influence formal education, although we do indirectly. KOMS’ focus is on nonformal education, but our member organisations, through public policy proposals and public discussions do raise the question of changing the system of formal education and its deficiencies. We’re aware that formal educations lacks the nonformal parts, such as the topics which GE handles – human rights, differences, interculturality, solidarity etc., so we should work with young people from the beginning of their education on raising their awareness and accepting differences, on developing critical thinking sills and that which we call soft skills (public speaking, team work etc.).
5. Changing the system of formal education means advocacy in the public sector, however, Global Education’s ambition is to adapt nonformal education as well, which is a wholly different process because of the multitude of actors with no real central authority. What do your advocacy efforts in the civil sector look like, and which approach would be adequate for advocating the implementation of Global Education?
KOMS, through our advocay of active youth participation in decision making processes both on the local and national levels, aims to create a dialogue between the youth and the decision makers, wherein young people need to talk about and ask and answer questions about their position and needs. We want to draw attention to the youth on the local level and we think that we should empower local communities and young people in them, but not just those who are in the education system, but those who stay in those local communities but who the system doesn’t recognize. With that said, we shouldn’t exclude young people, but include them in the broader context which Global Education provides.
6. One of advocacy techniques which the North-South Centre proposes is the establishment of a national network of Global Education actors. This is something which the Ministry of Youth and Sports, in cooperation with the Center for Youth Work, is actively working on. Do you see yourselves as part of this network and what could you do to include as many actors as possible?
The National Youth Council of Serbia participated in Global Education Week way back in 2016. and we’re pleased that the opportunity for the renewed participation is offered and we think we could contribute by including the topic of Global Education within our programmes, as well as by inviting our member organisations to partake in the network. Through our programmes, we’ve reached a large number of local communities, schools, facultier, Youth Offices, and we deem that it would be significant for them to include them in the Global Education concept.
7. The most significant awareness raising event for GE is the Global Education Week which is held annually during the third week of November. It represents a collective effort of all 21 member states to organise various activities by state and nonstate actors through which the concept of Global Education is popularized. Will you answer the Ministry of Youth and Sports’ call to participate in this year’s Global Education Week and if so, in what ways?
If one such call comes, the National Youth Council of Serbia would happily respond. It is perhaps too early to talk about the ways in which we would participate, since we find ourselves in very strange and uncertain times and most activities are held online. Social media campaign, where young people are the most present, would be one of of the ideas, sharing good practice examples and experiences of others, as well as the possiblity of participating/organising discussions with actors relevant to the Global Education topic.
The Fun Park app was designed in accordance to Global Education principles. Find out more about Global Education: