Project “YOUth Ambassadors of Non-Formal Learning”
Organization: Center for Intercultural Dialogue
Country: North Macedonia
Interviewer: Andrijana Tashevska
Interviewee: Aleksandra Tasic, member of the Local Council of Kumanovo, executive director of non-governmental organization Bujrum – Center for Rural Development
Date and location: 17.06.2020
Duration: 40 minutes
Note: Interview was conducted online (ZOOM Platform)
– Aleksandra Tasic – member of the Local Council of Kumanovo, executive director of non-governmental organization Bujrum – Center for Rural Development.
I am a young person who has been very active in the non-governmental sector through work on different projects, I have been a trainer for non-formal education and later I became a councillor in the Local Council of Kumanovo, and I got involved in the decision-making processes.
List of questions for the Interview:
- Is the law defining NFE in your country? If yes, please describe what the law says.
– Non-formal education in North Macedonia is mentioned in the Law on Adult Education. There is no special law only for non-formal education. The Law on Adult Education is not competent enough to contain the part on non-formal education because many young people, while having the primary and secondary education process, use non-formal education in parallel. This law excludes the primary and secondary part of education and covers lifelong adult education. This is something that definitely needs to be worked on in the future. To make legal changes, the law on non-formal education needs to be defined separately, because if our goal is to enter the European Union we need to understand that in the EU these things work differently and young people are heard. It is one of the ways to get the opinion of young people, to participate in decision-making processes, which in our country is completely excluded. I think that in the future we should focus on working on changing that legislation.
- Please describe the existing strategies, action plans that define non-formal learning in your country?
– Strategies for young people exist. However, depending on the municipality, are not implemented as they should be, or in some places are not even developed. An attempt has been made, youth strategies have been created, both locally and nationally. The National Youth Strategy was created by the Agency for Youth and Sports – a special institution that focuses on youth. However, the implementation of those strategies has not started. The written document exists, but in practice it is not applied, at the moment when those things need to be implemented there is a rather big delay. In general, most young people do not trust the institutions and are not close to them, as a place where they can turn and make some contribution because mostly young people think that they will not be heard and that their opinion will not be taken in consideration. The only way is through non-governmental organizations that provide non-formal education in North Macedonia and mostly they deliver that non-formal education, it is the only way that young people use to contribute, use the influence of non-governmental organizations to get their opinions to a higher level, to important institutions. To summarize, the documents exist, but there is a delay in their implementation.
- Have you been involved in the development of a strategy / action plan / law in excess of the NFE issues?
– I was part of the team for the development of the Youth Strategy of the Municipality of Kumanovo (2014 – 2019), the development of action plans, the writing of strategies. However, I was involved through an initiative of a non-governmental organization as a youth activist, because then I was not part of the Local Council of Kumanovo. The Municipality of Kumanovo has not initiated any cooperation with non-governmental organizations, that was our role. The strategy was created in cooperation with UNDP and the Municipality of Kumanovo in several cycles, but as in many other places in our country, it was written on paper but the implementation stopped.
- Do you work on promoting NFE and how?
– All the skills I have gained from non-formal education have helped me a lot in these decision-making processes that I am part of. The competences I gained from non-formal education are very important: from the way I communicate, the way I present myself and the way I look at things, because I have learned how to look at a problem from all angles. I do not focus on an aspect that suits only the institution, but I put myself in the position of the person for whom that decision is made. It is very important because I can contribute with different views and different opinions from my previous experience. I do not act politically on some orders, but I use all the knowledge I have from non-formal education and share it in the Local Council. The promotion is very important. Fortunately in the Council of which I am a part of there are many people such as the President of the Council and many others who have extensive experience in the non-governmental sector with non-formal education. We take advantage of every opportunity that come out of non-formal education and try to send as many councillors who have not had the opportunity to be part of non-formal education activities to seminars, trainings and different events. In the Council we worked on a project that we wrote, applied for and received the grant for renovation of the councilors’ hall. My opinion is that a large number of councilors who have no experience in non-formal education like that way of working, the way of learning so I manage to promote it. My very appearance in the Council shows the importance of non-formal education. All the views and opinions I have on certain issues that I have talked about in the Council are reasoned and real, they are not just empty words and attacks but real needs for improvement.
- For your institution/CSO how young people recognize NFE?
– Young people generally do not have much knowledge about non-formal education because they do not have easy access to information, only if they engage and research on their own can they get information about the opportunities they have. The formal educational process does not mention non-formal education or informal education and young people are only familiar with that formal process. The first thing that attracts young people to non-formal education is the way they socialize with each other, the way they work on a topic that is interesting to them. They are not aware that it is an educational process. Honestly, when I started getting involved in NGO activities I did not know what non-formal education was until I attended some trainings, events and learned all about it. What attracted me the most was that it was something completely different and more interesting than what I knew, and I could express my opinion without being pointed out or condemned. That is how I see and I think that other young people also see the process, although many young people are not at all familiar with the concept of non-formal education and what are the benefits they can get from non-formal education. However, once they decide to get involved in such a process, many as a joke or out of curiosity, find themselves in it and want to learn and prove themselves much more.
- What are you doing about NFE in term to make closeness with youth?
– I use every opportunity to bring non-formal education closer to young people – if I have a meeting with them, or any kind of communication I always share my experience. As a councillor, as an official, I am seen as a successful person with great achievements. In general I explain my path that I have gone through. In that way I motivate young people, I tell them that everything I am now is based on non-formal education. I direct everyone to non-formal education because non-formal education is a type of education that sometimes is more helpful than formal education. It can help you to find yourself as a young person, it has happened to me, I have realized through non-formal education what I want to do professionally. I motivate and guide all young people I come in contact with to try to participate in some non-formal education activities and as an example I cite non-governmental organizations, associations that work with non-formal education etc.
- Have you involved young people in the process of bringing about things that are relevant to non-formal education?
– We as councillors do not prepare the program documents, but we as councillors vote for the programs. The departments of the Municipality of Kumanovo are responsible for compiling the documents. My knowledge is that young people are not involved, probably because there is no tool, way or methodology that would involve young people. However, in case an initiative comes from associations, young people or specific projects, it is practiced. The institutions are open for cooperation, but at someone else’s initiative. The institutions themselves do not take the initiative, not that there is no opportunity but it is obviously not a priority. A program reaches us councillors and the program proposer is present at the voting. I can ask the proposer if the young people were involved and I can vote for or against the programme. But I am not the one involved in making that plan or strategy.
- Should the Government get involved and make an even bigger contribution when it we are speaking about youth and policies about youth?
– A clear and constructive law must be written according to the work of other European countries that practice that law which will define non-formal education, cooperation of non-governmental organizations with institutions and a law that will define the participation of young people, such as is the law on women in politics. For example on the list of councillors a condition is that 30% of the proposed councillors must be women. So for example a condition for drafting any document such as a youth strategy can be that a minimum of 30% should be young people who will represent the views and opinions of their peers. This can be easily solved with a new law, and the Government is the body that makes the laws.