Time to involve children and youth in decision making
Children have the right of speech. This fundamental right urged Jetmira from Dibra to share with us some personal reflections on the children and youth reality at her school.
“What worries me and many peers of mine is the lack of laboratories at school and the lack of other facilities for youth. Besides this, absence of course centers and talent-development spaces causes that many teenagers spend their time in a non-qualitative way,”- writes the 15-years old girl, who has been part of the IMPACT youth club for three years.
Through this model, teenagers and youth are engaged in activities and initiatives that aim their empowerment and among other things, to raise their voice for the main issues they face at school and in their communities.
Jointly with 216 teenagers and youth of the 12 IMPACT clubs in Dibra, Jetmira engages in some initiatives focusing on children rights, cyber-security, leadership, communication, and mental health.
World Vision works to empower the youth and create inclusive school premises. During the 2021 alone, 13,888 children from 23 schools in 11 municipalities of Albania benefited from World Vision mini-grants to improve school infrastructure and create inclusive environments.
Read the full letter of the 15-year-old:
Freedom of speech is the foundation of democracy and the key to many other rights. Article 13 of the Convention on the Children’s Rights states: “Children have the right of freedom of speech; this right includes the freedom to ask, receive, and convey information and ideas of any type, notwithstanding borders, in written, typed, spoken, or artistic form or any other means chosen by the children”.
This right is closely associated to article 12 of the convention, where the government should guarantee to the children the right to express their points of view regarding any matter related to them.
I have a question for all you, grown-ups, reading this article. When you were children, how many times were you allowed to express your thoughts? What about you, my peers, what is the space created for you at your school, community, or your city’s institutions, to express and share your concerns?!
While you consider the possible answers, I will share the examples from my community.
What worries me and many of my peers is the lack of laboratories at school and the lack of other facilities for youth. This worries me because we cannot practice theory at the laboratories. The same situation is in almost every school. As students, we wrote to the institutions, but in most cases, we have received no answer.
We have also complained for the absence of a fitness space. When the weather is not good, we cannot get out and are forced to stay indoors.
I don't raise issues related to poverty and unemployment in the city because I think I have limited knowledge about these aspects. I focus solely on the school and on having few opportunities for developmental and recreative activities for youth in my city. We need more spaces that provide opportunities for us to explore our skills, learn new things, engage in conversations and share our thoughts on various issues that concern us.
Fortunately, freedom of speech and child participation has received great attention, especially by organisations. Student governments are one of the models that assure freedom of speech. IMPACT youth club model is a way to engage youth in raising their voice and taking measures for issues related to the communities. There are still many challenges that worry us; there is still much work is to be done in this regard.
Opinion of children and youth should be taken into consideration. We are the ones that say our thoughts openly and know issues that concern us much better than the grown-ups that take decisions for us.
That’s why I am concluding with an appeal to the grown-ups and decision-makers: “Give me the freedom to know, to share and make arguments freely according to my conscience. Give us this freedom and right.”
An open letter from Jetmira from Dibra, an IMPACT group participant.