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Presentation of the Children’s Alternative report for the situation with the children’s rights in the Republic of Macedonia prepared by the children involved in the project “Building a Culture of Child Participation” 

Dear all,
The First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi, on Thursday, 21st of January 2010, at 10:30 am, in the facilities of the First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi, held a press conference to present the Children’s Alternative report for the situation with the children’s rights in the Republic of Macedonia, prepared by the children.[1] 

The children are expressing their opinions and attitudes regarding several questions: how much do they know their rights and the Convention, how much is their opinion respected, the talk about the violence against and between them, the discrimination, how much do they know about the institutions that are protecting their rights, what is their quality of life, and at the end they give recommendations on how to improve the situation with their rights in the Republic of Macedonia.
Some of the conclusions are the following:
1/3 of children claim that the professors (teachers) do not respect their rights.
Rights that are the most ignored in the family are the right to privacy (3/5) and the right to have own opinion (1/3). 
1/5 of children are exposed to family violence, at 2/3 of them this is happening every day
Half of the children claim that there is violence in their school.
2/3 of children said that there is violence on the streets, from which 1/5 claim that it is happening every day.
Between 1/5 and 1/3 of children said that they personally committed some kind of physical or mental violence in the family, at school or on the streets.
Between 1/6 and 1/3 of children are afraid to answer the questions of whether they were exposed to some kind of violence.
Only 21.5% of children turned somewhere for help when some of their rights were violated, and they trust their parents the most, to whom 50% turned for help
Only 6% of children know at least one SOS phone number where they could turn to for help, and 1/3 from them already reported some kind of problem
The right of equality (without discrimination) is one of the lesser known rights (2%).
The girls feel more discriminated than the boys about their age and gender, while it is the opposite for language, ethnic origin, religion and race.
Viewed by age, most discrimination is among students from fifth grade (on grounds of age and religion) and first-year high school (on the basis of ethnicity and language) and the least at third year high school. Similarly, as the basis of social status and the ethnic origin (nationality), discrimination in primary schools ranges from 13% to 23% and in secondary schools from 20% to 33%.
The children are discriminated the most by their peers (77%), and fewer (29%) by their professors.
Children with disabilities are discriminated in some schools because there are no conditions for their inclusion in the regular education, which is violating their right to education.
3/4 of children do not know their rights
Children have acquired information about their rights through school, TV, home and the non-governmental organizations
Speakers on the press conference were:

10:30 - 10:35 Katerina Koneska – Attorney at law from First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi

10:35 – 10:45 Elena Dimitrievska – A representative of the Children’s alternative report in front of the Committee for the rights of the child in Geneva

10:55 – 10:55 Vaska Bojadgi - A representative of the Children’s alternative report in front of the Committee for the rights of the child in Geneva

Moderator: Katerina Koneska – Attorney at law from First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi
In the period from the 23rd of December 2008 to 1st of December 2009, the Children’s Alternative report was being prepared by the children involved in the project “Building a culture of child participation”. This is the first time in Macedonia that children prepare their report and advocate for it before the Committee on Children’s Rights at the United Nations (UN). Very few countries in the world have ever been presented to the Committee with an alternative report on the situation with children’s rights prepared by children.
All data that are consisted in the report are gained through a research that was conducted in the beginning of July 2009. The research was made by a questionnaire which had 63 questions, with an objective to cover more spheres that are of children interest. The questionnaire, as well as the survey, was conducted by a group of 62 children from 7 different cities (Skopje, Strumica, Kumanovo, Tetovo, Kichevo, Kavadarci, Prilep). 2234 students from elementary and high schools in Macedonia were involved in the survey.  
The report has an analysis of several aspects from the research, divided in 5 thematic wholes:
The knowledge of the children about the Convention and their rights
Children’s participation in the decision making process about questions of their interest
Violence against children
Quality of life
In a separate part of the report named “Special notice” several more topics are covered with the survey, for which the children thought are of great meaning.
Children excluded from school
Quality of the education
Children with special needs
Not respecting children’s rights
The children made the following recommendations to improve the situation with their rights in the Republic of Macedonia:
The state must take appropriate measures through its relevant institutions in order to guarantee the safety of the children in their every day life.
Actively promoting the peacefull education and inclusion in the regular education process in order to reduce the high rate of discrimination and violence among peers.
The state to find ways to support children/youth clubs (associations/societes) in schools and the civil organizations, where the children’s participation will be promoted and encouraged.  
Providing modern and professional conditions for quality learning of the curricula in the educational process.
Through public campaigns and media, children should be encouraged to report violence or any other form of rights violation
The state to find forms of mass informing about the children’s rights to all categories of citizens (children, parents, school staff, and proffesionals from all relevant institutions).
The state to introduce legislation for the safe use of the Internet by minors (campaigns for safe use in school and through the media).
Every school to have a general practice doctor and a dentist.
The state should find mechanisms to eradicate the mendacity of children on the streets as a way to supply livelihood
Introduction of stricter measures for protection from inappropriate contents for the age and the psychophysical development of children in the media and other information services.
Stricter enforcement of the law for prohibited sale of alcohol and cigarettes to minors especially in smaller towns and ban of the sale of any pornographic materials in public places accessible to children.
Appropriate functioning of the professional services in the schools (teachers and psychologists) and expansion of the teams with social workers and special educators.
The state should find adequate forms that will introduce the children to the existence, operation and role of the centres for social work, SOS telephone numbers and the Ombudsman where they could turn to for any kind of help.
The state should find mechanisms for locating and registering the newborn Roma children and to accelerate the process of acquiring their identity for those who have not done in time, in order to enable them to be involved in the educational process.
This report is sent to the Committee for the rights of the child of UN and will be presented two children representatives on a pre-session in front of the Committee, on the beginning of February 2010, in Geneva.
The preparation of the Children’s Alternative report is part of the project Building a culture of child participation, financed by the European Commission and UNICEF.


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