Association for educational development “Ekvalis”, on 21.12.2019 (Saturday) organized the panel discussion “Does education create active or servile citizens” as the second part of the opening of the new Ekvalis office. The topics of discussion included the limited right to protest on Friday’s high school boycott about air pollution, the problematic situation with the placement of high school principals closely affiliated with political parties, questionable textbooks content, but also views on what to do next to have greater synergy between activities in the civic sector with activities in formal education such as the student as a central figure would have the ultimate benefit. Panelists at the discussion were Tamara Kupeva – professor at high school “Orce Nikolov”, Blendi Hodai – representative of the High School Student Union of the Republic of North Macedonia, and Angel Dimitrievski – youth worker at the Association for Educational Development – “Ekvalis”. Moderator of the panel discussion was Lile Stefanovska.
As part of the questions that were discussed among the panelists was “Does education make active or servile citizens?” where the majority agreed that formal education alone is not sufficient to develop critical awareness among young people, considering curricula that are with questionable credibility; and teachers who are skeptical of incorporating innovation and developing capacity to acquire knowledge and skills beyond the teaching material.
On the question of the state’s benefit from active and conscious youth, the panelists agreed their views that it is necessary to have more young people who are ready to think outside the box, be the change they want to achieve in society, and finally get rid of the constraints of passivity and political party restraints that determine our future in terms of education, working relationships, lifestyle.
We also discussed the issue of enormous amount of material which the students are receiving is preventing them from being socially active in various informal associations. All panelists were involved in this issue, and the conclusion was that the free will of the professors is also of great importance, which could make a difference in the way of teaching, the inclusion of students in research groups that would lead them to their own opinion and critical attitude towards certain issues related to the material.
High school unions, as Blendi shared, give young people the opportunity to be active outside of the school classrooms, regardless of the pressures coming from teachers or school principals. We all accept that non-formal education is crucial to the creation of active youth, in cooperation with the formal. Involvement in various youth organizations strengthens the youth and their capacities for further development, but also requires the support and encouragement of teachers who stand behind the freedoms and rights of students.
The opening of Ekvalis is supported by European Endowment for Democracy.