YEF Summer Academy tackles online activism and creative expression in public space

The Macedonia Youth Educational Forum (YEF) organised their annual Summer Academy in Ohrid from the 26th to the 30th of August. The eighty participating high school students from fourteen different cities in Macedonia learned more about civic and political rights and freedoms. They were presented with theoretical lectures in three different areas: public debates, online activism and creative expression in public space. They then developed project activities and event concepts that are to take place between September 2013 and August 2014 on the basis of the lectures. 

The participants could choose four out of six elective lectures. They could choose between the following options: 

  • Research in Youth Policies – Sanja Bozhovikj & Monika Bozhinovska, YEF
  • Freedom of Association and Youth Participation – Dona Kosturanova, YEF
  • Effort for More Public Debate in Macedonia – Marjan Zabrchanec & Stefan Aleksikj, YEF
  • History of Propaganda: Orwell, Goebbels & Bernays in Comparison With Modern Propaganda – Iskra Geshoska, Coalition “Jadro”
  • Political Ideologies – Marija Mirchevska, YEF
  • Art and Culture in the Fight for Human Rights – Vladimir Milchin, director & Sanja Arsovska, actress

The Public Debate was led by lecturers of the Debate Program of YEF. The participants learned about the basics of organizing public debates, the choice of topics and speakers as well as potential methods to improve the quality of the public debate. The participants in the Online Activism track focused on the basic tools of being an online activist and exercises that improved their creative take on online campaigns. The trainers of the Creative Expressions in Public Space track lectured on the possibilities of street art, how art intervention can be used as a medium for youth activism and how to organize an event.

The three tracks each produced  five different event concepts, such as a public debate on sexual education in high schools, on the new evaluation system of elemntary schools and online debates abotu youth and media. Of these, two or three will be executed by the end of December. The trainers and participants all voted on which ones would be selected. The participants and trainers of the YEF Summer Academy 2013 also participated in a panel discussion on the 27th Auguston the topic  “First-hand experiences: What are the conditions for activism in Macedonia?”. The panel included speakers who have for many years been activists for different NGOs and citizen initiatives in Macedonia.

The YEF Summer Academy managed to connect young people from different areas of MAcedonia and teach them more about their civil and political rights and freedoms and the way they can improve them. The academy offered them knowledge about different techniques on how to be more active citizens in their communities; discuss relevant issues; and take part in social and youth activism. The practical exercises and immediate chance to implement their ideas and the public debate with experienced activists inspired them to have a more direct impact on their local environment in the future.

The YEF Summer Academy was organised as part of the project idebateEU. This is a cooperation project of IDEA Amsterdam, IDEA London and ten IDEA members from all across Europe. The project aims to improve cooperation between IDEA and its members and between members, sharing debate methodologies and organisational knowledge in the framework of common activities on European topics. The project is made possible with support of the Europe for Citizens Programme of the European Commission.