Working towards equity for children


Published on

Since independence in 1991, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has made steady progress in ensuring political
stability and economic growth in a multiethnic state. Two decades on, the country is
now fi rmly placed as a middle income country, and a candidate for membership in the European Union.

These gains have indeed had a positive impact on the lives of most children in the country.
However, not all children have benefited equally.

Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Working towards equity for children

  1. Working Towards Equity for Children 1
  2. 2 Working Towards Equity for Children
  3. ContentsProgress for Children in Numbers .................................................................................................................4Introduction ......................................................................................................................................................61. MOTHER AND CHILD HEALTH ..............................................................................................................81.1 Veles at the Forefront of UNICEF’s Immunization Program ............................................................. 101.2 Safe Motherhood: Baby Friendly Hospitals.......................................................................................122. EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT AND QUALITY EDUCATION .................................................142.1 Early Childhood Development: Preparing Children for School .......................................................162.2 Child-Friendly Schools: Multiculturalism and Respect for Children’s Rights .................................182.3 Child-Friendly Schools: Thinking Mathematics .................................................................................203. CHILD PROTECTION ............................................................................................................................223.1 A Family for the Most Forgotten Children ........................................................................................243.2 More Care, Less Paperwork: A Day in the Life of a Social Worker ..................................................263.3 Building a justice system for children................................................................................................284. CHILD FOCUSED GOVERNANCE .......................................................................................................304.1 Invisible to the State: The Birth Registration Problem ......................................................................324.2 Building a Child-Friendly Municipality ..............................................................................................345. MONITORING CHILD RIGHTS............................................................................................................365.1 Strengthening the Role of NGOs in Monitoring Child Rights ..........................................................386. PARTNERSHIPS FOR CHILDREN ........................................................................................................406.1 Child Friendly Journalism ...................................................................................................................42 3
  4. Progress for Children in Numbers The following provides a snapshot of indicators highlighting encouraging progress at the aggregate level for children in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia over the last couple of decades – a period that witnessed both economic and political transition and a brief internal conflict. Country Basics Earliest Available Latest Available 1990* 2008* GNI per capita in US$ (Earliest 1994) 820 4140 Total population in thousands 1895 2041 Population in thousands, under 18 595 469 Population in thousands, under 5 (Earliest 1991) 154 112 Public expenditure in health as a % of GDP (Earliest 1995; Latest 2006) 5.5% 5.9% Public expenditure in education as a % of GDP 5.9% 5.7% Public expenditure in social protection as a % of GDP - 5% Health and Nutrition Under-five mortality rate (per 1,000 live births) 36 11 Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births) 32 10 Perinatal mortality (early neonatal and still births) per 1,000 births - 14.6 Immunization percentage, 1-year-old children immunized against: BCG 93 94 Immunization percentage, 1-year-old children immunized against: DPT 1 94 98 Immunization percentage, 1-year-old children immunized against: DPT 3 94 95 Immunization percentage, 1-year-old children immunized against: Polio 3 94 96 Immunization percentage, 1-year-old children immunized against: Measles - 98 Immunization percentage, 1-year-old children immunized against: HepB - 97 % of children who are: exclusively breastfed <6 months (Earliest 1999, Latest 2005) 36.6 16.2 % of households consuming iodized salt - 94 Estimated HIV prevalence rate (aged 15–49), (Latest 2007) - <0.1 Education Primary school enrolment ratio (gross) 100 98 Primary school enrolment ratio (net) 88 92 Primary school enrolment ratio (net male) 88 92 Primary school enrolment ratio (net female) 87 92 Secondary school enrolment ratio (net male) 53 82 Secondary school enrolment ratio (net female) 55 80 Child Protection % of children registered at birth - 94 Number of children in public institutional care (age 0-17), (Earliest 2000) 467 315 Number of children in non-public institutional care, (total), (Earliest 2005) 72 84 Number of children with disabilities in public institutional care, (Earliest 2000) 649 477 % of women 15-49 who believe a husband is justified in beating his wife/partner - 21 % of children 2-14 years old who experience any form of psychological or physical punishment - 69 # of juveniles placed in closed correctional/punitive institutions and prisons (Latest 2005) 151 95 Sources: State Statistical Office, Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey,State of the World’s Children, Transmonee * Unless otherwise specified4 Working Towards Equity for Children
  5. Progress for Some More than OthersWhile the country’s GDP growth has continued over the last decade, placing it in the category of an upper middle income country,social sector reforms are lagging behind, disparities have increased and progress for children has been uneven.Continuing high rates of child poverty and social exclusion; enduring disparities in access to services and in health and education;and poor linkages between accountabilities, policies and budgetary allocations, are the three main challenges to achieving equity.The following statistics provide a snapshot of the progress made and the continuing inequalities. Economic indicators 1990* 2008* Unemployment (Earliest 1996) 31.9 33.8 Youth unemployment (15-24 years of age), (Earliest 1996) 69.5 56.4 % of households living under the relative poverty rate (70% medium consumption), (Earliest 1997 Latest 2009) , 19 31.1 % of children living under the relative poverty line (70% medium consumption) (Latest 2009) - 34.1 GINI coefficient (Earliest 1990) 0.223 0.315Sources: State Statistical Office, Public Expenditure Review Child wellbeing indicators by wealth quintile Poorest Richest Quintile Quintile Under-five mortality (poorest 60% and richest 40%) 25 - Infant mortality (poorest 60% and richest 40%) 22 - Children ages 18-29 months who have received all of the eight recommend vaccines 60 77 Children 36-59 currently attending early childhood education 1.4 24.7 Primary school net attendance ratio 86.2 99.9 Primary school completion rate 61.9 99.6 Secondary school net attendance 33.7 89.6 Early marriage (% married before age 18) 19 6 % of children registered at birth 88.5 99.1 % of women 15-49 who believe under certain circumstances a husband is justified in beating his wife/ 31.6 8.1 partner % of children 2-14 years old who experience any form of psychological or physical punishment 72.1 45.4Sources: Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey* Unless otherwise specified 5
  6. IntroductionS ince independence in 1991, the former and others who would be better off living with tween accountabilities, planning and expendi- Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has families or in smaller group homes are living in tures, which hinder some policy commitments made steady progress in ensuring politi- large institutions with inadequate care. While from being transformed into programmaticcal stability and economic growth in a multi- new legal provisions and strategies to enhance actions at both the central and local levels; andethnic state. Two decades on, the country is the quality of justice for children deserve to be third, strengthening national infrastructures fornow firmly placed as a middle income country, applauded, more work is required to ensure the child right monitoring and reporting.and a candidate for membership in the Euro- new juvenile justice provisions are fully imple-pean Union. mented and resourced. Despite the good intentions of successive gov- ernments in this country, and the ratification ofThese gains have indeed had a positive impact Weak linkages between accountabilities, poli- the Convention on the Rights of the Child andon the lives of most children in the country. cies and budgetary allocations hinder some a range of other international human rightsHowever, not all children have benefited equally. policy commitments from being translated treaties, many children in the former Yugoslav into actions at both the central and local levels. Republic of Macedonia, are still not enjoyingThe aggregate numbers show encouraging Infrastructure for monitoring child rights, while basic rights to education, health care, socialprogress towards achieving the Millennium functioning, needs to be strengthened. protection and participation. If this situation isDevelopment Goals and an improvement in not addressed, not only will this continue to af-the situation of children and women. However, As the country moves towards further integra- fect the children concerned, but the impact willlooking under the surface, it is clear that many tion with its European neighbours and the be felt for generations to come.children are still being left behind. Approxi- economy continues to grow, it is essential thatmately 34 per cent of children live below the measures are put in place to ensure ALL chil- UNICEF is continuing to work with our partnersrelative poverty line. Only six out of ten chil- dren benefit. A greater emphasis on reaching in both national and local government, civildren from the poorest quintile complete pri- those in the bottom economic quintiles and society, private sector and other internationalmary school, compared to all ten of their peers other vulnerable children will ensure the best organizations and bilateral donors to make surefrom the richest quintile. The Roma are among prospects for success. ALL children benefit from the country’s devel-the most vulnerable, with only four in ten Roma opment.children completing primary school. Children As disparities and exclusion have grown overwith disabilities are also missing out on their the past two decades, a greater focus on theright to education: it is estimated that only 10 most vulnerable is essential. This strategy mayper cent of these children are in school. be more difficult, but the returns in children’s lives saved and enriched can be greater still.Far too many children in the country still suf- Sheldon Yettfer from abuse, exploitation and violence and Our 2010-2015 Country Programme emphasise UNICEF Representativeare denied other rights. Some, mainly Roma, three strategies: first, redoubling the efforts ofchildren are not registered at birth. While there the last two decades so that all children, are ablehas been progress in the deinstitutionalisation to benefit from inclusive and quaity services;of children too many children with disabilities second, strengthening the weak linkages be-6 Working Towards Equity for Children
  7. Only 14 per cent of preschool aged children attend formal preschool programmes. A child in a kindergarten in the municipality of Cair 7
  8. MOTHER AND CHILD HEALTH I n the initial years after its independence became the first in the region to be certified in 1991, the country’s rapid growth was as iodine-deficiency free. HIV/AIDS rates are at matched by major strides in mother and less than 0.1 per cent. child health care. Mortality rates fell and immu- nization rates rose, to name just two positive But more work is needed. Perinatal mortality is indicators. Yet the pace of improvement has three times higher than the EU average and im- slowed in recent years and has failed to keep munization coverage is far lower in rural areas up with the country’s broader economic gains. and among some ethnic groups. The World UNICEF has been working with the Ministry of Health Organization recommends that women Health, non-governmental agencies and others have at least four health checks during pregnan- to develop strategies and action plans to help cy, yet the national average is 2.8 health check the country make additional gains. - ups. Only four in ten pregnant women go for regular check-ups during first three months, a As the country moved away from its social- critical time to prevent complications. Pockets of ist past and through its economic and political unimmunized children do exist, with significant transition, health initiatives helped prevent disparities among the Roma and Albanian com- thousends of unnecessary deaths of children. munities, and those living in rural areas. The country achieved the impressive results in To overcome these deficiencies, UNICEF has reducing under-five mortality, from 36 per 1,000 developed the Health System Strengthen- live births in 1990 to 11 per 1,000 live births in ing Project to help the Ministry of Health and 2008. Skilled birth deliveries are almost univer- other relevant public health groups improve sal outside of the Roma community. Immuniza- their planning, budgeting and implementing of tion rates have been steady at around 95 per public health programs for mothers and their cent for the past decade. In 2003, the country children. This includes the creation of long-8 Working Towards Equity for Children
  9. term policies with clear and integrated targets,instead of continuing to rely on short-termprojects that are updated from year to year, orscrapped.In practical terms, this means that as part ofa broader plan to improve mother and childhealth care, medical equipment must be kept upto standards, and outreach services expanded.Health professionals must be adequately trainedto provide high quality and newly recommend-ed vaccines, and curricula at medical and nurs-ing colleges must meet the latest internationalguidelines. Regional differences must also berecognized so that medical resources are di-vided in a way that ensures the neediest parts ofthe country get adequate resources.UNICEF is also undertaking a broad nutri-tion plan to tackle anemia, one of the biggestcauses of complications during pregnancies.One part of this strategy includes surveyingabout 8,000 households to assess the qualityof their diets. The results of the survey will helpdetermine the scope of an anticipated UNICEF-supported flour fortification program which willensure staple foods contain adequate min-eral and vitamins to improve the health of themothers and decrease the number of complica-tions at birth. Mother and child in the village Studenicani during a visit from the local patronage nurse 9
  10. 1.1 Veles at the Forefront of UNICEF’S Immunization Program I n the years just after independence, development of outreach services to nity nurses and introducing an inte- when the country was no longer part immunize unregistered children and grated electronic immunization registry of Yugoslavia’s comprehensive im- people who move frequently as well as that will be used to improve planning munization program, health officials those living in rural and remote areas. and forecasting, as well as become a rushed to find new sources of vaccines Rather than waiting for patients to visit tool for monitoring individual cover- and create a nationwide inoculation hospitals to get immunized, UNICEF age. program almost from scratch. Unfortu- has worked with the government to nately, not all children were vaccinated provide vaccines at community centers The city of Veles, about an hour’s drive at that time, a fact that was confirmed and other locations. south of the capital, provides a glimpse recently during an outbreak of mumps of how the government’s immunization among young people, an illness that In keeping with its goal of develop- system has improved under UNICEF’s would have been prevented had they ing long-term strategies, UNICEF has guidance, and what improvements will been immunized years earlier. helped finalize a five-year National be made in the future. Immunization Strategy that began in Immunization rates are now well 2010. To prepare, UNICEF assessed the Doctors in the main clinic there immu- over 90 per cent in most parts of the state of the country’s immunization nize about 60 babies a day and dis- country and among most ethnic and program, including procurement and abled children are immunized at higher wealth quintiles, thanks in part because distribution, in 2008. With UNICEF sup- rates than elsewhere in the country. To UNICEF provided large quantities of port, the government will begin distrib- reach the unimmunized, nine commu- vaccines and helped the government uting polyvalent vaccines that do not nity nurses go door to door to identify develop an effective immunization require children to return for second newborn infants, especially those who program. and third doses. This will reduce the are not registered at birth, according to burden on parents and allow doctors to the chief of community nursing, Radica With UNICEF help, the government has spend more time on outreach services. Dimovska. As a result of these efforts, been able to maintain a sustainable immunization rates in Veles are among system for vaccines supplies. More The Immunization Strategy also fore- the highest in the country at 95 per recently UNICEF has emphasized the sees strengthening the role of commu- cent.10 Working Towards Equity for Children
  11. Unfortunately, not all health clinics boast thesame results. Doctors and nurses are in shortsupply, particularly in rural communities, andsome clinics lack vehicles to do outreach work.There is also uneven cooperation betweenhealth clinics and local non-profit groups thatcould help raise awareness of the need to getchildren immunized in remote and poorer com-munities, and some ethnic groups.In Gusalkovo, a farming village of ethnic Alba-nians, nurses from Veles said that people feelthat looking after their tobacco crops shouldtake priority over the needs of children. That iswhy raising the awareness of the importanceof ensuring children are immunized is a majorcomponent of the multi-year immunizationstrategy that UNICEF helped formulate.“While the immunization strategy includesplans to improve the efficiency of the supplyside of immunisation programme, it recogn-ises that demand side barriers must also beaddressed, said Igor Veljkovik, UNICEF Health ”Officer. A pediatrician is making sure his patient is comfortable during regular medical check-up at the local clinic in Veles 11
  12. 1.2 Safe Motherhood: Baby Friendly Hospitals O ne of the most effective ways UNICEF found that many pregnant as baby-friendly, which means doc- to reduce child mortality rates women were not registered with tors and their institutions are follow- and improve the health of new- gynaecologists and visit doctors far ing a set of “baby-friendly” standards born children is to expand services less frequently than needed. On aver- endorsed by UNICEF and WHO. Dur- for and outreach to pregnant women. age, pregnant women receive just 2.8 ing her four health checkups, doctors While mortality rates for children less checkups instead of the four checkups found that she had pregnancy-induced than five years old have been cut dra- recommended by the World Health high blood pressure, and was at risk matically, the country still has one of Organization. As worrying, only four of suffering from eclampsia, a condi- the highest rates of perinatal mortality in ten pregnant women go for regu- tion that can cause seizures and even (still births and deaths of newborns lar checkups during the first three death in mothers and their children. within first week after delivery) in Eu- months, when many risks in the sec- rope, at of 14.6 per 1,000 live births, or ond and third trimesters, and during “I understood how serious the prob- nearly three times more than the EU delivery, can be prevented. lem was, so I was very grateful they average. could diagnose it on time, Elizabeta ” At regular checkups, doctors and said. UNICEF has been working with the nurses can head off problems such as government to improve matters by underweight births, infectious dis- As a precaution, Elizabeta was sent to developing new training programs for eases and high blood pressure. Some- Skopje, the capital city, and the State health care workers, pushing for bet- thing as simple as identifying anemia Clinic, which was the best-equipped ter equipment in maternity wards and in pregnant women and improving to deal with any potential problems. providing additional tools to the coun- their diets can reduce risks. So can There, her son, Filip, was born prema- try’s community nurses, who are often persuading pregnant women to give ture and underweight at 1.6 kilograms. in the best position to help pregnant up smoking, a leading cause of low He was placed in an incubator and in mothers. birth weights. time improved. In a comprehensive situation analy- Take Elizabeta Ristova. The hospital in Still, just a few days before Elizabeta sis of perinatal care in the country, her town of Vinica has been certified gave birth, another baby on the same12 Working Towards Equity for Children
  13. ward died from a severe cardiac anomaly, acondition that if detected early could havebeen prevented.To respond to the system gaps, UNICEF hassupported the development of a National SafeMotherhood Strategy. Part of the strategyincludes increasing resources for communitynurses so they can reach pregnant womenin economically marginalized communities,such as the Roma, or in remote corners of thecountry, where it is difficult to reach a doctor’soffice on a regular basis. As it is, only half ofall pregnant women benefit from current out-reach services from community nurses.UNICEF is updating training guidelines forhealth professionals to ensure they receivecontinuous education and comply with themost recent clinical practices. Some trainingguidelines are being entirely revised for thefirst time in years. UNICEF is helping updatemedical school curricula so the next genera-tion of doctors and nurses has the best toolspossible. Baby asleap while waiting for medical check-up in Veles 13
  14. EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT AND QUALITY EDUCATION T he cornerstone of any society is its edu- Only 15 per cent of children with disabilities attend cational system because it helps produce primary school. Only 60 per cent of Roma children open-minded adults capable of building enroll in primary schools, while only 40 per cent a vibrant country. The work of educating future graduate, a much smaller percentage than from citizens starts early, at home with the family other groups. Marked gaps also exist between and then in preschool and primary school. the Roma and other ethnic groups in secondary school attendance in particular for girls. This country has made many strides in the two decades since independence; 92 per cent of With support from UNICEF the government has , children are now enrolled in primary school, for started to increase investment in quality educa- instance, and the government hopes to achieve tion, not just because it is a child’s right, but be- universal attendance by 2015. cause it is the key to developing human capital. But years of insufficient investment in educa- UNICEF helped the government create a nation- tion have led to rundown facilities, unmotivated al early childhood development (ECD) policy teachers, and poor student learning outcomes. that, when implemented, will ensure increased Furthermore, just 14 per cent of preschool aged access to quality preschool. The policy is based children attend formal preschool programmes, on the understanding that from the day they one of the worst rates in Europe. This is partly are born to their first day in primary school, because some parents mistakenly view kinder- children develop the skills needed to succeed in gartens as just day care centers, but also be- school. UNICEF has helped introduce ECD out- cause kindergartens are found in only 40 out of reach services, including parenting education the country’s 84 municipalities. programs and playgroups for children.14 Working Towards Equity for Children
  15. With support from UNICEF the country has ,also embraced the Child-Friendly Schools ini-tiative, a holistic and rights-based approach toeducational reform. The initiative provides sixstandards and indicators: Inclusiveness; effec-tiveness; gender-responsiveness; healthy, safe,and protective environments for girls and boys;democratic participation by children, teachers,parents and community members, and; respectfor children’s rights and multiculturalism.Years of limited investment in teacher pro-fessional development prompted UNICEF tosupport teacher and curricula development toaddress quality deficiencies. The emphasis inthe classroom is often on acquiring knowledgethrough memorization rather than on develop-ing critical thinking skills. This is one reasonstudents in this country rank near the bottom inEurope on math and literacy surveys.UNICEF also supports life skills education sub-ject as a compulsory subject and other multi-culturalism extracurricular activities, to helpchildren cope with violence and promote diver-sity and respect among ethnic groups. A child playing in Skopje kindergarten “Bratstvo” 15
  16. 2.1. Early Childhood Development: Preparing Children for School O ne of the most critical periods in give parents more parenting skills and tivities. The center serves the village’s a child’s development occurs be- give children better social skills and 100 or so children. Mothers can bring tween the ages of zero and six. confidence. children three years or younger twice a Yet a recent UNICEF-backed survey of week to playgroups, while the village’s Early Learning Development Standards Only 14 per cent of preschool aged (ELDS) in this country revealed that the children attend formal preschool pro- focus has been on children’s physical grammes, one of the lowest rates in well-being and motor development, the region. So UNICEF through its early , and not enough emphasis on cognitive, childhood development (ECD) projects, social and emotional skills. has supported several interventions to ensure that these children get the de- Kindergartens are the only type of early velopment and learning opportunities childhood development (ECD) paid by they need. the state, which covers 85 per cent of the cost. Even so, some parents can- UNICEF has helped boost access to not afford to send their children to preschool services at 20 centers around kindergarten. Other parents mistakenly the country. One of those centers is in view them as little more than child care the small, rural village of Logovardi, centers. where UNICEF helped local authorities and parents to transform a dilapidated This is why UNICEF is helping the gov- building into an early childhood devel- ernment develop a national ECD policy. opment center. (The municipality Bitola In addition to expanding the services now runs the center.) offered by the 44 existing kindergar- tens, the policy aims to add more There, parents learn parenting skills community-based ECD services. Once and children of all ages have access to Children playing in Skopje kindergarten “Bratstvo” implemented, the ECD policy will also day care, basic education and social ac-16 Working Towards Equity for Children
  17. 18 children between three- and six-years oldcan visit the center three times a week for twohours a session.“One aspect of our activities is to prepare themfor school through learning their letters andcounting skills, along with songs, the seasonsand holidays, said Radka, a teacher at the ”center, which her two sons also attend. “But westimulate their imaginations through creativerole-playing, storytelling and more. ”A crucial factor in the success of the centerhas been its acceptance by parents, who havebeen open to the new methods and approachesRadka and the other teachers are using. In thelong run, this cooperation will diminish theeducational disparity between rural and urbancommunities. A child playing in Skopje kindergarten “Bratstvo” 17
  18. 2.2. Child-Friendly Schools: Multiculturalism and Respect for Children’s Rights O ne of UNICEF’s core missions ry school in Kicevo, where the residents show unity between the school’s 800 Al- in this country is to break down are a mix of Macedonian, Albanians, banian students, 350 Roma, 200 Mace- walls and reduce disparities Turkish and Roma. Lulzim Mehmedi, the donians and 200 Turks. between ethnic groups, especially in school’s principal, has worked hard to schools and classrooms, which are in- convince skeptical parents and teachers Children, with their parents’ permis- creasingly segregated. This polarisation that the future of the school – and even sion, toured the homes of families from can reinforce stereotypes and perpetu- the country – is in working together different ethnic groups. Older family ate tensions. and dissolving old boundaries between members explained the history of their ethnic groups. cuisine, holidays, religions and other To break this cycle, UNICEF has promot- customs. Then students visited churches ed multiculturalism in schools in ethni- “In the beginning, there were problems and mosques, in many cases for the cally mixed municipalities so children with parents who reacted to things in first time. can gain a new perspective on how to school, said Mehmedi, who grew up ” in an Albanian village as a child and Several students said they now meet grow together. and play more freely with children from learned Macedonian when he attended high school in Kicevo. “But we gradually other ethnic groups. “We communicate Building on the Child-Friendly Schools differently, said one boy. “We find each ” initiative, eights schools in Kicevo, included them and they overcame this issue once they were informed of what other and meet at different places and Struga and Kumanovo were included mix together more. ” in a UNICEF pilot programme on mul- was actually going on. ” ticulturalism as part of a UN joint pro- The messages of multiculturalism are The children have done role playing ex- gramme. The programme includes everywhere at the school. In the lobby, ercises in front of their parents to raise classes in Macedonian, Albanian and an exhibit by the Green Club includes awareness. Some students are taking other languages, and activities where placards written in Albanian and Mace- second-language classes in Albanian children interact with different ethnic donian. The history of the school is also and Macedonian. Extracurricular ac- groups, as well as parents and teachers. written in two languages side by side. tivities have been created, including The logo of the school includes four teaching students about business skills, One of the best examples of this new energy savings and other topics that approach is the Sande Shterjoski prima- arms linked in the shape of a square to will be relevant in their later lives.18 Working Towards Equity for Children
  19. Even in Kicevo, one of the more successfulprograms, problems remain. Some teachers andparents still do not want to participate. The pop-ulation of students is on the decline and Romastudents, from some of the most disadvantagedfamilies, do not always participate. Funding isalways tight; this year the school’s budget wascut by 40 per cent and the school has a hardtime paying the school’s utilities, Mehmedi said.Every three months, Mehmedi evaluates theprogress of the program using various bench-marks created by UNICEF including self-eval- ,uations by teachers. UNICEF is also helpingschools like Mehmedi’s develop action plansand set up working groups with teachers fromall grades to introduce and sustain change, saidNora Sabani, an education specialist at UNICEF .Mehmedi is hopeful that the multicultural mes-sage is here to stay. “It is really about institu-tional change, to do everything through team-work, and to involve the local authorities, he ”said. “That’s the key to sustainability.” A child participating in a multiculturalism programme in Kicevo elementary school “Sande Shterjoski” 19
  20. 2.3. Child-Friendly Schools: Thinking Mathematics P erhaps no subject is more critical competitive. Young generations need to At its core, Thinking Mathematics teach- to a country’s well-being and po- have the right skills to be able to thrivees students to search for creative ways tential growth than mathematics. in a robust environment. ” to solve math problems not just learn- It forms the basis of business, engineer- ing by rote a single method introduced ing, finance, the sciences and a host of UNICEF identified a solution: A pro- by the teacher. Instead of just seek- other academic and economic fields. gramme called Thinking Mathematics ing answers, students are asked, and Unfortunately, students in this coun- that makes a shift to learning maths even rewarded, for finding alternatives. try have some of the lowest math test “concepts” UNICEF brought programme Teachers are encouraged to use games . scores in Europe, a cause for concern. experts to the country in 2009, when and more interactive methods to inspire they trained teachers from 50 schools in students. UNICEF analyzed this problem in 2009 theory and practice. The teachers then and determined that the low quality of returned to their schools to roll out the “We are encouraging kids to think about instruction is one of main causes. Many programme to other math teachers. math and think logically, not just memo- teachers continue to use methods more rize formulas, said Lence Stefanoska, ” suited to the country’s socialist past, The goals were to use Thinking Math- one of the two teachers at a primary when conformity was the goal, rather ematics to change the way that math school in Ohrid who was trained to than today, when businesses and the is taught in the schools, and to raise teach her colleagues how to use the government must compete with more the level of math that students learn. Thinking Mathematics method. “The nimble economic rivals across the UNICEF and the Ministry of Education evidence that this system works is when globe. decided to focus on first applying these we give tests. The students are finding new techniques to children in grades new ways of solving problems. ” “Teachers don’t teach students how one through three, before they took to think, only mechanical drills to get national math aptitude tests at age nine. Stefanoska’s students have embraced the right answers, said Nora Sabani, ” The new math program coincided with the new approach. In a lesson on telling an education specialist at UNICEF “Be- . the introduction of a new national cur- time, her 15 eight- and nine-year olds ing part of Europe, it’s important to be riculum for primary schools. bounced eagerly out their seats when20 Working Towards Equity for Children
  21. asked what time it was on a clock. “When didyou wake up, Stefanoska asked in one exam- ”ple. Almost all the children shouted an answer.She called on the quieter students to keep theminvolved, and bunched them into small groupsto create a competition. “They want to be fasterand to check up on each other, she said. ”UNICEF and the government are now monitor-ing the program to see what has worked andwhat needs to be improved, and plans are afootto introduce Thinking Mathematics to all 350primary schools in the country. Preparationsare also being made to improve literacy byintroducing a similar programme called “Read-ing for Comprehension and Writing in the EarlyGrades. ” 11 year old boy thinking mathematics – during a class on time measurement in Ohrid elementary school “Bratstvo i edinstvo” 21
  22. CHILD PROTECTION D espite recent strides, children throughout the problems is an ambitious juvenile justice law that country still suffer from abuse, exploitation came into force in 2009 and for the first time treats and violence. Six per cent of children under children separately from adults and aims to help five years old are not registered at birth, limiting children at risk. UNICEF not only helped the govern- their access to public services. Children are abused ment draft the law, but also helped develop a multi- at home or on the streets, where some live and faceted plan for implementing it. work. Orphans, children with disabilities and others are living in large institutions with inadequate care. The plan includes teaching social workers, police- Children convicted of breaking the law are often men, lawyers, mediators, judges and prosecutors put in prisons that lack restorative care. More effort how to apply the law. UNICEF developed materials needs to be made in addressing prevention and for curricula, training programs and, soon, manu- rehabilitation. als, to ensure that all professionals working with children are equipped to carry out the law. UNICEF The scale of the problem is a concern. The country is also working with the intra-ministry council to has the second highest juvenile offense rate in the create a juvenile delinquency prevention strategy. region after Bulgaria, according to UNICEF’s Lost in Justice System Report (2007). Other research tells One of the biggest challenges in helping children us that nearly 70 per cent of children 2 to 14 years who have run afoul of the law is not just keeping old are subject to some form of physical or psycho- them out of detention, but also finding other sup- logical abuse at home or by a caregiver; 16 per cent port for them. To that end, UNICEF is working with are subject to severe physical punishment a local non-governmental organization to develop a mentoring program for volunteers who would act To address these issues, UNICEF is helping the gov- as big brothers and sisters. ernment strengthen child protection laws, regula- tions and standards; training the people who apply UNICEF is helping the Center for Social Work create them; establishing databases to share information a database that tracks children who need protective more efficiently and; improving monitoring to en- care. Currently, all paperwork is done manually, is sure the quality of the services provided. not done consistently and often does not capture The legal framework for solving some of these the needed information. “Information varies from22 Working Towards Equity for Children
  23. worker to worker, so there is no reliable source of data, ”said Biljana Lubarovska, UNICEF child protection officer.Traditionally, children who lack parental care, have dis-abilities or have been victims of abuse have been put inlarge institutions where children often receive inadequateattention. UNICEF favours closing or transforming theseinstitutions and, when children cannot be reunited withtheir biological parents, supports on a temporary basisother family-based alternative care e.g. foster families andsmaller group homes where children can get more person-alized care.For parents who care for their children with disabilities,UNICEF funded a pilot day care center with specially trainedsocial workers. The model was so successful that thereare now 21 centers in the country. Critically, the govern-ment has taken them over and plans to open more. UNICEFworks with the centers to ensure the quality of their care.Still, social workers remain overburdened and under-funded. While the number of skilled social workers in thecountry has increased 17 per cent between 2006 and 2008,many of them continue to handle hundreds of cases andare able to devote less than half their time to field work.Compounding matters, deep budgets cuts were promptedby the economic downturn. And as the country has be-come more prosperous, foreign aid has declined, hurtingfunding for these and other child protection services.UNICEF remains committed to child protection, its secondlargest programme in the country after education and earlychildhood care. The organization plans to further developtraining programs for social workers and create specialmodules for street children and other high risk groups. Theinformation in the new database on child protective ser-vices should help in the creation of more effective policiesand make individual case management more efficient. Roma children living in poverty in the outskrits of Skopje 23
  24. 3.1. A Family for the Most Forgotten Children A s eight-year-old Lena finishes Though they received basic parenting Another pillar of UNICEF’s deinstitution- singing, her family applauds, skills, Zoica and Vanco were not fully alization effort is the day care center like everyone from her 20-year-old prepared when Lena became confused the one that Lena visits in Krusevo. sister, Ana, to her grandmother, Irena. and afraid. The scene looks ordinary, but for one These family-based support centers detail: Lena is a foster child born with UNICEF has been working with the give parents of children with disabilities Down Syndrome. Ministry of Labor and Social Policy to a chance to take a break from caring for address these and other shortcomings, their children, who themselves have a Abandoned by her biological parents, like the lack of standards and training to place where they can receive therapy, Lena spent the first four years of her help social workers introduce alterna- and support to enhance their knowledge life in a state institution that lacked staff tive forms of care and support services. and skills that would help them enrol in trained to care for disabled children. To that end, in 2006, UNICEF helped the mainstream education system. Some five years ago, Zoica, a mother establish basic standards for potential of two in the town of Krusevo, saw a foster parents and developed a recruit- As the example of Lena showed, there television report about Lena’s institution ing program for the Center for Social are responsible families waiting for the that affected her deeply. She and her Work. chance to foster a child. UNICEF’s at- husband, Vanco, decided they had room tempts to address the system’s short- for one more child. These efforts are part of UNICEF’s ongo- comings will make it easier for other ing efforts to promote deinstitutionaliza- families open their doors – and hearts After applying at the local Center for So- tion. Research has shown that a child’s – to other foster children. cial Work to become foster parents, they development is substantially enhanced waited for more than two years – a not in a caring family environment. That is uncommon length – to get Lena. They why UNICEF works to reunite children had no idea what disability their child with their biological parents and, when would have, and they were nervous that is impossible, to pair them with fos- when they learned about Lena’s. ter care parents on a temporary basis.24 Working Towards Equity for Children
  25. Research has shown that a child’s development is substantially enhanced in a caring family environment. Father and child in Strumica playground 25
  26. 3.2. More Care, Less Paperwork: A Day in the Life of a Social Worker I t’s 8.30 a.m. and another demanding day support to some 300 children with disabili- ing only 40 per cent of their time in the field is starting at the Center for Social Work ties and 40 drug users who need treatment. and the rest of the time in the office. in Prilep. Strained budgets and a muddy A few years ago, there were few or none of division of labor means that in addition these cases reported at the center. So the Center for Social Work in Prilep and to tackling the cases for which they were several other centers, at UNICEF’s encour- trained, the social workers Smilka, Liljana And while the number of skilled social agement, are restructuring their offices and Zoran are drowning in paperwork and workers in the country has increased 17 so some employees can administer cash tasks that other, less-trained workers could per cent between 2006 and 2008, the social benefits while others can focus on specific handle. workers in Prilep handle as many as 700 social welfare tasks. cases each year, more than five times the Like their counterparts abroad, the trio national average. Despite the restructuring effort that started supports vulnerable groups, complex and in 2007, the Center for Social Work in Prilep is time-consuming work that requires spe- The job is “so stressful, we should qualify still severely overloaded. But the social work- cific skills and multiple state agencies. But for early retirement, joked Smilka, who ” ers there are hopeful that over time, they will because they are shorthanded, the three so- said that clients can be loud, aggressive or have more time for fieldwork to help parents cial workers also distribute aid checks and uncommunicative. develop better care for their children, and to handle other basic tasks. At Prilep’s Center detect and support families and children at for Social Work, 30 full-time and six part- UNICEF and the Ministry of Labour and risk. That, in turn, should reduce the number time workers identify, verify and administer Social Policy are trying to correct this im- of cases of child abuse, juvenile delinquency social benefits to about 9,000 people. balance by developing operating standards and children who are abandoned. for social workers, building a case manage- The number and types of reported cases has ment database for the Centers for Social “We may end up having thicker files, but mushroomed. The center in Prilep handles Work and creating a professional develop- they will be more detailed, says Snezana, ” about 180 divorce cases per year, some 30 ment programme for training staff. the director of the center in Prilep. “With cases of domestic violence and about 90 fewer individual cases, I will be able to cases of children at risk of being in conflict Presently, social workers trained for a hands- spend more time helping the children and with the law. In addition, the center provides on work with vulnerable groups are spend- families in need.”26 Working Towards Equity for Children
  27. Social worker in the Center for Social Work in Prilep drowning in paper-work 27
  28. 3.3. Building a Justice System for Children O n the outskirts of the capital of There is even confusion about what Creating the infrastructure to apply the Skopje, Ranka Milanovic houses sort of cases these institutions should law is a challenge. So UNICEF is work- 37 children between the ages of handle. Victims of abuse, for instance, ing with the Ministry of Justice and the 7 and 18. Some have been in trouble should not be put with children who Ministry of Labor and Social Policy to with the law and all of them are at risk have broken the law. Remarkably, some introduce educational and vocational if the rehabilitation and reintegration children have admitted themselves to programmes to help prevent juvenile programmes at this juvenile care insti- these institutions. delinquency. UNICEF is supporting tution fail. training courses for professionals who In this vacuum, older residents harass work with children. UNICEF is develop- The semi-open facility is designed to younger ones. Educators do not have ing standards essential for the adminis- give these children a second chance by time to control what the children bring tration of this system. providing elementary-level education, back with them – including stolen goods while older residents attend secondary – to the institution. Children in their When these reforms are implemented, schools in the city. early teens smoke freely in the weath- institutions like Ranka Milanovic will be ered buildings. There are few entertain- able to ensure that only those children Yet a lack of communication between ment options in the facility. that need extra support are admitted, state agencies means these children and that the institutions are equipped to are often left on their own without The new juvenile justice law addresses provide children with rehabilitation and adequate ways to measure their prog- many of these problems. The staff at re-integration services. ress. The Ministry of Labour and Social Ranka Milanovic and other institutions Policy administer institutions like Ranka is supposed to be trained and knowl- At a broader level, UNICEF is supporting Milanovic, which work with the local edgeable of children’s rights. New pre- alternatives to large institutions such as Centers for Social Work. But the over- ventive measures, including education- smaller group homes and foster fami- worked social workers are often unable al, vocational and recreational activities, lies. to allocate the time needed to monitor will be introduced. the children.28 Working Towards Equity for Children
  29. All poverty indicators show that children experience poverty at a higher rate than do other demographic groups. Roma child living and working in Skopje suburbs 29
  30. CHILD FOCUSED GOVERNANCE S ince 2003, the country has made steady building, UNICEF is helping the government progress in economic growth. However make these linkages. wealth generation has been uneven. Recog- nising that children are among the poorest demo- At the national level UNICEF is working with graphic group, UNICEF has been working with National Commission on Child Rights – an inter- the government and other partners to make sure ministerial body responsible for monitoring children are benefiting from these developments. the implementation of the national action plan for children and the Convention on the Rights All poverty measurements show that children of the Child. The commission members have experience poverty at higher degrees than do been trained by UNICEF in child rights monitor- other demographic groups. The latest national ing and reporting. UNICEF is now working with statistics highlight that some 34 per cent of chil- them to improve their efficiency and transpar- dren are living under the relative poverty line. ency and is providing technical support to de- velop actions to address the recent recommen- However, making economic growth work for dations of the UN Committee on the Rights of children is hampered by weak linkages among the Child. accountabilities, planning and expenditures. UNICEF is also generating evidence and compil- All too often, the ability of the country’s policy ing knowledge on global best practices in pro- planners to disperse public resources where child and pro-poor economic and social policies. they are most needed has been limited by insuf- Some of the more recent studies include studies ficient accurate and disaggregated data and on Child Poverty, Child Focused Public Expendi- knowledge on best practices. ture and the Child-Well Being in Difficult Eco- Through providing technical guidance, generat- nomic Times. Not only have these studies shed ing new studies on best practices and capacity light on the situation of children in the country,30 Working Towards Equity for Children
  31. they have also provided policy makers with possiblesolutions to ensure budget allocations and policies aremore equitable.At the local level UNICEF is working with municipali-ties to increase the ability of local politicians and of-ficials to put children’s issues at the center of localplanning.Through the Child-Friendly Municipality initiative,UNICEF has helped 11 municipalities create local childrights commissions and provided tools to help themcollect and analyze data on the situation of children intheir municipalities.UNICEF has also trained administrators in each townabout child rights, how to view local laws through theprism of children and how to monitor indicators likemortality rates and the numbers of teachers that canhelp them track their progress. To give children a loud-er voice, UNICEF has also supported the creation ofyouth councils in the 11 participating municipalities. At the local level UNICEF is working with municipalities to increase the ability of local politicians and officials to put children’s issues at the center of local planning. A family in Tetovo 31
  32. 4.1 Invisible to the State: The Birth Registration Problem B itola, the country’s second larg- and education. Only six out of every ten performed the birth died soon after. est city, is relatively affluent. Yet Roma children enrol in primary school Samira’s birth was never registered so on the city’s northern edge, most and two of them are likely to drop out. she cannot attend school. Her younger of the Roma population lives in shoddy Of the four children who complete brother, Leon, was born in a hospital, homes along muddy, garbage-strewn primary school, only three will enrol in yet he also lacks birth registration pa- streets. In some places, conditions are secondary school, and only two will at- pers. so bad that signs on local roads are cut tend class. down and sold as scrap metal. The hard- “The family just didn’t have the money ship is endemic. Statistics show that To reverse this cycle, UNICEF is sup- to pay for the registration process, says ” Roma are two and a half times more porting efforts to boost birth registra- Goce Tosev, a field worker with a local likely to live in poverty than others in tion rates, especially among the Roma. NGO that has partnered with UNICEF to the country. Working with several NGOs, UNICEF identify unregistered children. has identified the scope of the child reg- More than eight per cent of Roma par- istration problem and raised awareness UNICEF believes that providing one-off ents do not register their children at of the issue in the population at large. incentives for parents to register their birth, compared to six per cent in the children, or introducing hefty fines for population at large, because they are In one project in 2009, 840 children were families that fail to do so, is counter- suspicious of the government, do not found without certificates in 24 munici- productive. Instead, UNICEF has been understand the benefits of registering palities. Frequently, these children have working to establish sustainable pro- or are detered by the cost in doing so. unregistered parents and live in poor grams to facilitate child registration Many Roma also give birth at home households. through its Child Friendly Municipality without a doctor or other medical pro- initiative. fessional being present. Take Samira, 10-year old who has six siblings. No one is employed in her This plan provides the tools for trans- Without proper registration, Roma chil- family, which includes her grandmother. parent and participatory decision- dren cannot qualify for social benefits, Samira was born at home without a making where the voices, priorities and health care (including immunization) doctor present, and the midwife who rights of children are integrated into32 Working Towards Equity for Children
  33. local public policies and programs. Newly cre-ated Child Rights Commissions on the munici-pal level have been monitoring the condition ofchildren and producing policies to address theneeds of the most vulnerable. In Bitola, for in-stance, the Child Rights Commission produced asituational analysis and action plan that includesthe issue of unregistered children on the localgovernment’s agenda.This systematic approach should reduce thenumber of unregistered children and that pre-ventive measures, such as the education of par-ents about the benefits of registration, will betaken to ensure that no child remains invisible tothe state. Samira, 10 is living in Bajro, Roma settlement near Bitola. Her birth was never registered so she cannot attend school 33
  34. 4.2. Building a Child-Friendly Municipality I n countries like this one, where the teachers, doctors and so on – receive “We have the greatest respect for UNI- central government is decentralizing training from UNICEF on the rights CEF which provides stimulus and sup- , power, and local governments have of children and how to view and draft port to make sure children are at the limited human or financial resources, policies through the prism of children. center of our focus, the mayor said, ” delivering child-focused programs at Under UNICEF’s guidance, the commis- flanked by members of the commis- the community level can be challenging. sion in Prilep created a local action plan, sion. “In addition to training, UNICEF or an agenda of child-friendly projects. provides ideas that we can implement. That’s why UNICEF has been helping UNICEF helps municipalities take initia- local politicians and officials increase Members of the commission also tive at the local level. ” their ability to focus on education, were taught how to create and moni- preschools, urban planning and other tor benchmarks, such as immunization One of the most substantive child- critical elements of child-friendly mu- rates and student attendance that help friendly initiatives is the formation of nicipalities. determine each municipality’s progress. the youth council, which gives children UNICEF donated computers and data a greater voice in local politics. The There are now 11 municipalities that are monitoring tools to the 11 municipalities children formed their own commission, part of the “child-friendly municipali- so they can input data for each of the 29 which is being expanded to include ties” initiative, up from six in 2006. One benchmarks. That data is then measured high schools and middle school stu- of the best functioning among them is against other cities in the program, cre- dents. UNICEF is supporting training for in Prilep, the country’s fifth largest city ating a competitive environment where students and youth in the eleven mu- where children are about one-quarter of municipalities strive to improve the nicipalities on how they can have their the population. Like other municipali- lives of children at the local level. voice heard in the policy-making pro- ties in the program, Prilep has set up its cess at the local level and decisions that own child rights commission composed In his five years in office, Prilep’s mayor, affect them, through organizing, sharing of members of the municipal council. Marjan Risteski, has not just embraced ideas and jointly petitioning municipal UNICEF’s message, but used it as a plat- lawmakers to take action that would Members of the commission – who form for taking additional steps to im- improve their lives. are at the same time, school principals, prove the condition of the city’s children.34 Working Towards Equity for Children
  35. In Prilep, mailboxes have been placed in ev-ery school so all children, not just those on thecouncil, can submit suggestions that are readin city council meetings. Children, for instance,suggested that bike trails be built and gymna-siums be fixed. The city has acted on both re-quests.In all, the city has spent more than 5 millionEuros on various child-friendly projects duringthe past five years, according to Mayor Risteski.That has included the renovation of almost allof the city’s schools, which have been repaintedwith pastel colors to brighten the mood of stu-dents.The mayor appears to have taken to heart UNI-CEF’s message that investing in children is notjust good for children, but society at large.“With young educated citizens, the municipalitywill grow much faster, the mayor said. “It pays ”off in the long term. ” There are now 11 municipalities that are part of the “child-friendly municipalities” Initiative. Children playing in Prilep 35
  36. MONITORING CHILD RIGHTS E ven the most ambitious strategies and estimates of a range of indicators. The find- programmes are of little value if they ings have been used extensively as a basis for are not based on strong evidence. Fur- policy decisions and programme interventions, thermore, if programmes are not monitored for the purpose of influencing public opinion and evaluated, there is no way of determining a major source of data for monitoring national whether they have met the original objectives.. and international development goals and com- mitments for children. That’s why UNICEF is helping to develop ac- curate, reliable and disaggregated data and In a country like this one where overall national building the capacity of different groups to un- statistics show relatively positive aggregate derstand how to use this information to moni- outcomes for children, through providing data tor their own action plans and the situation of disaggregated by ethnicity, wealth quintiles, children in the country. and many more categories, the data from MICS has helped to understand and shape pro- Working with the State Statistical Office and grammes to reach the most vulnerable. This other local research institutions, UNICEF is is a key part of UNICEF’s equity based pro- supporting data collection on living standards, gramme approach. health, early childhood development, educa- tion, protection from abuse, violence and many UNICEF is also helping civil society organisa- other categories. tions and government child rights commis- sions better understand how to use data on The Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) children. One element of this work has been is just one example of a household survey that support to non-governmental organisations has enabled the country to produce statisti- that focus on children to help them expand cally sound and internationally comparable their capacity to do their jobs. Part of that36 Working Towards Equity for Children
  37. includes increasing their ability to collect and reportrelevant statistics, as well share those statistics withother potential allies.UNICEF also works with these groups to develop therigorous skills needed to some degree take on the roleof unofficial ombudsman capable of constructivelyanalyzing government policies. In 2010, UNICEF helpeda group of non-governmental organizations preparea shadow report to the United Nation’s Committee onChild Rights that acted as a counterweight to the gov-ernment’s report on the progress made in protectingchildren in this country.“The NGOs submitted a shadow report which is inde-pendent to the governments report, said Zoran Sto- ”janov, UNICEF monitoring and evaluation officer. “In away it is used to add another voice to the official per-spectives of the government and to provide a differentperspective on how to address the challenges in thecountry.” UNICEF is also helping civil society organisations and government child rights commissions better understand how to use data on children. Young child in Bitola 37
  38. 5.1 Strengthening the Role of NGOs in Monitoring Child Rights T he monitoring of children’s rights and the government’s efforts to protect Three training sessions were organised can be done in many ways and and promote them. Non-governmental by the NGO with support from UNICEF by many people, including the organizations in this country support- and the EU on CRC reporting require- government, non-governmental orga- ing child rights have sometimes argued ments, procedures and mechanism. nizations and others in civil society. their cases armed more with passion “In the beginning, we were afraid to One of the more creative and effec- than with accurate data. So UNICEF say this or that, said Tatjana Janevska, ” tive methods, though, is for children to supported their efforts to compile the programme coordinator from Megjashi. participate in the monitoring. Not only shadow report based on hard facts and But through UNICEF “we managed to , are they more willing to speak freely to to prepare a lucid presentation that ensure our report was evidence-based each other, but the children doing the would make the most convincing case and that our recommendations are con- monitoring will learn more about their to the Committee in Geneva. crete, not speculation. ” rights and develop critical skills, includ- ing how to survey and inform others It was an arduous but rewarding pro- With the aim of promoting child partici- and practice being an active citizen. cess, said Zoran Stojanov, the UNICEF pation, children in the NGOs surveyed monitoring and evaluation officer in another 2,300 peers in 16 municipalities That was the thinking behind having charge of the project. on child rights. Over a four-month peri- children play a key role in the creation od they turned the findings into a report of the alternative, or shadow, report on “It’s not a one-off activity, but the be- from the children’s viewpoint. the status of child rights in the country. ginning of a programme to strengthen The research for the report was con- the role of civil society in monitoring, For the first time, children in the country ducted in 2009 by an alliance of seven reporting and advocating for children’s elected two 17-year girls from Tetevo NGOs and presented to the United Na- rights, he said. ” and Strumica to go to Geneva to pres- tion’s Committee on the Rights of the ent the report, voice their concerns and Child in Geneva in February 2010. The Megjashi, as one of the oldest and most interact with Committee members. findings provided an independent as- established child rights NGOs in the sessment of the state of children’s rights country, took the lead in the alliance.38 Working Towards Equity for Children
  39. For some children, the process of compilingthe report was, in some ways, as important asthe results. At Majka, or Mother, a youth clubfor teenagers in Kumanovo, about 20 childrenhelped compile their portion of the shadowreport. The children interviewed other childrenin 14 schools in the area and added additionalresearch.Some students said the findings of their re-search were eye-opening.The club members embraced the project be-cause the questions they asked of others wereoften directly related to their own backgrounds,income levels, ethnic groups and so on, saidMargarita Avramovska, a teacher who helps runMajka. UNICEF is also helping civil society organisations and government child rights commissions bet- ter understand how to use data on children. Young child in Bitola 39