“Let My Voice Be Heard in the Adult World” – Children’s Rights Champions to Teach Communication Skills to Peers

Girls and boys from 10 primary schools in BiH have attended a two-day workshop organized by UNICEF and “Infohouse” Association. The workshop is titled “Let My Voice Be Heard in the Adult World”. Attendees have learned about developing communication, debate and presentation skills. The workshop has been delivered within the joint EU and UNICEF project “Enhancing the Social Protection and Inclusion System for Children in BiH”. The goal of this Project is to facilitate the establishment of a system which will provide adequate social protection policy and social protection and inclusion for children and their families.

“I would like to thank the children who have responded to the invitation, school principals who have made possible for you all to be here today and the EU whose support made all this happen. I am confident that after this workshop you will become children’s rights champions in your respective communities and that you will continue to share with your friends and peers communication skills and all that you will have learned here”, said Ms. Anne-Claire Duffay, deputy UNICEF Representative in BiH at the opening of the workshop. 

The workshop used effective and age-appropriate techniques such as conversation and interactive games to teach children the basics of verbal and non-verbal communication required for getting their message across in a successfully conducted communication. The fact that after the first day of the workshop some of the attendees had public appearances in the media speaks to just how well they achieved. Marko Dujaković of “Miloš Dujić” primary school in Čelinac appeared as a guest at the morning show of the Cantonal Television Sarajevo, while his friend Sara Vučić of the same school made a statement to BH Radio 1.

“I immediately applied a lot of what I have learned here. I did not have the jitters, I was confident and I believe that I have informed the viewers of the impressions from the workshop in the best way possible”, said eloquent Marko upon his return from the TV studio. Sara said she had had no stage fright, because she knew what she wanted to say and the workshop provided her with additional skills of expressing her thoughts articulately. 

“Knowledge acquired at the workshop has helped me a lot here. I got my message across clearly. When I return to school, I have every intention of talking to my friends about what I have learned at the workshop. I will do my best to share as much knowledge as I can with them”, says Sara. 

Other attendees of the workshop are also satisfied. Their opinions were very clear: 

“We, the children, should say out loud what we like and what we want to see changed. If we only stand aside, afraid of our own shadow, we will not achieve anything!” says Milica Klarić of “Sveti Sava” primary school in Gacko. Her friend, Hasib Zukić of “Gornji Vakuf” primary school adds that children should be persistent in the fight for their rights, know what they want and how to formulate that. Vidanka and Amel of “Branko Ćopić” primary school from Prnjavor, Lucija of “Ivana Mažuranića” primary school from Posušje, Momčilo of “Ivan Goran Kovačić” primary school from Mrkonjić Grad, Mirza of “Huso Hodžić” primary school from Tešanj have all expressed similar opinions.

Trainers from Civic Association “Infohouse”, Ms. Dženana Alađuz and Mr. Bojan Pavlović have also been very excited about their trainees who have responded to the training excellently and, what was most important, applied their knowledge immediately in real-life situations. 

“The children have been wonderful! If they could be candidates at the elections, I would vote for them all without a second thought!” says Dženana Alađuz.

Very soon, children will be able to apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills at debates that will be organized in September and October in 11 towns throughout BiH as a part of youth activities in pre-election time. They are expected to appear as young moderators in the debates with adults – teachers, government representatives, candidates at the local elections and media representatives, discussing the role of the youth in the local communities and their expectations from government office holders.

“Enhancing the Social Protection and Inclusion System for Children in BiH” is a joint EU and UNICEF project. The European Union has been financing this Project since 2008 from Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) in the amount of 4.1 million Euros. The Project aims to facilitate the building of a system to provide adequate social protection policy and social protection and inclusion for children and their families. 

Target municipalities of the Phase III of the SPIS program (2011-2012) are  Čelinac, Derventa, Gacko, Gornji Vakuf/Uskoplje, Kupres, Mrkonjić Grad, Posušje, Prnjavor, Tešanj, Velika Kladuša and the Brčko District. “Enhancing the Social Protection and Inclusion System for Children in Bosnia and Herzegovina” is a multi-year, multi-donor program supporting the country’s pre-accession efforts in the field of social protection, social inclusion and child rights. The Program targets policy makers and professionals in charge of the social protection system reform, as well as vulnerable groups of children and families.