Dialogue on fundamental human rights

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Last Friday, November 13, 2020, an online conference on fundamental human rights was held, organized by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. Around 150 people were allowed to participate freely, who were able to address issues, which have an impact directly on their daily lives.

The person on the Agency’s side who was giving answers to the questions was Michael O’Flaherty, its director.

The main points of reference for this conference were the following:

  • Lack of equipment and internet to have equal access to education – COVID-19 forced educational systems in Europe to adopt online methods of education – online classrooms, assignments, and homework. This resulted in a problem because each student needs to have access to the Internet or a device that is suitable for attending online classes, which is almost impossible. The differences between the social groups is felt and seen much more due to inequality in terms of financial opportunity to have the needed equipment and environment for online learning. The main point of reference was the need for a fair education that meets the interests of all students.
  • The topic of decision-making was a focus on the conference. To be more accurate – the decision-makers should include the group for which they are talking about in the conversation, so the decisions which are taken afterward are needed and precise. Young people and government coming together – this is an approach based on young people’s rights and equality, continuity. By using research, the essence of a given affected group can be extracted so that those who are stakeholders can resolve the issues in the best way possible.
  • Another problem that was presented by the participants was fake news and lack of transparency in the dissemination of information. Digital literacy has been raised as a key to stopping hate speech online – a public need and a fundamental right (distinguishing fake from real and quality news).
  • The LGBTIQ + community was also widely discussed, as it is very often discriminated against and excluded from various normative acts and rights, which are otherwise a standard for equality and democracy in heterosexual entities. Example: the possibility of same-sex marriage, which automatically excludes inheritance after a sudden death, where the partner is not mentioned in the will or that 1 child has 2 parents with the same gender, and etc. The best solution to this problem is ​​introducing a class in the school related to different sexual orientations so that everyone who is not heterosexual is perceived as the plane of others and as a normal part of society, not as a problem. The younger a person is, the more tolerant he is to the differences. Hatred builds up over time, and the main role has the environment in which one develops.
  • From this, we continue to the next problem, which is structural racism. Here we are talking about religion, skin color, and etc. Representatives of Muslim society shared their experience in the presence of racism when wearing a burqa. They shared that it often happens that they do not want to leave their home because they are being laughed at or because other people avoid them. The examples were from Austria, but there are many other countries in the European Union where the same phenomenon can be observed. We need to recognize racism in us and get rid of it – this is the first step (the personal one). Society is a problem – you do it with people (the object of racism), not for people.
  • Fighting antagonism – The EU must stop building walls, it must start listening to the voices of young people.
  • For many women – home is not a safe place – increase in domestic violence, 1 in 3 women victims – Be it at home or other forms of violence
  • Another important thing in the discussion was for the EU to ban unpaid internships and introduce a minimum wage threshold for interns. The problem with unpaid traineeships comes from the fact that people with little financial support want to seek and gain experience, it is not possible to go to unpaid traineeships, as this often means that they have to live in a new place and do not have the minimum profit to cover the cost of living. In the modern world, the private sector wants the candidate fo to have previous experience in the field of work, but this is nearly impossible if you do not attend somewhere as a trainee/intern.

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European values for the future for SEE region

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The pandemic made 2020, the year in which forced many people to sit at home, it was a short end of the hectic daily life, whole cities were left desolate. Some businesses closed, others moved to work from home, and others were on the front lines.

This gave people the opportunity to look at their everyday life and ask themselves what they can do better and how they can get out of the situation. Innovative methods have been invented to keep people socially connected like online discos, transparent masks, shaking hands, which is actually touching the elbow and others in order not to completely lose connection, which is part of nonverbal communication – after all, the man is a social individual and this favors his existence.

This being said, the emphasis was on online events, training, and meetings through platforms such as Google meet & Zoom, which made communication easier. In the past few days, from November 5 to 10, an International Youth Conference was held for the 18th consecutive year, with the working title “European values for the future for SEE region”.

The conference, although online, managed to unite the participants, and all the time they interacted with each other, actively asking questions. The online environment did not stop the people commit to the process, in reality, the opposite happened – they were even more motivated. This proved that when you do something that is important to you and you believe in the idea that you are the key to the improvement of the environment, physical distance does not matter.

The event focussed on topics, which are in favor of young people – education, the effects of the virus – to the economy and to the society, mental health and health care, racism and discrimination, fundamental human rights and EU values, cross-border cooperation, sustainability, and green economy, youth participation and last but not least employment and living standards.

Discussions revealed common problems that participants found to be valid in most of the countries. For this reason, the working groups, which were organized on days 4 and 5 from the conference, developed recommendations for dealing with each of them.

You can find the conference file attached to this article –
Final-document-English
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Youth spaces: Hub-a

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What is Hub- a?

One of the meanings of the name “Hub-a” is a central part of a wheel, rotating on or with the axis in which its spokes are connected. Simply put, a hub is called the center of a round object. What a short name, and with so much symbolism.

The initiative to create the only open space of its kind in the town of Samokov, called “Hub-a“, was taken by Georgi Nikolov and began as a concept for creating a space that accumulates ideas. This youth space should be the Center of intersections and interests of youth views and creativity. A space in which all young people, with an alternative to the general status quo thinking, can form their realities and create their own artifacts.

How does this space contribute to the development of the local community?

The presence of such a place is of great importance for both small and large communities. This is a prerequisite for building communities and modern society, allowing young people to participate in events and initiatives at the local level, to create and organize such, to spend their free time in a meaningful way, to realize their ideas, to be active citizens, and sometimes they can be involved in local government decisions on youth policies. At the same time, building such spaces is a kind of social entrepreneurship that can become a sustainable model that creates social change, deepens young people’s understanding of the world around them, and inspires them to create a vision of how passion and their desire for realization correspond to self-employment.

How does this youth space work?

Hub-a started by cooperating with local institutions and organizing joint initiatives with them in favor of enriching the lives of youth communities through culture and art and creating equal opportunities for youth participation in festivals, urban development, media formats, social, educational, environmental, sports, and charitable initiatives.

The atmosphere of the place is casual and friendly, open to all, both young people and youth workers, supporting their planned activities. According to the symbolism of the wheel, in “Hub-a” everything moves, changes, and adapts according to the respective needs. Multifunctional design is an essential part of creating an “open” space in the physical aspect, and the movement in it – its existence.

The cultural calendar of the “Hub” includes events of various kinds and provides an opportunity for young people from the “small town” to feel equal with the event opportunities of the “big city”. Guests of the “Hub” are famous musicians and groups, contemporary artists, athletes, entrepreneurs, vloggers, experts in various fields.

What makes this place unique compared to other youth spaces in the country?

The “Hub-a” also hosts а YouTube channel for alternative professions and music “Groovy office“, which is a kind of synthesis of its activities, uniting in a video material the cultural messages to the public. The process of filming is long and provides an opportunity for the inclusion of young people who want to develop their technical competencies in the field of cinema and sound. “Groovy office” is already a recognizable format at national level, over time it is gaining more and more popularity and fans and leaves in time the meaning and appeal to young people – to follow their ideas and bring them to life.

And for young people who are open to engaging in open spaces, the benefits of this activity are again very spectral. They have to develop their competencies, communication, and organizational skills, to actively participate in social processes and phenomena, to communicate with different cultures and subcultures, to strengthen creative values, to develop their ability to interact with authorities and institutions, and the ability to influence the local reality.

And what is the normative mechanism through which to realize open youth spaces?

One of the most appropriate ways is by establishing or cooperating with a non-governmental organization – an NGO. At present, the spheres of activity of non-governmental organizations cover a wide range of social development – ecology and environmental protection, health care, social, economic, and educational activities, development of culture and arts. NGOs represent the interests of citizens in relation to local policies. They are key to identifying local needs. That is why the achievement of sustainable cooperation between NGOs and local authorities, the organization of joint initiatives is for the benefit of citizens and leads to the solution of issues of importance for the community.
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School student participation

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 School student participation – What is it?

  • School student participation is any form of participation and event organizing by students, most often at school. It is implemented through student structures, and in Bulgaria, they are formally divided into 4 groups.
  • The forms of school student participation in Bulgaria are at several levels: Class- (A, B, C and etc.), Class – (5th, 6th, 7th and etc.), School and National – The Children’s Council (an advisory body to the President of the SACP)

Why does it make sense to participate in student councils and structures?

  • It is very simple, with the freedom to organize and focus independently on problems from their surrounding in school lives, students develop their social skills, teamwork, leadership skills, and most importantly – personal responsibility.
  • It gives them the opportunity to be recognized as an active and driving part of the educational process and system. This leads to an awareness of the principles and rules in their small society and keeps them awake to the changes that directly affect them. As a major stakeholder in the decision-making processes, this makes them objective and encourages them to make their environment better, not worse.
  • Student participation stimulates students’ self-initiative. It makes them flexible and ready for life after school – they know the mechanisms for participation. This is what allows them to be “decision-makers” in a certain school community.

What opportunities and responsibilities does participation in a student council provide?

  • By law, the representatives in the student council have the right to an advisory vote in the work of the public council of the schools. – Chapter 14 “Public Councils”, Art. 267
  • They can participate in the discussion in resolving issues affecting school life and the school community, including the school curriculum. – Section 1, Article 171,  subparagraph 11
  • Makes proposals to the principal and the pedagogical council regarding the ways of using the rights of the students;
  • Motivates students to actively participate in the decision-making process concerning school life and the student community;
  • Participates in the development of school rules;
  • Mediates in solving problems related to the timetable and course of the learning process or extracurricular activities;
  • Supports the activities/events of all 3 levels of school structures;
  • Works on projects with other students, teachers, school educational authority, and parents

Are there any regulations for student councils?

The short answer: Yes, there is!

  • You can find the legal framework in the Law on Preschool and School Education and Regulation № 13, dated 21.09.2016 on civic, health, environmental and intercultural education.

Why is it a first step?

  • When a student is actively involved in his school and wants to follow the example of his active and motivated friends, to develop his knowledge as a citizen and participant in voluntary non-formal and informal education – this is the first step towards self-driven decision to take responsibility, this is the first a step towards building him/her as a committed representative of society and an engine of change.

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Why is the Civic Education important?

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One of the main goals of the sMisal Foundation is the development of critical and analytical thinking in young people.

The first and main step is Civic Education and its varieties.

What is Civic Education?

This term has been used for a long time and widely, used by various communities and countries to describe the basic knowledge needed for full and active participation in the political, economic, and even legal process of people with institutions, statehood, and the environment. This term must first and foremost be implemented in the education system, which in turn must engage in proper teacher education and be translated into an easily digestible subject for pupils and students.

Each community prioritizes different knowledge according to its needs, for example – civic education is defined in an Eurydice report under the auspices of the EC as a means of avoiding and preventing the radicalization of young people.

Is there one in Bulgaria and what should be our priorities?

The short answer to the question is yes, there is.

There is a project that is to be implemented, focused on introducing students from 11-12 grades to new concepts, rights, and obligations. This project has recently been updated to include economic terminology that goes through the state budget, labor, and social processes in the EU, the nature of the market economy and its functions, and other important knowledge.

All this is necessary, but we believe that key aspects and priorities are missing, such as personal financial responsibility, the tax system, the pension system, political systems and ideologies, contracts, the media (social and traditional), and freedom of speech, and others. Given the volume of the project, even without adding our suggestions – all these things will be indirectly affected by the allocated 31 teaching hours per year.

Why do we need it?

Creating basic legal, political and economic literacy provides the basis for a strong and educated Civil Society that knows how, when and why national and global processes take place and strives to be an active participant and work for improvements not only for itself, and for the community.

The more a person is involved in the social processes, the more he is engaged and aware of his rights and those of his friends, neighbors, compatriots and removes the paralyzing apathy of conformism.
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Founders

[av_team_member name=’Nikol Parvanova’ job=’President’ src=’https://smisal.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/никол2-287×300.png’ attachment=’141′ attachment_size=’medium’ image_width=’av-team-img-original’ description=’Nikol is 22 years old, a student at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, Faculty of Law, studying Law.

In 2015 she got to know the non-governmental sector with the organization GLOW leadership academy, and then with ABLE mentor where he focused on organizing a donation campaign for the Crisis Center “Faith, Hope, and Love”.

Since 2015 she has been a volunteer at the National Patient Organization – first on the prevention and control of HIV / AIDS among young people aged 14 to 18, then on the project “Vaksinko” – info campaign on the importance of vaccines.

In 2016 she took part in the European Youth Parliament as Bulgaria’s representative in Manchester. In the same year, she became a member of the Sofia Student Council and was elected for General Secretary with a term of 1 year.

In 2017 she was in the National Youth Academy of the National Youth Forum – NYF became an ambassador of the Structured Dialogue – with the current working title “EU Youth Dialogue”. She was a representative of Bulgaria at the conference in Bucharest 2019 and during the Bulgarian presidency in 2018.

Since 2017 she has been part of the Foundation “International Award of the Duke of Edinburgh – Bulgaria” with a completed level of Bronze, and from 2020 of Silver.

In 2017 she was elected for the Board of NYF until 2019. The first year she was responsible for the priority “Civil Activism”. In the second year, her priority was Youth Rights.

2021 Nikol was elected for the Advisory Council on Youth part of the Council of Europe.’ font_color=” custom_title=” custom_content=” av_uid=’av-kf1fzm16′ admin_preview_bg=”][/av_team_member]

[av_team_member name=’Hristina DImitrova’ job=’Co-founder’ src=’https://smisal.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/72601311_1722459087886523_619128976056516608_o-300×300.jpg’ attachment=’163′ attachment_size=’medium’ image_width=’av-team-img-original’ description=’Hristina is 26 years old, a Ph.D. student in political science at the University of National and World Economy. She graduated with a bachelor‘s degree in Political Science in German and a major in Political Science with English. She has a master’s degree in Applied Political Science.

She has over 12 years of experience in the NGO sector, student organizations, and working in the field of youth policies. For over 8 years she was a volunteer in the Bulgarian Red Cross. Her role in the organizations was to promote the humanitarian values among children and young people. She has been active in “Introduction to Humanitarian Law” and “First Aid and Psychosocial Support”. Along with that, she has years of experience in working with children with special and educational needs.

Member of the Student Council term 2016 – 2018 at the University of National and World Economy. Chairman of the NGO “EGO POLITICO” term 2016 and 2017. Deputy Chairman of the Youth Association of Political Science since 2017.’ font_color=” custom_title=” custom_content=” av_uid=’av-kf1g0d1n’ admin_preview_bg=”][/av_team_member]

[av_team_member name=’Kristiyan Hristov’ job=’Co-founder’ src=’https://smisal.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/77141503_10213182802285131_2472995302353666048_o-2-300×300.jpg’ attachment=’175′ attachment_size=’medium’ image_width=’av-team-img-original’ description=’Kristiyan is 26 years old and graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of National and World Economy – UNWE, in Political Science in English and French.

He has been involved in civic education for 6 years, participating in various campaigns to promote an active civil society and increase civic culture.

From February 2015 – February 2017 he was elected Deputy Chairman of the Student Association “EGO POLITICO”. From June 2016 – June 2018 he is a member of the Faculty Council at the Faculty of International Economics and Politics, UNWE.

From June 2017 – December 2018 he was elected a representative of the Department of Political Science in the Student Council at the University of National and World Economy.

Member of the board of the Youth Association for Political Science. He actively participated in the team for the formation of the Advisory Council on Youth Affairs at Sofia Municipality. is 26 years old and graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of National and World Economy – UNWE, in Political Science in English and French.

He has been involved in civic education for 6 years, participating in various campaigns to promote an active civil society and increase civic culture.

From February 2015 – February 2017 he was elected Deputy Chairman of the Student Association “EGO POLITICO”. From June 2016 – June 2018 he is a member of the Faculty Council at the Faculty of International Economics and Politics, UNWE.

From June 2017 – December 2018 he was elected a representative of the Department of Political Science in the Student Council at the University of National and World Economy.

Member of the board of the Youth Association for Political Science. He actively participated in the team for the formation of the Advisory Council on Youth Affairs at Sofia Municipality.’ font_color=” custom_title=” custom_content=” av_uid=’av-kf1g1bcg’ admin_preview_bg=”][/av_team_member]

Foundation “sMisal”

This is a non-profit organization, which carries out its activities for public benefit, to encourage and support the personal realization and social integration of every young person between 18 and 35 years in the Republic of Bulgaria. It will work to optimize and support youth policies on the European, national, and local levels.

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