Critical Thinking-Focused Education in Čair
Critical thinking is a key skill for youth in any civic education curriculum.
The municipality of Čair, North Macedonia lists the development of youth critical thinking skills as a key priority to respond to the influences of malign and extremist groups. As the most densely populated municipality in Europe and one of the oldest municipalities within the city of Skopje, Čair is experiencing radicalisation challenges that disproportionately affect young people.
To address this issue, Young Cities is supporting the municipality in organising “Inspirational Talks” in all its elementary schools for students in their final year of studies. Successful alumni will be invited to provide positive examples for career development.
In addition to this, Young Cities will contextualise educational material on digital citizenship, designed by the Institute for Strategic Studies, to train teachers on countering online harms that youth are facing in the community. This module will also include a contextualised guide for parents and carers to better understand and prevent online harms. Engaging with this range of stakeholders will create a valuable group of partners who are committed and able to create a safer virtual environment for their children.
Thinking Outside the Box
A typical saying in North Macedonia is that schools are a second home for young people. However, despite being such a pivotal institution for youth, schools in Čair do not offer any extracurricular activities in the regular educational curriculum. Moreover, educational programmes have not been updated to incorporate a critical thinking learning approach and reflect changes in digitalization and online harms affecting young people. The necessity to address these challenges was reflected in the Youth Resilience study, city consultations, and youth focus group interviews, which provided insight into the experiences of youth regarding the online harms they face and navigate on a daily basis.
Continuing the Conversation and Reshaping the Curriculum
Young Cities has created a strong partnership with the Community Action Team (CAT) in Čair and will continue to support the multidisciplinary government body in engaging youth from schools in the municipality. The trained teachers will transfer the knowledge they gained, to their students, while the school will continue working with the CAT and Young Cities to create innovative ways to build youth resilience.
This Young Cities project is fully in line with Čair’s Local PVE Action Plan, which concretely outlines its priority to empower youth and increase their resilience against violent extremism. This project supports the Action Plan’s activities listed under “enhancing digital citizenship and critical thinking skills.”
To ensure the sustainability of the project, schools in Čair will continue to organise events based on the concept of the “Inspirational Talks” to expose students to positive influences from their local community. Moreover, the Online Harms educational programme will be incorporated into the existing Civil Citizenship curriculum, and parents will continue to be engaged on these topics through the Parent Guide.
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