JANUARY 22. 2021.
WESTERN BALKANS: CASE OF NORTH MACEDONIA
The representative of the Young Cultural Center of Bitola Mr Zlatko Talevski and Representative of the Council for Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency Mr Petre Mrkev have published a research paper on the volunteering infrastructure in Europe, the study case of North Macedonia.
WESTERN BALKANS – After the fall of communism in the Western Balkans, the citizens faced several stages of emigration of young people towards the EU member states, the United Kingdom or the United States of America. It was quite difficult to revitalize what left and offer communities and stakeholders better opportunities and services.
In times of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of communities and community work, humanitarian or volunteer work is needed more than ever. This situation brought us closer as a region, helped us understand that we need the support of each other in difficult times, helped us realize that we are so similar. The representative of the Young Cultural Center of Bitola Mr Zlatko Talevski and Representative of the Council for Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency Mr Petre Mrkev have published a research paper on the volunteering infrastructure in Europe, the study case of North Macedonia.
Some of the main findings of this publication are:
- 32.1% of North Macedonia’s population is engaged in volunteering, while 46% of the population is a member of at least one organization.
- About 56% of North Macedonia’s volunteers are estimated to be male, 45% have obtained a higher education degree and only 4% are above 50 years.
- Volunteering is not systematically present in the media: the lack of sensationalism, the fact that volunteering depicts an average, positive story usually makes it a less marketable theme.
In 2020, the new law on youth participation and youth policies was adopted that regulates among other things establishment of local municipal youth centers that will mostly rely on volunteer engagement of young people. The target is that every municipality in North Macedonia (80 in total) have functional youth center operating in partnership with local CSO’s and supported with local funds by municipalities by the end of 2021. This will also provide opportunities for the development of volunteering programs and youth work in communities and the possibility for engagement of a large number of volunteers at the local level.
Even though some criteria have been met, there is still a lot of work to be done in North Macedonia but also across the region. In North Macedonia, these are the authors’ recommendations which are also relevant for RYCO’s ROUTE WB6 project and its implementation in the region:
- To propose and adopt the new National strategy for the development of volunteering 2021-2025 with the allocation of funds that will be led and administered by the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy.
- To reinforce the role and scope of work of the National Council for promotion and development of volunteering by incorporating their rights and responsibilities in the basic Law on volunteering.
- To facilitate the registration process of foreign volunteers and to decrease the time needed for administrative procedures. In addition, the registration of foreign volunteers that are participating in international partnership programs partly financed by the public funds (European Solidarity Corps by Erasmus+ program, US Peace Corps and upcoming Regional Western Balkans volunteer exchange program (ROUTE WB6) led by RYCO) to be automatic.
- To initiate the inclusive process of the self-regulating mechanism proposed and adopted by CSOs to secure minimum standards for quality volunteer management – Ethical Codex for working with volunteers.
- To digitalize national volunteer book in order to increase its availability and practical use.
- To propose a systematic solution for the adoption of tax incentives for companies that will finance and support volunteering programs and actions of CSOs.
- Establishing close cooperation with the media for the promotion of volunteer activities to the wider community and among citizens.
On ROUTE WB6
The ROUTE WB6 project is implemented across the Western Balkans 6 by a consortium led by Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) in association with the following organizations from WB6 – Beyond Barriers, South East European Youth Network, Institute for Youth Development KULT, Lens, Youth Cultural Center Bitola, Association for Democratic Prosperity Zid and Young Researchers of Serbia. The project activities have started on 1 January 2019 and will end in December 2021.
The overall objective of Route WB6 project is to make young people from WB region drivers of reconciliation and societal reconstruction, enabling them to apply European values, initiate and lead intercultural dialogue and regional cooperation towards socio-economic and democratic development.