detail - Auslandsbüro Serbien / Montenegro
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The first Education policy seminar lasted for four days (November 30- December 2 2012) and gathered representatives from six political parties, three of which are in the ruling coalition on national level: Serbian Progressive Party, United Regions of Serbia, Socialist Party of Serbia, Democratic Party, League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina and Liberal Democratic Party. On that occasion participants received trainings on policy development, evidence based policy making, as well as the sessions on current situation in the field of education and reforms. Key speakers were professionals from public institutions, Universities and NGO’s.
Participants were tasked to define one problem from the education sphere for which they will, in their party group, produce the policy paper till September 2013. After this introductory seminar, participants continued with single party consultations on defining problems and objectives of their policies with their mentors.
NDI approached Konrad-Adeanuer-Foundation (KAS) for cooperation and partnership in the phase of singly party work, particularly the work connected with KAS party partners - Serbian Progressive Party and United Regions of Serbia.
KAS and NDI decided to co-organize some of the events for participants from Serbian Progressive Party and United Regions of Serbia and in that way contribute to the ca-pacity building. The first event was two day long training on March 9 and 10 for total 10 participants (8 participants from Serbian Progressive Party and 2 participants from United Regions of Serbia). The topics covered were “Mechanisms of Citizens’ Participation in Decision Making Process”, conducted by expert Jelena Markovic from the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit, and “Political Message Development”, conducted by Milos Milovanovic, NDI trainer. Also participants had single party consultations on policy papers they are drafting with their mentor Jelena Markovic.
“Life-long Learning Possibilities for People with Disabilities” is the working title of the policy paper that SNS is drafting, while URS is writing about “Introduction of New Subjects from the Field of Entrepreneurship in High School Curriculum”.
Participants are members of the Committees of Education within their respective parties, or/and teachers and professors in schools. They are coming from six different municipalities (Beograd, Kikinda, Sombor, Paracin, Pozega, Valjevo). Meanwhile, one of the participants from SNS, Ljubisa Antonijevic, became Assistant to the minister of Education, Science and Technological Development. All of them are very dedicated to the program, and were chosen among many applicants from their parties.
The main goal of the seminar was to gain greater understanding of citizens’ participation in political processes. On the first day of training, Jelena Markovic, delivered a session on the role of citizens and civil sector in democratic processes and society and their influence on transparency and accountability of the work of institutions. She discussed with participants the trust between citizens and authorities and explored possibilities for citizens higher participation. Participants learned about main steps in decision making process, how to use the expertise and data that CSO’s (Office for Cooperation with Civil Society) can provide, what are mechanisms and levels of citizens’ participation (such are informing, dialogue, consultations and partnership). Ms Markovic reminded attendees that participation is one of the basic human rights and that it is crucial for development of democratic society. One part of the session was dedicated to domestic and EU legislative and strategic framework for citizens’ participation.
During the course of seminar participants discussed the low participation of citizens of Serbia in political process and the fact the voting on Election Day is the most spread activity and that usually political participation stays on that level. Participants also noticed that there is no established practice in political parties to get citizens’ input when deciding about important issues, as well as input from wider membership. One of the conclusions was that parties should actively engage civil society organizations in decision making and policy development.
On the second day, NDI trainer Milos Milovanovic, held training on political message development. Through group workshops and concrete examples from USA and presidential elections, party members received knowledge on what is sound political message, what are the main parts of message and how to present message to the public. Participants were divided in four groups in order to write the message related to the policy problems they are dealing with.
One of the goals of the seminar was also to assist to participants in analyzing selected policy problems and to provide participants with guidance for further research.
Participants concluded that this seminar was very useful, especially for those who have never had opportunity learn about political communication. They will use this knowledge to obtain more information from the citizens and CSOs in order to better inform their policy papers, but also in promotion and implementation of prospective solutions.