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Education top priority for UN youth delegate
13 Jan 2014 Roman Cuprik Politics & Society
EDUCATION is the root of almost every major problem in Slovakia from unemployment to racism, says Hana Skljarszka, a 23-year-old sociology student, who now serves as Slovakia’s United Nations Youth Delegate. During her stay at the UN she and some other youth delegates tried to implement theses about the protection of non-heterosexual young people, she said. The Slovak Spectator spoke with Skljarszka about her impressions from the UN, her agenda and her activities as a delegate.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): What does it mean to be the UN Youth Delegate?
However, most of the- time, the situation is hard for youth delegates because right after diplomats learn about their status they treat them with caution. Youth delegates aren’t regular diplomats and have various mandates. The mandate of Belgian or German youth delegates is different from the Slovak delegate’s mandate. However, some delegations were very enthusiastic about the cooperation with so many young people at the UN.
TSS: Could you describe your activities?
Even though youth delegates don’t have equal diplomatic power in cases where they are united and create an alliance, they can make great things happen. I can say that we had great success because I was in a small group together with several delegates, mostly from Germany, and we were fighting for LGBT rights, which is a big taboo at the UN.
We proposed that the resolution should contain some thoughts about sexual orientation and gender equality and that people should be protected in this area. At the beginning we thought that it would be a revolutionary idea and others would reject it very quickly. But some countries, especially from northern Europe and Latin America, liked it and pushed the proposal further.
Of course, the original wording of our proposal wasn’t accepted since it was too aggressive for the UN and they made it softer. It isn’t very specific, but at least there is an indication of LGBT rights in that resolution.
TSS: What are your impressions from the UN?
On the other hand, it is still true that people there are arguing about trivialities and don’t deal with the core of problems, but rather focus just on the surface so no one is offended. Diplomacy there is about the idea that we don’t want to argue but we want to reach consensus. It could be seen even during the discussion about LGBT rights, because some countries don’t accept homosexuality and it is considered a disease. Therefore talking about it was very difficult and the process of reaching a consensus can be frustrating.
TSS: What is your top priority as a youth delegate?
My idea about how education should look is based on several notions. First, every person has some form of intelligence. Some people see things visually, some through numbers and everyone uses their brain in a different way. Our education system doesn’t reflect this and produces uniform people with uniform information which doesn’t prepare us for the labour market. The current labour market demands flexible people and individual personalities are suppressed by our education system.
Therefore I think that change should start at schools, which should show us how to deal with information and various value scales. The world is so complex and people can’t see it when they follow just one repeatedly reproduced value. Our education system should show this to us.
TSS: What are your activities in Slovakia and how are you working to change the education system?
I wish that this mandate would be more respected, because otherwise it is a pointless function. I mean, one shouldn’t bear the title of Youth Delegate without being the voice of the youth, so people should know that this mandate exists and respect it. In the future, my successor should focus on being the opinion leader, not just a doll in the hands of someone else.
But one person can’t change anything. I can meet teachers and tell them what the problem is and that they shall not fear to face it. I can meet students and talk with them about it as well as ask them about their opinion and then encourage them to do something about it. I should be some sort of leader and encourage people to deal with problems we have here, because I can’t change anything on my own. Therefore, my plan for the next half year is to fight for the change in education in as many places as possible.
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