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Promotion of the Three-Year Programme "21st Century Schools“

Skopje, March 12th, 2019

The three-year programme "21st Century Schools" was promoted today in Skopje. The underlying aim thereof is to contribute toward improvements in primary education in the Western Balkans and to provide pupils aged 10 - 15 with the opportunity to develop critical thinking, problem-solving and coding skills. The programme, made available with funds from the UK Government in the amount of 10 million pounds, anticipates 20 to 30 micro:bit devices (coding computers) to be delivered to all primary schools, which pupils would use to program during classes. 

As Eleonora Zaprova, Director of the British Council, said, the underlying aim of the programme is to provide pupils with the opportunity to use their coding skills in practice, with micro:bit coding devices. In addition to North Macedonia, implementation of the three-year programme is also launched today in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro. The programme would cover all primary schools in the region.

– The programme anticipates training for directors of all primary schools, whereby they would be introduced to the concept of critical thinking, problem-solving and programming, so they would be able to support and inspire teachers to integrate these skills in existing curricula. Moreover, trainings and support are also anticipated for around 2,000 primary school teachers, explained Zaprova.

She informed that the winners of today's competition would represent the country on the regional competition in Belgrade, to be held during the Western Balkans Digital Summit on April 5th and 6th.

The Minister of Education and Science, Arber Ademi, said that the idea of this programme is to prepare schools to be oriented and maximally focused on development of digital skills and computer literacy in children.

– This idea could only be attained by changes in teachers' approach and manner of instruction. Therefore, teachers would attend adequate trainings and introduce the use of a contemporary information and communication device - micro:bit, during their classes, not only for the subject Information Technologies, but also for all other subjects. This, in turn, would promote the development of critical thinking, innovation in problem-solving and creativity. These devices are not the latest novelty in the world. They are, however, a major novelty in our country, added Ademi.

The Minister of Information Society and Administration, Damjan Manchevski, noted that this project indicates that education is not only learning and hard work, but it is also entertaining. As he said, coding is not merely an IT skill, it is also a manner of thinking and applying logic. He also added that it is their duty to use the educational process in order to provide young people with the opportunity to actively participate in digital society.

– The digital agenda of the Western Balkan states focuses on the fundamental postulates necessary for development of digitalization, and improvement of digital skills is one of the four pillars of this agenda. Therefore, we as a state make major investment. We firmly believe that development of digital skills must be a regional commitment, and this project is aimed in that direction, said Manchevski.

Her Majesty's Ambassador to the Republic of North Macedonia, Rachel Galloway, noted that the labour market demands new skills that would be needed in the future. She said that those needs could be met by innovation, active learning, creativity, originality and initiative.

– Technology is a driving force that could support both pupils and teachers in education. The micro:bit is merely one tool. This minicomputer guides the minds of young people toward critical thinking, supports their decisions, teaches them that it is acceptable to make mistakes, because that is the manner to learn, said Galloway.

Prior to beginning of the event, primary school pupils in the country promoted their projects by use of the micro:bit.

Ministry of Information Society and Administration