Slovenian National Children’s Parliament meets again in person after two years

Blog by Petra Zega from Slovenian Association of Friends of Youth

At the beginning of April, Slovenian Association of Friends of Youth (SAFY) organised the 32nd National Children's Parliament. It was held in the National Assembly in capital city Ljubljana.  After two unusual Covid years, we were happy to welcome 128 young participants and their 31 mentors in person. During the Covid years, the National Children's Parliaments were held online.

The National Children's Parliament is a very important event, especially for elementary school pupils from all regions of Slovenia. The event was attended by the President of the National Assembly (who hosted the event), the President of SAFY, the President of the Republic of Slovenia, a few members of the National Assembly, some ministers or their representatives, Slovenian ombudsman, and more. Unfortunately though, they were not able to stay on for the whole event, but only for the part of it. Children are listened to, but in a lesser extent actually heard. Child participation is not understood as an everyday practice. We are taking steps towards understanding children as equal in the conversation.

The main topic of this Children's Parliament was 'My Professional Future'. Children highlighted concerns about whether they will be employable, whether they will get the profession they will be educated for, or whether they will enjoy their profession. They want more practical knowledge in schools. There are several ways to the workforce: formal education and, more importantly, non-formal education. Young people do not believe that certain professions will ever be replaced by robots (e.g. teaching or health care), but a balance between humans and technology will have to be found.

At the end of the event, the children also chose a theme for next year, which is 'Mental Health of Children and Young People.'

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