Together young people say “No!” to Online Extremism and Radicalization

The first workshop to empower youth online communities to counter-radicalization, by building competencies and skills and by equipping young people with tools and knowledge took place on 30 to 31 March 2019 in Bitola, North Macedonia.

UNESCO is supporting the Interactive Education and Resource Network (IMOR) to address the issue of violent extremism in Albania and North Macedonia, including by developing training materials on media and information literacy. The materials, based on UNESCO’s resources, aim to strengthen awareness among young people on issues of online violent extremism and radicalisation; empower young people to share their own ideas, knowledge and experiences about online violent extremism and radicalisation and initiate thinking and activities to counter online violent extremism and radicalisation. 

The participants and educators from Bitola, Gostivar, Negotino, Prilep, Shtip, and Bistrica particularly benefitted from the practical guidelines in using the Internet and social media that were presented by Mr Toni Nakovski, digital security engineer. The training approach was unique, tailored for the purpose of this training and the target group. The participants improved their awareness about the enabling environment they should create in schools so that young people can reach their full potential in being part of the network of youth and educators from Macedonia and Albania that advocate for better media and information literacy schemes.

The workshop was opened by the Deputy-Mayor of Bitola, Ms. Emilija Kosturski, who expressed her satisfaction with the objectives and possible impact of the training.  Following this first pilot workshop, another workshop will be held in North Macedonia and two additional workshops will be held in Albania.  Good practices in implementing the training initiatives will be collected and compiled into policy recommendations related to youth, Internet and de-radicalization solutions.

A young beneficiary remarked that “the training increased our capacity for combating violent extremism and radicalisation in the online sphere by using tools that will help us to create positive content on Internet. “  One of the trainers, Ms Ivana Marinchek a psychologist, reiterated the importance of involving young people in such activities and collecting positive experiences from them to counter online violent extremism. 

UNESCO plays an active role to assist Member States in developing effective strategies to prevent violent extremism. The Information for All Programme (IFAP) has played a crucial role in initiating and facilitating policy dialogue on the issue of online radicalization leading to violent extremism. The project in Albania and North Macedonia is part of a series of pilot projects that will produce policy recommendations on the prevention of extremism and violent radicalization online.