Generation Unlimited (GenU) is a global multi-sector partnership created to meet the urgent need for expanded education, skill development and employment opportunities for young people aged 10-24. By bridging secondary-age education and training to employment and entrepreneurship, GenU will support every young person to thrive in the world of work and become productive problem solvers and engaged members of society.
The Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge calls on young innovators to design solutions to improve education, employment and civic engagement. It aims to inspire young people with brilliant ideas, but without the resources to bring them to life. This includes young refugees, those who face daily discrimination due to their ethnicity, their gender or their disability and those who are disadvantaged by poverty.
In 2018, around half a million young people from 16 countries participated in the Youth Challenge movement.
This year we are yet again joining this challenge, now spanning across 40 countries and inviting young local innovators and shapers to help us solve real, tangible societal challenges.
The challenge in North Macedonia
“In North Macedonia, the total number of children with disabilities enrolled in schools is just 0.5% of the total number of students. “
“There are between 93 and 150 million children with disabilities around the world. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that in many countries “living with a disability doubles a child’s chances of never enrolling in any type of educational institution or program”. “
These facts and many more lead to this year’s Generation Unlimited – Youth Challenge “Digital Inclusion” invited the youth around the country, between the ages of 14 and 24, to form a team of 3 to 5 members to be leading voice in the co-creation of solutions to answer the question:
“How can digital technology contribute to the inclusion of children and youth with disabilities in education and in everyday life?”
The UNICEF CO in partnership with Foundation Telekom for Macedonia successfully collaborated with SmartUp, as an implementing partner of the Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge 2019/2020 and launched the open call for applications on October 10th, 2019.
The challenge was locally supported by the Scout Association of Macedonia.
Since then, the project was delivered with very high impact and satisfactory results. Throughout the challenge, we managed to successfully realize the following activities:
A 3-day workshop – Bootcamp for co-creation of innovative solutions where ideas were transformed into viable prototypes with the help of the mentors of the challenge (both from the business and tech sector)
2 pre-workshops focused on delivering the proper tools and knowledge (Design Thinking method) to the selected participants
2 informative sessions with youth that expressed interest to take part (2 consecutive Info Days)
5 finalist teams which provided diverse, feasible solutions which are currently being worked on in an incubation phase to test their ideas in the time-span between 08.01.2020 and 08.04.2020, under the guidance of a dedicated mentor and with 1000 USD support seed funding
2 successful informative sessions hosted by 1 facilitator and 2 guest speakers from different backgrounds (special education, inclusion, and assistive technology experts)
2 consecutive pre-workshops held by 1 facilitator and executed by 5 mentors who taught the design thinking process, working norms, and values to the selected participants
3-day Bootcamp, a design thinking workshop, supported by over 20 mentors and structured around specific problems, developing and prototyping, closing the event with a pitching session and the selection of the top 5 solutions with the most potential for future impact
Raising awareness about project values and goals through an outreach phase which reached 678 young people nationwide
2 weeks of active field research by the teams where they reached out to a number of organizations and institutions working with people and youth with disabilities.
Furthermore, you can grasp a better understanding of the energy and potential of the teams via this video showcasing some of the 5 local winners and their solutions.
After their intended incubation period, the 5 teams will present their progress at the Generation Unlimited – Showcase Event on the 16th of April, 2020 where they will be competing to be selected among the two teams that will represent North Macedonia on the global competition throughout 2020.
However, as a final reminder of why these teams are doing this work, stands a statement of one of the participants on the event – “For us it’s not whether we win or not but it’s about the possibility to create a tool or a product that will impact and help the lives of people with disability in our country”.