Ensuring in a more inclusive society, by focusing on the education sector, has been the key theme of the event held in the primary school “Bozidar Vukovic Podgoricanin” in Podgorica today. The children have learned from experiences of the Paralympic Committee members, sportsmen and sportswomen who have achieved great results, how one can help build a society free from discrimination and hate speech, recognizing and respecting all forms of diversity, and even going one step further and considering them as an asset.
Today’s interactive workshop with children and the round table discussion are a part of the initiative of the European Union and the Council of Europe, “Block the Hatred. Share the Love!”. Filip Radovic, Olympic medalist for Montenegro in Tokyo, Marijana Goranovic and other campaign ambassadors have joined the event with other members from the Paralympic Committee.
Bojan Božović, State Secretary at the Ministry of Justice, Human and Minority Rights, stressed that protecting human rights is an important part of the state policy: “The state has the duty to create and implement policies, laws and other measures to protect and promote human rights and create an equal and tolerant society. That is why it is important that we all spread love, counter hate speech, and today’s ambassadors are a real example of that”, he said.
Snežana Mijušković, Deputy Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms of Montenegro, pointed out: “Every individual and the whole society are responsible for inclusion. Sport is one of the ways to use the potential of children, especially children with disabilities”.
Igor Tomić, President of the Paralympic Committee of Montenegro, partner organisation of the ”Block the hatred, share the love” campaign, stated: “Sport is a useful mean for including children. We can all be involved in sports, we do not need only top results. But love pushes boundaries! Our athletes, such as Filip and Marijana are our driving force, as well as that of a large number of children and families in Montenegro”.
Tamara Milic, Head of Unit for Inclusive Education at the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports, stressed the importance of discussing the principles of inclusion, roles and expectations, as well as the rights of children to inclusive education and the ways in which their educational needs are met.
Friederike Wuenschmann, Human Rights focal point in the European Union Delegation to Montenegro, stated that education is the key area. “By educating children from very early age to embody values of tolerance and equality, we are forging their and our future”, she said. “It is vital to teach and educate pupils not only to acknowledge diversity, but also to act upon full inclusion of all peers in the school environment. In this way, we can prevent stigmatisation and stereotyping, which leads to marginalisation and exclusion, and create inclusion and true tolerance”, she concluded.
Milos Boskovic, Senior Project Officer, Council of Europe Programme Office in Podgorica, expressed his gratitude for the engagement of the schools in the campaign. “Through our activities in the field of education and anti-discrimination, we aim at preventing and combating risks of marginalisation and exclusion, providing kids with ‘magic words’ as tools to fight hate. They’ll find out for themselves what these words are: respect, solidarity, inclusion”.
Aleksandra Popovic, Director General for persons with disabilities at the Ministry of Justice, Human and Minority Rights, stated: “We should all work together to suppress hate speech, mostly through changing our own attitudes and through constant efforts in education. Hate speech is a phenomenon that makes the society toxic, and does not have a place in a society which considers love and tolerance as its important values.”
The “Block the Hatred. Share the Love!” initiative aims to combat various forms of hate speech targeting specific communities and individuals in Montenegrin society. The campaign is supported by prominent public figures, institutions and activists, who will promote diversity and equality in Montenegro and in the region, through personal storytelling, testimonies and exchange of good practices. In this specific case, the initiative is partnering with the action on “Quality education for all” in Montenegro, also part of the joint European Union and Council of Europe programme “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey 2019-2022“.