Albanian children have been greatly affected by the turmoil that has swept their country since the end of Communism in 1991. The collapse of governance and the rejection of the past have created a social vacuum, leaving young people with little to build on. As the country has emerged from years of isolation, the government has prioritized the rebuilding of physical infrastructure. Social issues, including issues of concern to adolescents, have received comparatively little attention. As a result, poverty and inequality have increased. Neighbouring conflicts in the Balkans have further destabilized the country. Internal and external migration in search of jobs has led to widespread social problems. Albanian young people have increasingly fallen victim to trafficking, exploitation and crime, partly fuelled by the acute migration pressure. During the transition period, risk behaviours such as drug use and unprotected sex are increasing. HIV/AIDS infection rates are low now, but the epidemic is growing fast and the government is doing little to inform and help young people protect themselves.
The results of a 2001 UNICEF/ Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) youth opinion poll revealed that fewer than 1 per cent of young people in Albania believe that politics will have a positive impact on their future. Two thirds expect to make their future in Western Europe or North America. At the same time, 70 per cent of young people expect that their lives will be better than those of their parents, demonstrating the optimism that can help inform and improve the situation of adolescents.
Troç (Straight Talk) is a one-hour nationwide weekly television programme in Albania produced by adolescents. Troç deals with issues of concern and interest to young people ? everything from children in the north kept out of school by fears of revenge killings to the national puppet theatre. The young reporters? stories have covered the Youth Parliament, sports heroes, the use of drugs, family problems and the future of Albania, as they see it. About 45 per cent of the programmes are on young people?s issues, 23 per cent each on country issues and cultural heritage, and 10 per cent on talented and distinguished youth.
In a country where 40 per cent of the population is 18 or younger and virtually every household has a television set, TV is a powerful medium for bringing adolescents together. It has proved an effective tool for building bridges between adults and adolescents, so that the latter can play a key role in moving the country forward. The programme is produced by about 80 adolescents, ages 14 to 17, working in 11 bureaus throughout the country. They ?call the shots? in all aspects, guided by an adult facilitator who helps them realize their vision. On the one hand, they become agents of change, informing the country about social problems and responsibilities from their perspective. On the other hand, they are learning valuable reporting and production skills that prepare them for professional life and its challenges. The programme also develops their critical thinking skills. By working as journalists they learn to question and analyse, and not to accept things at face value.
Young People's Media Network - Coordinator
c/o ECMC (European Centre for Media Competence)
Bergstr. 8 / 10th floor
D-45770 Marl - Germany
Tel.: +49 2365 502480
Mobile: +49 176 23107083
Fax: +49 12126 23107083
Mailing list: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/youthful-media
The YPMN is supported by UNICEF and hosted by the ECMC.
The opinions and views expressed in this message and/or articles & websites linked to from this message do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.