North Macedonian President walks Down girl to school

18-02-2022

Southern Europe

Lennart Nijenhuis, CNE.news

Photo Stevo Pendarovski

Fellow students and their parents bullied an 11-year-old girl from North Macedonia with Down syndrome. Then, the country President took action.

President Stevo Pendarovski held hands with Embla Ademi when they went to her school Edinstvo together in Gostivar earlier in February. The girl with Down Syndrome started the second half of the year late due to the boycott of her classmates' parents. She also had to attend classes on her own.

According to the Turkish state-owned press agency Anadolu, some parents wrote a petition, saying that they decided not to let their children go to school "because of the obstruction of teaching by student Embla and because of aggression". That petition caused a stormy reaction in Macedonia, making the Ombudsman investigate the matter.

On February 7th, the Macedonian President, Stevo Pendarovski, visited the family of 11-year-old Embla Ademi and the primary school "Edinstvo", where she attends classes in the fourth grade. He spoke to Embla and her parents about the challenges she and her family face daily.

The North Macedonian newspaper Nova Makedonija reports that the President stressed that the behaviour of those who endanger the rights of children is unacceptable, especially when it comes to children with atypical development.

Not only should they enjoy the rights they deserve, the head of state said, but they should also feel equal and welcome in the school desks and the schoolyard. "That is our obligation, as a state, but also as individuals, and the key element in this common mission is empathy. It will help children like Embla, but it will also help us to learn from them how to truly rejoice, share, and show solidarity."

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