Macedonian president walks bullied girl to school

North Macedonia's President Stevo Pendarovski. [EPA-EFE/VALDRIN XHEMAJ]

Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski walked an 11-year-old girl with Down syndrome to school after hearing she was being bullied.

It was reported that the girl was being bullied in school and that parents had complained about her being present to teachers. They disagreed with a child with special needs being taught alongside their children and some claimed she was aggressive, an accusation the child’s family firmly denied. Following an assessment, it was deemed that the girl should attend a state school. The news of the bullying and discrimination sparked controversy in the region.

Pendarovski talked with Embla’s parents about the challenges she and her family face on a daily basis, focusing on opportunities to overcome them.

The president also encouraged and supported the parents in their fight for the protection of the rights of children with atypical development and welcomed the Ombudsman’s quick reaction and decision of the Commission for Protection against Discrimination to open a procedure in the case of the girl.

“We are all equal in this society. I came here to give my support and to raise awareness that inclusion is a basic principle”, the press release quoted Pendarovski as saying.

There was “a legal and moral obligation to provide inclusive education, in which the main focus is on developing skills and abilities in children with different developmental processes,” he stressed, emphasising the need to raise public awareness of the issue.

(Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)

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