Students from the town of Samokov entered into direct dialogue with the mayor and businesses and discussed possibilities for realization in their hometown. The idea for the campaign and the meetings belongs to the Economic and Social Council (ESC) and is one of the proposals set out in its recent analysis of migration attitudes in secondary education in Bulgaria. ESC's study shows that young people from small towns demonstrate attitudes to go to larger towns, and from the big towns - to the capital or abroad. According to ESC, the role of society, including local authorities, is to try to keep more young people to contribute to the development of their place of origin. To this end, ESC organized a series of discussion meetings in the country with the participation of students from the last year of secondary school and invited them together with representatives of the local authorities to hear young people's views about what problems in their municipality need to be decided and how to solve them, so that the young people could remain in the community and have opportunities for personal realisation.

The first of the series of meetings took place in Samokov and was attended by ESC President Professor Lalko Dulevski, PhD, the Mayor of Samokov - Vladimir Georgiev, the Chairman of the Bulgarian Union of Teachers and member of the ESC - Yanka Takeva, the Director of the Labour Bureau - Veneta Galeva, representatives of the business sector and more than 100 students from schools in the municipality.

Professor Dulevski, PhD presented the results of the study on migration attitudes among secondary school graduates drawing a parallel with the results of the consultation among the students only in the municipality of Samokov. He stressed that young people point to the continuation of their education as the main motive for leaving their birthplace, but also stressed that graduates have clear demands for improvement of the quality of life in the municipality in which they live. Respondents indicated the following main reasons for being willing to go abroad: obtaining good higher education, obtaining a good job, obtaining higher incomes and living standards, providing financial help to one's family. Only about three percent say they do not want to live in Bulgaria.

Students from Samokov heard from Mayor Georgiev a detailed account of what the municipality can do and what opportunities for young people it can provide. They also attended the presentations of employers from the region.

Then the students were divided into five working groups with the task to answer one question: "What positive change need to happen in the municipality for you to stay here and how can you take part in positive processes and changes?" Working in groups was not only interesting and exciting for young people, but engendered many ideas that the mayor carefully recorded and committed to addressed each of them. Some of the ideas were to create a "practical" centre for vocational training and guidance, to create voluntary clubs, for example - for young foresters to protect the forest, to create a municipal pet police, to create a processing plant for agricultural products in Samokov. Young people also posed some questions to the mayor relating to the possibility to make tenders for work more transparent, to work for the integration of the Roma population and to ensure social justice, to invest more in culture and discontinue the tendency of it occupying the last place in the priorities of the municipality, to construct a cinema in Samokov.

The mayor was able to provide convincing answers to many of the questions, others were related to different institutions, but everybody agreed that students are not well informed about what is happening in the municipality as well as about the plans for the business development of Samokov. The mayor accepted the challenge and promised better quality dialogue with young people in the future.

ESC continues the campaign of meetings with students and local authorities after a week in Kazanlak.



is the “bridge” between citizens and the national government. Its mission is to support such “bridging” so as to facilitate the communication between the society and the national government. It is the new and modern institution of the civil dialogue.

The ESC's mission is to promote civil society organisations access to and involvement in the process of decision-making on strategic economic and social issues.

The main goal of ESC's operation is to enable different representatives of organised civil society to feel free to state their views whereas unanimity on matters of common interest is encouraged. The Council expresses and protects civil society interests by communicating agreed statements and proposals submitted by its members to the executive and legislative authorities.

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