Lidija Knežević, a Community Story from Montenegro
I was born on 24th November 1980 in the Municipality of Bar. I have a degree from the Faculty of Law, Podgorica. I was employed at the Centre for Development of Non-Governmental Organizations as a program assistant from December 2009. Since 2013, I have been working as the Coordinator of Programs for the improvement of the legal and institutional framework for CSO. I have been a member of the CRNVO trainers/consulting team for 10 years. During this time I have implemented non-formal education programs, training courses, and workshops on different topics including the participation of citizens in decision making processes at national and local level, the management of projects financed by EU funds, strategic planning, advocacy and monitoring and evaluation of public policies. Participants of these trainings/workshops include representative of NGOs, local and state officials, and media representatives. I am the co-author of the following publications; "Analysis of Adult Education in Montenegro"; "NGO activities in adult education"; "Report on the implementation of the Law on Non-Governmental Organizations"; and "Report on the principles of good governance in local governments", among others.
I heard about Epale platform at the start of 2016. The Center for Vocational Education started implementing the EPALE project and hired me as an EPALE ambassador in order to post content on the EPALE platform. Between 2016 and 2019, as an EPALE Ambassador, I actively posted content on the platform relating to various activities in force in the NGO sector (workshops, training courses, conferences in the field of adult education, calls for grants, various publications, reports and other resources from the NGO sector).
I believe that the Epale platform is of great importance for adult education, as well as for the professional development of professionals in adult education. It is a unique place for gathering a variety of up-to-date information on adult education systems and activities from 36 countries.
Montenegro is one of the countries that has successfully responded to the challenges of the COVID 19 pandemic and has shown a responsible approach to solving the many problems caused by this virus. Immediately after the authorities took the decision to close temporarily the schools and kindergartens, the NGO for which I work moved its workers to home in order to prevent the spread of the virus. As my organisation deals with capacity building in the non-governmental sector and the development of active learning and non-formal education, all training and conferences were postponed and I returned to my hometown and "moved" my office there.
The past two months have been more than challenging for millions of people around the world, including me. I have been experiencing a range of emotions.
During the first week, I was addicted to the news and my emotions were all over the place; one minute I was scared, the next worried, the next angry. News on the effects of the coronavirus was more than depressing, but as time went on, I began to enjoy a new way of life. First, I was grateful for the privilege of spending time with my family again and enjoying activities with them; cooking, mowing, gardening and board games. At the same time, working from home gave me more freedom and awakened me to a new kind of business creativity. I was more enthusiastic about my work tasks and they became easier to complete than before. Furthermore, I began to look forward to work tasks and Skype meetings. I organised my workspace nicely, adjusted my working hours to suit my own needs and performed the assigned tasks more efficiently. Even the more complex tasks like writing projects were not as challenging for me as they were before and, in the comfort of my own home office I was able to write two demanding projects. When it comes to non-formal education programs, due to the need to respect social distancing measures, we could not organise training courses or workshops. However, in order to educate representatives from the civil sector, as well as the general public, I prepared an online publication on the mechanisms of civic participation in decision-making processes in Montenegro and examples of good practice. I hope that this publication will be of use to all those who want to be active citizens and to contribute towards the development of Montenegrin society, as well as to overcome the consequences of Covid-19.
In addition to these advantages of working from home, I would like to point out that social isolation has brought certain advantages when it comes to education and training in various fields. I have had more time to improve my English language skills, thanks, in part, to the British English Learn English platform. This platform allows you to learn English online for free on the British Council website for adults. The site offers access to hundreds of pages of text, audio and video content, mobile apps and over 2000 interactive exercises.
In conclusion, the COVID 19 pandemic has had consequences of unimaginable proportions, primarily in terms of our health, but also from an economic and social perspective.
Nevertheless, I appreciate that the fight against this virus has helped us to activate various protection mechanisms and to dedicate ourselves to our education and training in various fields.