30 April 2021

Constantin-Alexandru MANDA is our nomination for a mandate in the Advisory Council on Youth of the Council of Europe

After carefully considering the Call for representatives of youth organisations and networks from the 50 States Parties to the European Cultural Convention for the Advisory Council on Youth (CCJ) 2022-23, on behalf of GEYC & PRISMA European Network it is our pleasure to nominate

Mr Constantin-Alexandru MANDA

as a member of the Advisory Council on Youth (2022-2023). Alexandru has outstanding achievements in the youth field in Romania and in Europe, by being the founder of Asociația Elevilor din Constanța, a youth representative structure that managed to determine the Ministry of Education from Romania to allocate additional funds for the support of the most vulnerable youth through: transportation subsidies, textbooks, scholarships and other youth rights.

In 2021, Alexandru’s commitment to be the voice of his generation was acknowledged by being chosen as the “Young European of the Year 2021” in the annual competition of the Schwarzkopf Foundation, European Youth Forum and European Commission Representation in Germany.

Linked with Council of Europe priorities for this call, we would like to mention the following:

Priority 1 Revitalising pluralistic democracy
“Youth organisations and member States have increased their capacity to develop youth policy and youth work for the democratic participation of young people.”

Key achievements

  • Constantin-Alexandru Manda was in 2013 (at the age of only 14 years old) one of the founders of Constanta’s School Students' Association (AEC), the first independent organisation for representing students’ rights in Romania. In 5 years of school students' representation, Alexandru built the most powerful school students' organisation in Romania and one of the most active youth associations in our country. The good practice example of AEC has been taken by many other school students' from Romania who founded school students' associations in their own counties. Through the school students' organisations, the young people are more participative in the society and in society and in their local communities, being active citizens from an early age;
  • From 2018, Constantin-Alexandru worked with the Romanian Academic Society, one of the oldest think-tanks in Romania. At the moment, he is the program coordinator of the organisation and manages the RAS' initiatives in education, youth participation and human rights. One of his projects is Clean Schools - an initiative for increasing good governance and the level of financing from the local authorities in public education. Through this project is pursued an improvement of the access to education of children in five counties from Romania (over 450 localities). The philosophy of the project does not follow direct interventions, but advocacy actions to make the local authorities respect the law. In every county, there is a local team with school students volunteers, which are prepared to become local active leaders of their community. Just in the last five months, through the advocacy actions of this project, more than 1 million euros were invested in the local public education because over 50 city halls started to respect the right of school students' to scholarships.
  • Another project of Alexandru is the Civic Involvement Accelerator for Young People, an initiative which aims to shape 24 youths (aged 15 to 26) from 24 underdeveloped communities (small urban and rural areas) settlements into vectors of local change.
  • In 2017, Alexandru joined the “Promoters for European Democracy” project initiated by the European Parliament Office in Romania with the support of GEYC and got further involved in promoting the European democracy among his peers in Constanta.
  • Starting 2015, Alexandru Manda is or was a member or delegate in many commissions and committees initiated by the national authorities of Romania on different topic in the education, human rights, european funds or development field, such as:
    • Social Dialogue Committee and commissions for legislative changes within the Ministry of Education;
    • Different working groups within the Ministry of Education or Presidential Administration in the context of Educated Romania (country plan for education);
    • European Semester committee, within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
    • Monitoring committees for the operational programs and working groups for drafting the country priorities, within the Ministry of European Funds.
Priority 2 Young people’s access to rights
“Young people and youth organisations have increased their capacity to access their rights and advocate for human rights and citizenship education.”

Key achievements

  • As the president of AEC (from 2015 to 2018), Alexandru turned out to be one of the most dedicated young leaders from Romania. Alexandru Manda coordinated advocacy actions after which:
    • The Ministry of Education was forced to respect the law and to offer free textbooks to school students from junior and senior years (11th and 12th grade), after suing them and obtaining victory in the midst of adversity at the Court of Appeal (budgetary impact of 8 million euros);
    • Forced the local authorities from Constanta county to respect the Law of Education and assure a 50% discount on public transport. Obtained for the students in Constanta county social and merit scholarships;
    • Convinced the Parliament to amend the Law of Education and provided for school students' representatives a place in the Administrative Council of every highschool in Romania, which is the body that takes the most important decisions in the educational institutions;
    • The Ministry of Education passed after many advocacy actions the School Students' Statute, which is the code of rights and duties of school students', that visibly reduced the abuses in the Romanian school system, also increasing transparency in the education.
  • In 2020, Alexandru Manda (aged only 21 years old) managed a national report of the Institution of Ombudsman on respecting the right to scholarships in the whole country. The report shows that only 180 localities from 3182 are respecting their legal duty to grant scholarships for school students'. But, many of the city halls which grant scholarships are offering very low amounts, which is not enough for the purpose of the scholarships. For example, there are localities with a social scholarship of just 1 or 2 euros per month. During the pandemic, social scholarships are more important than ever and that is the reason this was the main focus of Alexandru in 2020.
  • Alexandru Manda, as the representative of the Romanian Academic Society, coordinated an advocacy action (from September 2020 to February 2021), after which the Government adopted a decision and settled a minimum amount for the scholarships at the level of 100 RON per month (approx. 23 euros). Because of his efforts and insistence, the subject of the right to scholarships became mainstream in Romania and other organizations started to advocate for this issue as well. As a result, this year the national budget of Romania will contain 530 million RON (approx. 110 million EUR) for the payment of scholarships at the minimum amount established by the Government in December. Because of all the actions he started since he was just a young boy, the right to scholarships of the school students' will be respected in every city of Romania, and no scholarship will be less than 100 RON per month.
  • In 2017, Alexandru Manda participated at the Council of Europe’s Conference on the Future of Human Rights Education and Education for Democratic Citizenship in Europe. After that, he became a strong promoter of introducing human rights education in the national curriculum of Romania.
Priority 3 Living together in peaceful and inclusive societies
“Youth workers and young people have gained knowledge and skills to work on peace-building and intercultural dialogue to prevent and combat discrimination, exclusion and violent extremism.”

Key achievements

  • The advocacy programs that Alexandru Manda has led for the free access of every child to a quality education had as a result lowering the rate of school dropout and the growth of participation to formal education of the children coming from disadvantaged environments. Inclusive quality education is the desideratum for which Alexandru Manda has fought for over 8 years and for which he contributed by ensuring the right of every school student to scholarship, free textbooks and 50% discount for public transportation.
  • The accelerator of civic involvement for young people, the latest project coordinated by Alexandru Manda, aims to transform 24 young people from underdeveloped communities (rural and small urban) into civic leaders with community impact. Of the 24, at least 3 are Roma, and at least one is Hungarian, in order to promote interculturality and combat discrimination and hate speech.
Priority 4 Youth work
“Youth organisations and member States have increased their capacity to strengthen, recognise and advance youth work policies and practices, notably through a European youth work agenda.”

Key achievements

  • Since 2017, Alexandru has been an active member of the GEYC Community, one of the first digital youth work communities in Romania. Given his commitment to supporting youth, Alexandru was awarded the GEYC10 Changemakers distinction.
  • As a youth worker himself, Alexandru trained his peers in the field of youth rights and advocacy. Furthermore, he contributed to the development of the youth policies at local and national levels, notably in the direction of how authorities should allocate resources for the youth needs in a participatory way.
"We believe that Alexandru's profile shows commitment and determination towards the rights of the young people, towards transparency, youth participation and professionalism, aspects that are totally aligned with the priorities of the Council of Europe in the youth field and the Bonn Declaration adopted during EYWC2020." (Gabriel BREZOIU, General Manager of GEYC and President of the PRISMA European Network)