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Mariela Baeva
Mariela Baeva
Member of the European Parliament for Bulgaria
2007 - 2009
(first direct EP elections in Bulgaria);

LEED to OECD partner (Nanotech)

News of the Day

The Global Tantrum 
 Act for Early Years logo

Young people in partnership with @Theirworld demanded action on the #GlobalEducationCrisis and world leaders have listened. #IFFEd will unlock billions for children globally and help deliver a world where every child has a place in school. #LetMeLearn

Theirworld, Your Walk: Thank you! –

Nous venons de signer cette lettre ouverte pour demander aux chefs d’Etat et de gouvernement de faire de l’école gratuite pour tous les enfants un droit humain universel.

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Youth Skills Crisis in South Asia and beyond*

Urgent action is needed to tackle the youth skills crisis in South Asia. Globally, the region embraces the largest youth population. The young people, incl. in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, have recently addressed their governments to commit and deliver on policies on training and employment. Outdated education systems are cited as being part of the concern relating to the future workforce skills. The awareness of relevant skills is another big issue.

As a young Indian systems engineer in a local village puts it, for the promotion of relevant skills “investment in sustainable and accessible institutions” of the future is vital. The step would bridge the gap “between the teaching standards and industry demands.”

This is how youth from across the region share their experiences with good practices of skills development:

17-year-old Neeshan from Hulhumalé, Maldives has spent two years in an apprenticeship program relating to her ambition: to study civil engineering. The hard skills she has learnt run in parallel with her ability to challenge stereotypes – she is the only female at the site where she gains experience.

16-year-old Mahadi from Bhola, Bangladesh, between his studies, chairs the student welfare club. As Bangladesh is a disaster-prone country, the young people cooperate with the authoritative bodies of their village, families and communities to address the consequences of climate change-induced poverty. An example is the action the club takes to ensure steps are made to restore the child’s access to education.

Youth4Jobs initiative in India, in cooperation with the private sector, supports youth with physical, speech and hearing disabilities. Training and placement of graduates in IT companies are a component of the initiative.

A skill-match programme for specific job-roles in telecom firms, for instance, is also taking hold in some countries of the region. Digitally-enabled self-learning part of the programme allows for further training and assessment of the skills. The step improves the quality of learning and training. That is expected to unleash waves of opportunity and possible higher employability.

Youth in conflict zones, and Afghanistan is an immediate reference, faces training for employment with private sector entities. This workforce development programme funded by foreign donors consists of three levels to “determine labour market needs and skills training requirements.”

The region can set a good practice for the world. The concerns in South Asia are not an isolated case. The urgent action is a global wake-up call to governments, businesses and young people themselves. The impact on education and skills because of automation, digitisation, and other consequences of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is in full swing in the EU and other regions of the world as well. The 2030 skills scorecard throws light on the world’s deficit of skills. To make the future less bleak in that respect a transformation of the “skills landscape” for the next generations is a must. How to unlock investment and build new partnerships that embrace all stakeholders is at the heart of addressing what turns to be a “massive crisis”: will the young people have the skills needed for the workplace of the future?

*based on data provided by Theirworld


Artificial intelligence*

Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming every aspect of our lives. It influences how we work and play. It promises to help solve global challenges like climate change and access to quality medical care. Yet AI also brings real challenges for governments and citizens alike.



You remember Sisyphus from Greek mythology, right?

You remember Sisyphus from Greek mythology, right? The king rolling a stone toward the crest of a hill….

He could never heave the stone over the top, “the weight would turn it back…”

The story tells he was punished for cheating.

In more recent times, this folklore figure stirred the creative imagination of a French author, Albert Camus. His Myth of Sisyphus: Essay on the Absurd tells the story of the absurd hero accomplishing nothing. The tragedy begins the moment he knows his labour is hopeless.

This is his moment of consciousness. Back down the hill to start pushing up the stone for “a hundred times over.”

The essay teaches that futile suffering is a preference. It is the absurd hero’s silent joy. It is the price for his victory. He is the master of the day. If the stone is still rolling, the absurd hero is still busy and active.

Sisyphus of Camus teaches too much self-confidence may raise rocks.

In the tragedy of Syria, who is in the struggle toward the heights? You can finish the story: one, two, three, four, more absurd heroes…

Mariela Baeva

Chibok Schoolgirls

Months ago, several girls out of 82 boarded a helicopter at the outskirts of Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. They were on the way to be reunited with their parents and classmates. After a re-integration programme, their education was resumed last September for those who wanted.

The group of 82 Chibok schoolgirls was released by Boko Haram after lengthy talks brokered by the Swiss government and the International Committee of the Red Cross and mediated by local lawyers.

Days ago, the first conviction of a man involved in the 2014 kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok, Borno state, northeast Nigeria, became a fact. A spokesman of the Justice ministry advised that the 35-year-old member of Boko Haram was given 15 years in jail after admitting to taking part in the abduction.

Hundreds of Boko Haram suspects have been tried by a special court. More than 1000 suspects are still held at the Kainji military detention facility. Continue reading

Schooling helps Syria’s refugee children maintain hope in the face of conflict

The EU must provide continue to provide resources to help Syria’s refugee children maintain access to schooling, says former MEP Mariela Baeva.

The good news is that – using the support of the EU and our campaigners – 220,000 Syrian child refugees will be registered in school this term in Lebanon. The conflict has forced these children to flee their homes in Syria and escape to neighbouring Lebanon.

It is hard to overestimate how much the hope of going back to school can mean to so many people. However, some know better than most. Take 12-year-old Mayass, who has just written a blog post about her recent return to school; “On the first day back I felt that my life had become beautiful,” she said.

World leaders will soon meet again in London at a pledging conference to seek further funding for Syria. This offers a real opportunity to build further on what we have shown is achievable. We can help another one million Syrian children get back into school.


Many people claim that it is just not possible to educate children when conflict or natural disasters disturb their lives. However, with the support of the EU and other stakeholders, we are demonstrating this is not the case. Quite the opposite; when things go wrong, schools are a vital part of the response – and vital in providing hope for the future.

We have helped secure this progress through our work as campaigners, but there is still many more people that we need to convince. New figures recently released by the United Nations this week show that there is now a €583m gap in the money needed to build on this progress. This is the amount we need to get nearly one million Syrian refugee children in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan back to school.

Please help maintain the progress for those children who deserve hope for a better future.

Mariela Baeva

Nobel Peace Prize for the new and brave nobility

She found out about her Nobel Peace Prize during her chemistry class at school in Birmingham, England. It came two years after she was brutally shot in the head while on the bus to school in Mingora, Pakistan, simply for raising her voice against the Taliban regime that banned girls from going to school.

On 20 November 2013, at the Sakharov Prize ceremony in Strasbourg, as the youngest laureate of the award ever, she addressed the European Parliament. There she said that young people deprived of education do not want an iPhone, an Xbox, a PlayStation or chocolates, “They just want a book and a pen.”

Her name is Malala Yousafzai, the teenage education campaigner. In 2014, she became the first Pakistani and the first young person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, alongside Kailash Satyarthi, for children’s rights campaigning and overcoming obstacles to education, such as child labour, child marriage, discrimination against girls and children with disabilities.

“Today,” says young Nangyalai Attal from Afghanistan and A World at School activist, “Malala is a standing and visible icon of courage in our hearts and our souls, and we are more determined than ever in the struggle for educating our sisters.”

There were many of us attending the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in the Oslo city hall on Wednesday 10 December, 2014, and the live CNN programme hosted by Christiane Amanpour. It was mentioned, during our informal discourses, that earlier in 2014 Malala and her father Ziadduin visited the Syrian-Jordan border crossing at Hadalat to meet refugees and their children.

She has also donated to the rebuilding of UN run schools damaged in the Gaza conflict, where roughly 240,000 children are educated. And she has been at the centre of international campaigns advocating for human rights and access to education for all irrespective of gender, religion, ethnicity or economic status.

I have become part of Malala’s life story, since 2007 when I joined the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with countries of South Asia. I followed activities in the region, meeting people and discussing burning issues.

The culmination of my work was in 2013, when my initiative to the European Parliament – Graham Watson leading the supporters of the idea – to nominate Malala for 2013 Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought was successful. It was a memorable moment.

As memorable as it was when Malala spoke out for the first time in public on girls’ education at the UN headquarters in 2013, wearing Benazir Bhutto’s pink shawl. At the Nobel Peace Prize concert, ‘Girls of the World’ paid tribute to the Pakistani girl and performed the “I Am Malala” song. The main purpose of the song is to raise awareness among young people, that there are places in the world where girls cannot go to school.

We’re #UpForSchool.

We are Malala. We are Shazia Ramzan. We are Kainat Riaz…They are the two girls, Malala’s friends, who were also injured in the fateful attack in Mingora. Two years later, they have become empowered young women, and this is an historic opportunity for them to make a positive change.

The Nobel Peace Prize is for the new and brave nobility.

Mariela Baeva


Education for refugee children

As I write this article, a major crisis is taking place across the world. Around, 28 million out-of-school children are living in conflict zones.

Over two million children inside Syria have been forced out of school. We have all seen the news about the on-going conflict in Syria. Over one million of them are refugees living in Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, and Lebanon. But there is a very important component that has not received the urgency that it deserves.

Lebanon, alone, is home to nearly 500,000 refugee children from Syria which is the largest number in the region. One in every four children in Lebanon is a Syrian refugee.

Back in September 2013 a petition was delivered at the United Nations calling on world leaders to provide education for the Syrian children exiled in Lebanon.

Since then, leaders have developed a plan to deliver education in the worst refugee crisis since the second world war. The plan is now ready to go and support is asked for humanitarian relief to help the victims of the Syrian conflict, to make the plan reality and get the children back to school.

Schools will operate day and night in a two shift system. Registration fees for refugees will be waived and the plan will be carried out over three years.

Equitable access to educational opportunities will enable 65 per cent of the Syrian refugees, 20 per cent of the Lebanese vulnerable children, 10 per cent of the Palestinian refugees, and five per cent of the Lebanese returnees from Syria to return to school.

The per-pupil unit cost ranges between Ђ150 and Ђ450. 420 schools will be rehabilitated, 4200 classrooms will be equipped and 420 school libraries will be established.

Training for 60,000 teachers, school administrators, educators and facilitators will be provided. Life skills programmes for 15 to 18 year olds and community outreach initiatives to address local bottlenecks affecting enrolment and retention will be supported.

The issue is on the table and pressure is growing for immediate action. We need you to remind the world’s leaders that they have to act now. You can make a difference by raising your voice and spreading the word.

If these children and young people do not have access to education, their fundamental human right, they will not only miss out on the skills to become productive citizens of their country and our world, but they will lose hope of a brighter future potentially resulting in a lost generation.

As one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent history, people everywhere need to think about the right response to a crucial question, being, ‘What are we doing about the Syria crisis?’

That is why I am proud to stand with ‘a world at school’ to support ‘education without borders’, a global action campaign to support the children of Syria, their right to education and promoting a brighter future for refugee children in the world.

Sakharov and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzaп supports the campaign and contributes to the plan for reaching all children with education in Lebanon. We simply cannot afford a lost generation. Not in Syria. Not anywhere.


The petition is calling on the international community to act now for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon. More than ever, your voice matters.

Please add your name to the petition at:

I would like to acknowledge Sarah Brown for raising the voice for action. I am grateful to Sarah’s team for having provided all data included in the article.

Mariela Baeva

#BringBackOurGirls Campaign

I am strongly committed to the global education movement. I am writing today to ask you to join the #BringBackOurGirls international campaign in support of the missing girls from Chibok, Nigeria.

In April 2014 the world was shocked by the abduction of more than 270 schoolgirls in northern Nigeria.

The kidnapping is one of an increasing number of violations of the right to education in Nigeria. Violent attacks against students and their families have become more common over recent months and hundreds of children have died or gone missing. Schools have been attacked.

In June 2014, thousands of people across the world mobilised in support of the Nigerian girls of Chibok, for safe schools and the right of every child to go to school.

Here in the European Union, we have a proud tradition of supporting the basic human rights that are denied across the world. Show your own support by taking action in support of global education. The 500-day countdown campaign is a drive to ensure that by the end of 2015 as many children as possible are in school and learning.

To be a part of this action, build a team and plan an event to stand in solidarity with the abducted northern Nigerian girls of Chibok and all those around the world who face similar struggles.

Bring education to the top of the agenda for decision-makers in your community.

Join the online conversation. Tweet why education is important to you. Spread the word. I’m counting on you to create an effective global movement.

Mariela Baeva

The Merchant of Venice*

Sixteenth century Venice was a global centre of merchant capitalism, and The Merchant of Venice offers an excellent examination of  human behaviour and its effects on financial markets.

The story is of the hapless eponymous character and his reckless friend.

With the majority of his wealth at sea, Antonio uses credit to leverage capital to lend to his friend Bassanio (“Try what my credit can in Venice do”). Bassanio requires funding to seduce the wealthy heiress Portia. On Bassanio’s behalf, Antonio borrows 3,000 ducats for a three-month period from Shylock, who offers a 0% interest rate but takes the promise of one pound (around half a kilo) of Antonio’s flesh as collateral.

By Act 3, the audience discovers that Antonio’s ships have sunk, leading to a catastrophic devaluation of his net worth. To redeem his losses, he must pay the gruesome corporeal price under the terms of a notarized contract:

“Hath all his ventures failed? What, not one hit?  From Tripolis, from Mexico and England, / From Lisbon, Barbary and India? And not one vessel scape the dreadful touch of merchant-marring rocks?”

Antonio is significantly over-leveraged and he overconfidently manages risk, based on an uncritical acceptance of the present.  If only he’d read the OECD’s Future Global Shocks: Improving Risk Governance! He would have learned that disruptive events, such as a cargo ship sinking, can destabilise critical supply systems and have far-reaching economic effects.

He might also have learnt something about financial crises: “Arguably, financial crises both occur more frequently and produce more severe monetary damage than other types of risks described. There is a concern that the tools for risk analysis have not worked as well.” It goes on to emphasise that financial crises involve human, non-malicious choices and their re-occurrence should encourage us to search for new approaches to economic challenges and models “that use data on how agents actually behave.”

Bassanio provides an illustration of the erratic behaviour of individuals in financial markets. His justification for borrowing money from Antonio is based on the logic that if one shoots and loses an arrow, one should promptly shoot another in the same direction, in order to find out where the first went – not the most rational of approaches, seeing as it is very likely your second arrow will go the same way as the first. In short, Bassanio throws good money after bad.

Since the financial crisis, traditional economic models have become increasingly criticised for being blind to herd behaviour, network effects or information asymmetries and irrational action. Agent-based models (ABM) provide an alternative modelling approach. They focus on possible interactions between agents according to certain behaviour rules, running millions of simulations to approximate the millions of potential interactions between actors, gaining a better insight into possible outcomes of the complex system. In complex systems such as debt markets or financial institutions, shocks can be caused by external pressures (ships sinking) or internal (erratic individuals).  It is therefore important to understand these systems at both the macro and micro-level.

Another important human aspect of financial systems is trust and expectations. Towards the end of the play, Antonio is dragged to court, with Shylock demanding his pound of flesh. While the presiding Duke of Venice initially proposes that Shylock might assume certain losses and forgive part of Antonio’s debt, “Forgive a moiety of the principal, / Glancing an eye of pity on his losses”, this raises deep concerns:

“It must not be; there is no power in Venice Can alter a decree established. ‘Twill be recorded for a precedent, And many an error by the same example Will rush into the state. It cannot be.”

A major fall-out of the financial crisis was the possible creation of “moral hazard”, the expectation, or guarantee, that public authorities will bail out uninsured and unsecured creditors of systemically important bank debt. When such guarantees are perceived, behaviour incentives may be distorted.

As two OECD papers on implicit guarantees and banking in a challenging environment make clear, solutions for our modern day financial dilemmas lie in internationally coordinated responses. For example, the first paper suggests that an effective cross-border EU bank failure resolution network would lower the value (and danger) of implicit sovereign guarantees. The second notes that as banks deleverage and assets become renationalised, a European Banking Union would sever the link between weak sovereigns and weak banks.

But knowing what to do and doing it are two different things, as the quick-witted heiress Portia reminds us; “If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do…”

*excerpts from Kimberley Botwright’s article of the OECD Public Affairs and Communications Directorate looking at OECD work through a Shakespearean lens.


Time to Say “NO” Campaign

PEN Austria, 06.03.2013

Concordia Press Club, Vienna

Intervention by Mariela Baeva


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. This is stipulated in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It embodies common values originating in the world’s social, philosophical, political, cultural traditions.

Despite the international agreements and objectives, at the turn of the 21st century, hundreds of millions of young people worldwide are left outside the education systems. The international expertise indicates that 60 % of that overall number are girls and the majority belongs to South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. In some of these contexts there are strong political obstacles to girls’ and women’s access to education.

At the time when Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl, was shot in the head for expressing her concern about the restrictions of the Taliban regime for girls to attend school in the Swat Valley, I was compiling the Anthology “In the Hug of Arms” and I received from Henna Babar Ali, the chairwoman of Pakistani PEN club, a poem dedicated to Malala. Among the lines Henna says:

The bullet pierced my heart

Malala your courage rebounds in 7 billion hearts

You are the light and we follow you

You are an education. And we cannot fail you for in it we fail humanity

Building the bridge to Malala’s lifestory that makes her the light for young people striving for better life all over the world, I’ll share with you the memoir of one of the brightest minds of my nation, a poet and a distinguished translator of Shakespeare in Bulgarian. In an article of his, written more than six decades ago, he remembered going every morning to the train station to wait for the train bringing the newspapers, eager to know about the world, about people’s lives and their endeavours. He was reflecting in the article on the nature of any rigid political system limiting freedom, as having in its fabric the fibres of suspicion, hostility and aggression to young people, young minds, and fresh concepts. At the time he lived – in a regime supporting Nazi Germany – allowing access to education would have led to a lost control over young people, over their future and would have created an environment “benign” for informal talks, information exchange, protest or uncensored decisions.

Today he says that there is no system, no regime, no doctrine that could prevail over dreams, audacity, great courage…

Today we say that education is curiosity; it is creativity; imagination; autonomy; freedom.  It is the worth, the value of the individual.

We say “No” to any system, any regime depriving anyone of that value.

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