The Second Europe-Western Balkans Youth Meeting took place in Podgorica, Montenegro, between the 23rd and the 25th of May 2018, just 1 day after the new #YouthStrategy was adopted at European level, on the 22nd of May, and just 6 days after the Sofia Declaration, where EU leaders reaffirmed their unequivocal support for the European perspective of the Western Balkans.
PRISMA European Network was represented by Ms Adelina DRAGOMIR (GEYC, Romania) that had the chance to share our good practices in European cooperation and in addressing young people via digital channels such as EQYP standard of quality and GEYC Community.
The participants got familiar with the recent documents regarding the discussion
In this context, over 60 youth workers, National Agencies, RYCO, SALTO and European Commision representatives, came together to find common strategies to support the region's political, economic, and social transformation. They took on three different areas: youth participation, civic education and social inclusion.
Panel with Lana Pasic, Researcher, Bojana Bulatovic, RYCO, Anita Johansen, European Commission
At an early stage of their efforts, they identified which were the good practices that already existed in these areas. First on their list was RYCO, the Regional Youth Cooperation Office, which is an independently functioning institutional mechanism, founded by the Western Balkans 6 participants (WB 6): Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, Macedonia and Serbia, aiming to promote the spirit of reconciliation and cooperation between the youth in the region through youth exchange programs. As a great tool for civic education, for example, they agreed on Erasmus Eurydice, an information network supporting European cooperation in education by providing information on, and analysis of, European education systems and policies. When it came for social inclusion, they learnt that Macedonian National Agency offers at least 30% of their grants to young people with fewer opportunities in project activities, according to 2017 survey.
They went on identifying the challenges of their fields. Regarding youth participation, they thought the main challenges were: lack of involvement of different groups of young people, lack of proper youth-related policies and regulations in the region, insufficient visibility of youth achievements on all levels, inefficient cross-sectorial cooperation & gvnt-al support. Social inclusion had as challenges the language barrier, the human resources (Sometimes societies are not ready to accept diversity) and the stereotypes among young people. The challenges for civic education were the lack of policy and strategies, the Low quality of Civic Education, the Corruption,the Media.
The youth participation team brainstorming on challenges
The last stage of the meeting aimed to find solutions to these challenges. For youth participation: Capacity building, starting from the bottom, from the basics and networking, finding strong partners with enough capacities and experience, increasing the budget for implementation of projects, enabling WB6 countries to become program countries, establishing National Agencies, increasing the level of information for possibilities to take part in local level initiatives (digitalization and simplified language), tailored made approach in engagement with different types of young people (more business and marketing approach), partnership with educational institutions. Social inclusion solutions: Providing scholarships for young students, and providing exchanges for NEET young people for exchanges in WB6, Civic education solutions: Changing communication channels, including media literacy as part of civic education, working with NGOs to raise awareness of voting among young people -> voter turnout hopefully higher -> possible political change, standardizing requirements and indicators in schools, Changing the content of civic education -> ensuring quality content.
During the meeting we have developed a survey to understand better the needs of the organizations from the Western Balkans ► click here to access the survey
The meeting was a great starting point for the discussions that will occur at the next Western Balkan Summit, taking place in London on the 10th of July, 2018.
Here you can also access all the documents of the meeting.