“Voices of Youth” Workshops: “Instead of Excuses, Young People Should Work on Suggestions and Solutions to Their Problems”
Four dialogue workshops on the situation of youth in BiH were held in December 2012, following the publication of the results and findings of the UN “Voices of Youth” survey. Organized by the partner organization Youth Information Center and held in Mostar, Tuzla, Banja Luka and Sarajevo, the workshops were an opportunity for the key actors from the public sector and civil society and young people to speak about main recommendations and priorities, present examples of good practices and emphasize the most important follow-up steps to be undertaken.
Young participants gathered around four workshop topics (participation and free time, migrations, employment and education), discussed some of the survey results, sought answers to questions about the causes of certain negative indicators and gave recommendations for necessary improvements. The set of compiled recommendations from all four workshops is available for the download.
Recommendations that were most frequently heard at all workshops included improvement of general conditions for youth, in order to encourage them to stay in BiH; incentives for employers to employ young people; improvements of educational system and additional training for teachers, in order for them to streamline the teaching process with the latest technical developments; expanding inclusion coverage and better preparation of teachers, students and parents for inclusive classes and acceptance of students in inclusive schools; professional orientation, etc.
“Young people often do not give much thought to what they would like to do, nor are they offered sufficient and adequate guidance. Youth should be informed about the labor market.Volunteerism should be encouraged while they are still attending school”, was one of the conclusions of the employment topical group in Mostar, presented by Aldina - the group spokesperson.
“Current teaching methodology is outdated. Teachers are in need of seminars and additional training. If we are the “digital generation”, then teachers should get “digitalized” too, in order for all of us to communicate with and understand each other better”, said Slobodan from the education topical group in Sarajevo.
“There are 70 per cent young people seeking to leave BiH, thinking that the grass is greener somewhere else. Youth should be given access to quality information about migrations. This can be done by promoting information centers where the young people who contemplate leaving the country could receive reliable information on everything they want to know as well as relevant contact points”, was one of the conclusions of the migration topical group in Mostar, presented by Edin – the group spokesperson.
Ivana, the spokesperson for the participation topical group in Sarajevo, emphasized that “affirmative action” for the youth should be reinforced in relevant legislation so as to allow them more active participation in various processes. She also pointed out the role played by the media: “It is crucial to recognize the role of traditional and new media which should be used to strengthen collective awareness of the importance of youth participation”.
“A number of conclusions emanated from the four workshops. They will be compiled, structured and presented as a unique set of demands for the improvement of youth situation in BiH”, said Jan Zlatan Kulenović of the Youth Information Agency, following the completion of the workshops. He expressed his satisfaction with the participation of young people in the workshops which were already in line with many recommendations regarding participation.
Katarina Crnjanski-Vlajčić, YERP project manage, urged young people to be aware of the importance of their voices. “You are proactive, however many of your peers are not. They tend to offer excuses, instead of taking initiative and bringing about change. It is up to you to animate them and encourage them to participate, in order to improve the situation of youth. The workshops have shown that young people in BiH share similar problems. All questions and conclusions coming from you will be used in the development of new programs. That is a tremendous contribution in its own right“, said Ms. Crnjanski-Vlajčić.
The Voices of Youth survey was conducted this year within the UN Youth Employability and Retention Program which is supported by the Millennium Development Goals Fund (MDG-F) through funding of the Government of the Kingdom of Spain. UNICEF took part in YERP education component which foresees increased capacities of the education system and local communities to improve youth employability. UNDP and UNV, IOM and UNFPA were involved in the other two components – enhancing capacities of the Public Employment Services and Civil Society to improve youth employability and maximizing positive impact of youth migration whilst minimizing the impact of irregular migrations.