2001 JDN: Youth Centers Review: Promoting Life Opportunities for Adolescents in Jordan Project
Author: Adas, W.
In May 2000, UNICEF launched the "Promoting Life Opportunities for Adolescents in Jordan, with a Focus on Girls" Project. In fulfilment of its objectives and in accordance with the Ministry's interest, both UNICEF and the Ministry of Youth agreed to join efforts to conduct a participatory review of the activities in the Ministry's centres. The Youth Centers' Review is expected to form a solid base on which UNICEF can plan effective and practical activities. These plans and activities aim to enhance active participation of youth in quality and quantity at their local community in general, and at their local youth centers in particular.
Purpose / Objective
The Review is to cover thoroughly all aspects of the 63 youth centers' operations such as vision, objectives, programs, activities, staffing, equipment, and others. Moreover, it is to provide a proposed plan of work, considering one of these centers as a Model Youth Center of best practices. And, for the purpose of enhancing present and future planning capabilities that target youth centers, a preliminary youth centers' database is developed. The database consists exclusively of information collected during the course of the Review.
UNICEF, with the aim of ensuring a participatory and multi-disciplinary implementation process of the Review, formed a Review Team consisting of 2-3 UNICEF staff, the Review Consultant, and a Ministry Review Facilitator. The Review Team approved the work proposal submitted by the Review consultant. The working plan suggested a four-stage Review implementation plan. Each stage is to cover a different structural element related to youth centers: (1) ministry and central staff, (2) youth centers & youth supervisors, (3) youth center members, and (4) the Model center. Each stage was designed adequately to the element it is targeting and, prior to every stage, a detailed working plan was submitted separately to the Review Team for discussion and approval. Moreover, after every stage, the consultant submitted with the next stage working plan, a full report on the concluded stage. Focus groups with boy and girl members of youth centres, and interviews with staff in all of the youth centers were utilized.
Key Findings and Conclusions
48.4% of the total Youth Centers are located in urban areas, and 51.6% in rural areas. Yet, evidence from the Ministry official shows it is exerting its efforts to remote and less fortunate areas.
Facts on the gender distribution of the YCs show that male youth centers consist 58.7% (37 centers) of the total number of centers nationwide. Female youth centers consist of only 39.6% (25 centers), and 1 Mixed Youth Center representing 1.7%. The numbers show that there are more centers for boys than for girls. However, when looking at the year of establishment, it is evident that there is a trend to establish more girls' centers in recent years.
Unfortunately, no official youth centers' expansion policy was identified on both the center or field level. This Review failed to establish the existence of an official and pre-set youth centers' expansion plan and/or standards of expansion or the establishment of new youth centers. Yet, MoY officials acknowledged the fact that the new centers are established based on the request of local communities, with the condition of donating a one-year's rent of the center location.
On the national level, there are 201 (119 male, 82 females) staff members employed at youth centers. 140 out of the 201 are Youth Supervisors (75 males, 65 females) and the rest are support staff, mostly clerks. A common complaint registered during field interviewing of YS representing all 63 centers is that most centers lack an adequate number of staff, adding that the work load of supervisors exceed the number of staff that carry out this load. Ministry officials explain that the staff shortage is due to government cut-down jobs policy.
All YS interviewed stated that they did not receive prior training on YS responsibilities. Newly hired supervisors stated that even the financial and administrative procedures, regulations, and operational systems know-how was acquired by duplicating previous work and forms. In general, the training issue received high criticism and many negative allegations by almost all interviewed YS.
On the level of the YS experience with training, it was stressed that they have received training on a limited number of topics. For example, the only topics that cut across most YS training portfolios were scouts skills courses and reproductive health awareness workshops.
On the national level, all YCs suffer from weak infrastructure and lack of equipment needed to carry out administrative, financial and youth services tasks and responsibilities. The overwhelming majority of YCs are rented apartments, 58 youth centers' location are rented locations or 92% and, in most cases, in the second or third floor of the building, thus limiting the service delivery capability of the center significantly. Practicing all types of sports is impossible; lack of space limits the number of members frequently visiting the center; holding several and different activities at the same time is impractical.
Another negative feature is the physical location of many centers. Many of these centers are located far from heavily populated areas of the village or the city in which they serve. Others are located close to car repair shops, garages, and other inappropriate locations.
The two main characteristics of the administrative and financial systems of YCs in Jordan are centralization and bureaucracy. All administrative and financial issues and procedures need to be processed through a detailed and lengthy process. All decisions related to issues such as budgeting, activities planning, staffing needs and hiring, purchasing, and other major administrative and financial issues are exclusively decided at the central level. In both the administrative and financial systems, YCs have no authority, decision-making capacity, or influence in all matters concerning administrative and financial systems. The lengthy financial and administrative process consumes most of the youth supervisors' efforts and working hours since every aspect of their work needs prior approvals from the field directorate and the Ministry.
This point was also commonly repeated against the Central Activities (CA); supervisors and members stressed that the Ministry implements their CA plan in total isolation from the needs and circumstances of the centers and youth. The Ministry does not provide centers with either a yearly schedule on the exact timing of the CA, or a monthly schedule for that matter.
Improving of the YCs can only work when changes are made at the central level and in the MOY working approach. It is generally believed that the development of a detailed strategy and vision for the YCs is a good start for restructuring and upgrading the YCs' role and work. Based on these, specific objectives can be defined for the YCs. The study has a list of detailed recommendations related to the administrative system, to the financial system and to the service delivery process.
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