5.3 Youth representation bodies
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There are no official Youth Parliament. However, a non-recognised association organises every year a Youth Parliament. The Youth Parliament Wallonia-Brussels is a non-profit organisation set up in 1997 at the initiative of a Belgian student. The idea comes from Quebec where this project exists since 1949. A Board of Trustees, composed of former participants, organises every year a “parliament simulation” in the French-speaking Community’s Parliament. 120 young people aged between 17 and 26 years old are selected by the Board of Trustees as deputies or journalists. There is a will to diversify profiles (workers, unemployed, students, etc.). During 5 days, they will examine 4 fictional decrees and will take decisions following the same process as used in real life.
The event is hosted in the French-speaking Community’s parliament during one week in February. Young deputies and journalists live together for one week and work together on fictional decrees as deputies and journalists of a fictional country.
The event is highly broadcasted by Belgian medias.
The Youth Parliament is organised at the French-speaking Community’s level. It is managed by an independent association. It is not part of the constitutional structure.
Role and responsibilities
The missions of this Parliament are mainly about learning how political decision works, politic's procedures, sharing citizen’s value, give voice to young people.
Thematic are various and are not focused on youth topic. General political themes are approached such as prison system, discriminations, unemployment, etc.
Decision taken are completely fictional. There is no official notice addressed to authorities.
The event is highly broadcasted.
The association receives subsidies from the French-speaking Community. It is also sponsored by Universities, Higher Education Institutions, private partners, etc.
Participation fees amount to 60 euros. This addresses the simulation week. It includes one week accommodation in a youth hostel, food, practical arrangements, etc.
The Youth Forum is the main and official advisory body for youth consultation in the French-speaking Community. The legislation governing the Youth Council is the Decree creating the Youth Forum (Décret créant le Forum des jeunes du 03 mai 2019).
This independent association takes place at the French-speaking Community-wide level. It is not part of the country’s constitutional structure.
How does the consultation work?
In order to consult all the young people aged between 16 and 30 years old of the French-Speaking Community, the Youth Forum organises online consultations and decentralised forums. The Youth Forum members, supported by the team of permanent workers, meet young people in festivals, universities, schools on the territory of the Community. It works closely with some youth associations to foster the consultation of specific target groups such as disabled young people or young people lacking job security.
Role and responsibilities
Its role is to have young people (16-30 years old) participating in the democratic process, by collecting their opinion to then relieve it to the politics. This body is active at regional, national and international level.
Its 4 missions are:
- to issue advices on authorities demand or out of own initiative ;
- to promote civic participation of young people and their empowerment ;
- to consult young people on themes affecting them to build a collective speech to relay to the politics ;
- to represent young people and the youth sector at the national and international level.
The Youth Forum mainly receives funds from the French-speaking Community through. For its international projects (the european youth dialogue), the Forum is co-funded by the European Commission. It also receives other funding related to specific thematic projects.
Each Higher Education Institution or Universities in the French-speaking Community has a student’s council.
The decree of 21 September 2012 related to the student participation and representation in Higher education (relatif à la participation et la representation étudiante dans l’enseignement supérieur) has standardised the structure and functioning of student’s council in any kind of Higher Education Institutions in the French-speaking Community.
Students of the school Institution elect their representatives within the school Institution every year or every 2 years. To validate the polls, the participation rate must amount at least 20%.
A student’s council is composed of at least 7 members elected and must be composed of at least one representative of each faculty for Universities or field of study for Higher Education Institution.
An annual subvention is allocated to each representative organisation recognised at Community’s level according to the article 36 of the decree of 21 September 2009.
The total amount of subvention allocated annually by the French-speaking Community to student’s council recognised by the Ministry is 105 000 euros according to the decree of 21 September 2009 (art 35).
Role and responsibilities
The student’s council must:
- Represent the students of their education institution
- Defend and promote the student’s interests related to the education, pedagogy or the institution’s management
- Arouse the active participation of students in order to offer them the possibility to be active, responsible, critical citizen within the society and within their education institution
- Ensure the circulation of information between High School’s authorities and High School’s students.
- Participate to the training of student’s representatives to ensure the continuity of the representation
- Designate their representatives for the representation at higher level
- Inform students about their rights, about the High School’s daily life and about education possibilities within the Higher Education Institution.
There are no structural measures aimed at facilitating greater inclusiveness and diversity.
Student’s council grouped into Federations
Student’s councils are grouped into Federations depending on the values and ideologies. There are 6 Federations which are recognised and funded as youth organisations by the French-speaking Community according to the decree of 26 March 2009 related to Youth Organisations.
Thematic movements which are youth organisations gather volunteers who analyse social issues and raise awareness on citizen’s questions. Among the 16 thematic movements, 6 are or include higher education student unions:
1. French-speaking Students Federation (Fédération des Etudiants Francophone). It is composed of 27 local groups.
2. French-speaking Community’s Students Union (Union des Etudiants de la Communauté Française). It is composed of 12 local groups.
3. Interuniversity Commitee of Medecine Students (Comité InterUniversitaire des Etudiants en Médecine)
4. Liberal Students Federation (Fédération des Etudiants Libéraux). It is composed of 7 local groups.
5. Young socialists movement (Youth FGTB). It is composed of 15 510 members.
6. GLBT Student Federation (Les CHEFF – Fédération étudiante LGBTQI) .
The Committee of French-speaking pupils (Comité des Elèves Francophones - CEF) is a youth service recognised and funded as youth organisation by the French-speaking Community according to the Decree of 26 March 2009 related to Youth Organisations.
The Council receives subsidies from the Youth Department.
This non-for-profit organisation set up in 2009 is the pupil’s unions for secondary school. It regroups pupil’s union of many secondary schools. The Committee promotes pluralism and aims at raising awareness about citizenship issues at school level and at the Community-wide level. The Committee’s actions revolve around 4 axes:
- Act on issues linked to the education
- Strengthen the pupil’s role within the school
- Represent the pupil’s voice
- Include the school in the society.
A team of permanent workers organised in a Board of Trustees manages the union. The Committee’s members are generally aged between 13 and 20 years old. The Committee also addresses secondary school’s directions, parent’s associations, politics authorities, etc.
The membership is free. Any young people in the age group may join the Council.
For the school year 2012-2013, 344.747 pupils from 497 regular secondary schools and 8 896 pupils from 43 CEFA were represented.
Youth Organisations sector and Youth Centres sector have official representative bodies:
- Advisory Commission of the Youth Organisations (Commission Consultative des Organisations de Jeunesse). This Commission requests the presence of one half of the young people aged under 35
- Advisory Commissionof the Youth Centres and Youth Clubs (Commission Consultative des Maisons et Centres de Jeunes) requests the presence of one third of the young people aged under 26.
The Minister for Youth and the Youth Department conduct regular dialogue and consultation with these bodies.
Some Youth Councils also exist at the local or provincial level but these remain unevenly spread over the territory and are not part of a common legal framework. There are differences in the age of the target population, the number of youth representatives, various mechanisms of selection and consultation, various roles of the Youth Council, etc.