5.8 Raising political awareness among young people
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Youth Information Center (Jugendinfo)
Young people’s access to information is provided and fostered by the youth information center "Jugendinfo", which has 2 adresses, one in Eupen in the north of the German-speaking Community and one in St. Vith in the south of the German-speaking Community. Jugendinfo is also a member of the ERYICA network and works according to the European Youth Information Charter. It is a non-profit NGO according the Belgian law. Jugendinfo follows an outreach approach since young people’s personal mobility is a major issue – especially in the south. Therefore the youth information workers visit schools and try to cooperate with youth organisations, open youth work and the Youth Office (Jugendbüro).
Jugendinfo is sending organisation for the voluntary service of the European Solidarity Corps.
In both information points, access to the internet is provided for young people as well as individual information and consultation.
Council of the German-speaking Youth (Rat der Deutschsprachigen Jugend, RDJ)
The Youth Council gives young people the opportunity to actively shape their future. To this end, it helps creating further possibilities for participation and promoting political education. For this reason, the Youth Council encourages the creation of student councils in secondary schools and the inclusion of new members. The Youth Council tries to strengthen its own membership in other committees, such as administrative boards and advisory bodies.
Institute for Democracy Pedagogy
On 16 January 2019, the Institute for Democracy Pedagogy (Institut für Demokratiepädagogik, IDP) has been founded. This institution is the successor of GrenzgeschichteDG, which was a department of the Autonomous Higher School (Autonome Hochschule, AHS).
The Institute for Democracy Pedagogy deals with the development and promotion of democratic competencies in schools, adult education and youth work and develops its own tools for this purpose, such as games, workshops and teaching units. Further training for teachers in this area and animations for youth work are also on the program.
Strategic Plan on Youth (Jugendstrategieplan)
The second Strategic Plan on Youth 2016-2020 (YSP2) "Acting respectful", the period of which has been extended for 2 years to 2016-2022, foresees 11 actions in 4 categories:
- "Strong against Addiction",
- "Promoting diversity",
- "Political education",
- "Emotions and self-perception".
These actions include cross-border action days, developing networking, promoting projects, building awareness, offer trainings and supporting mechanisms for young people and youth workers in order to develop e.g. new approaches for drug-prevention, for social inclusion, democracy, political education and participation in the youth field.
Especially the category “Political education” aims at increasing young people’s political participation.
The Youth Department of the Ministry of the German-speaking Community has the responsibility for the coordination of the Strategic Plan on Youth.
The Youth Council and Jugendinfo organise both regularly youth-targeted information campaigns about democratic rights and democratic values.
Decree on the Promotion of Youth Work of 6 December 2011 (Dekret zur Förderung der Jugendarbeit vom 06. Dezember 2011)
As mentioned in article 5 of the Decree of 6 December 2011, youth centres have to meet general criteria to be eligible for funding. Those include, amongst others:
- offer and provide activities that place the needs of the children and young people at the centre of their actions;
- take into account issues of children and young people in disadvantaged life situations, of children and young people with a migration background and children and young people with a disability;
Until 31 December 2021, they also had to implement at least four of the focuses of the youth work defined by the Government, which include
- socio-political and social education to promote interest in socio-political participation, of the ability to form critical judgements of socio-political processes and of the readiness for active involvement in socio-political processes;
- cultural youth work to promote creativity and cultural forms of expression;
- leisure-oriented youth work as a contribution to holistic development through sport, play and movement;
- media work to promote media skills for critical and conscious media use;
- intercultural youth work to promote skills and finding one’s identity;
- gender-differentiated girls’ and boys’ youth work for the promotion of equality of opportunity and breaking down gender stereotypes;
- cross-community and international youth work to promote understanding within Belgium and internationally, peace-keeping and the European identity.
When the Decree of 14 December 2021 on the Amendment of the Decree of 6 December 2011 on the Promotion of Youth Work (Dekret vom 14. Dezember 2021 zur Abänderung des Dekretes vom 06. Dezember 2011 zur Förderung der Jugendarbeit) entered into force on 1 January 2022, the requirement of implementing at least four of the focuses of the youth work was discontinued.
Strategic Plan on Youth
This was the focus theme for school year 2016-2017 in the German-speaking Community. The government decided on a corresponding action plan for pupils and trainees in all educational institutions.
The chosen theme is no accident as East Belgium too is becoming more varied. As in many places in Europe, here too we come across languages, cultures and religion from all over the world. This reality must move us to action:
- to set up cultural and faith dialogue
- to get to know and respect each other
- to deal with each other impartially
and to also do this not least in view of the increased number of refugees.
Reducing prejudice, designing better coexistence, establishing togetherness. This is at the centre for intercultural and interfaith dialogue. It is intended to promote dialogue between people from different cultures in the schools of the German-speaking Community.
The aim of Info-Integration is on the one hand to give immigrants the information and support that they need to be able to make decisions and to determine their own lives (consultations) and on the other hand to support social actors, volunteers and civil society to dismantle barriers to the equal participation of people with a migration background in the life of society. This takes place by means of the organisation of further training (also on request), involvement in various working groups and networks, dialogue with the policy makers, awareness raising, etc.)