10.4 Quality and innovation in youth work
There is no national or regional level of quality assurance in youth standards but a local youth organization, the PRONI Centre for Youth Development, has signed agreements with ten municipalities and cities in BiH where those local communities (Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Mostar, Bihac, Cazin, Prijedor, Bosanski Petrovac, Bijeljina, Trebinje and BD BiH) accept the PRONI Centre quality assurance mechanisms in youth work as their quality assurance standards.
The PRONI Centre Quality Assured Community Youth Work (QACYW) definitions:
The PRONI Brcko considers youth work as a planned program of education or activities designed for the purpose of aiding and enhancing the personal and social development of young people through their voluntary participation with aim to engage young people with society and bring about social change in an unequal society.
Community youth work provides community-based activities for young people in a variety of settings throughout local communities, other CSO-s, government agencies, parents and volunteers.
QACYW is youth work that is aimed to offer the best quality of the service to young people using Quality Assurance of Community Youth Work in Society (OKORUZ- in Bosnian language).
OKORUZ is a quality assurance tool developed by the PRONI Centre and other partner’s organizations that has three main functions:
- To provide a mechanism for those working within the youth clubs, and those working in partnership with the youth clubs, to assess the quality of their interventions with young people;
- To enable youth workers and volunteers to monitor the impact of the services upon the lives of young people and identify areas for improvement;
- To enable the youth work managers to monitor and evaluate the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of services to young people.
OKORUZ will enable the youth clubs/youth NGOs to:
- Review youth work practice;
- Review the standards of achievement of young people;
- Review efficiency and effectiveness with which local resources are managed;
- Identify strengths and weaknesses;
- Propose key issues for change/action.
Principles underlying the OKORUZ:
- Young people being involved at every level of the Quality Assurance Process;
- Quality Assurance process is developmental;
- Linked to the human rights-based principals.
The NGO Perpetuum Mobile has developed quality assurance standards in youth centres and has been using this methodology since 2011. Since 2013 the youth centres in RS have formed M.O.C.A.R.T. - Network of Youth Centres for Animation, Development and Training. This network also uses the same quality assurance standards developed by the Perpetuum Mobile that consist of four categories: program standards, technical standards, human resource standards and ethical standards.
Research and evidence supporting youth work
Participative youth work
There are two existing models of participative youth work that are active in BiH and those are youth clubs and youth centres activities, where young people can come and participate in local, national or international youth work activities. Two main organizations organizing participative youth work are the Perpetuum Mobile that works with the 27 youth centres in 26 municipalities, and the PRONI Centre for Youth Development, which works with more than 30 youth clubs in 12 municipalities.
- Youth centres:
Youth centres are "an accessible and adapted space for young people in which young people are continuously provided with activities and programs based on methods and principles of non-formal education with the aim of developing young people into conscious, responsible community members and creating conditions for their full potential." (RS Law on Youth Organisation, Official Gazette 1/12 of 5 January 2012)
Youth centres offer an alternative to youth in BiH that faces a number of challenges such as high national unemployment (60%); extracurricular time that young people mostly spend with little or no money on the street which makes them vulnerable to passivity, depression, drug abuse, unprotected sex and participation in criminal activities; traditional theoretical education offered by schools in BiH generally does not meet the needs of the modern labour market; devoting little or no time to issues faced by youth in BiH such as: peer violence, internal interpersonal relationships, sexual and reproductive health, etc. through formal education.
In order to ensure quality and institutionally recognized daily work with youth, our work actively advocates for the standardization of the work of youth centres in BiH. The existence of standards will ensure the development of quality services of existing youth centres; improvement of program activities, technical, personnel and ethical standards; regulating the status of youth centres when applying for competitions of both domestic and international funds; and finally, increasing youth participation in society.
In 2011, the Perpetuum Mobile conducted the first survey of youth centres in BiH - Youth Centres - holders of youth work in order to assess the situation regarding the form of youth centres, their capacities, status and impact. The research included 27 youth centres from 26 municipalities and showed that:
Youth centres are recognized as places that can bring together the largest number of young people, where young people can develop their full potential through socially oriented, educational and recreational programs, while increasing their ability to actively participate in society.
- Youth clubs:
Youth clubs are a social and recreational space intended for diverse young people to come together, both as volunteer group leaders and as participants in activities. Youth clubs organize and support activities that support the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development of youth, while also enabling young people to experience success, leadership, joy, recognition of talents, and interethnic friendships.
These clubs provide young people with a space where they can get involved in different kinds of activities, such as: music, theatre, sports, cultural activities, seminars, trainings and workshops. These activities foster learning, discussion, bonding, and exchange with youth from other cultures and ethnic groups. Through activities and exchanges within BiH, the Balkans, and other parts of Europe, youth capacity for leadership, advocacy, initiative, critical thinking, and inclusion expand, from a space that is largely integrated.
Youth Club workshops can include a variety of topics, the primary objective being to bring youth together for integrated learning opportunities. Some ideas for workshop topics include: recognition and prevention of violence in youth communities; improving communication through the tool of storytelling; inclusion and breaking of prejudice specific to Roma people; art/film classes, etc. The workshops can be conducted as a series, which brings together the same small group of youth on a monthly or weekly basis to develop deeper relationships to one another through a thorough exploration of the topic of choice.
Participants in youth clubs can be given tasks that are limited, measurable and that expand or develop their skills and experiences. This can include co-facilitating a workshop, conducting outreach to new participants, and expanding social media presence.
To make the workshops accessible to all, the non-formal education methodology can be used, as a participatory and flexible approach. In line with this approach, the youth participants can and should be consulted in developing programming so that they feel valued and that their interests are heard.
All youth should participate on a voluntary basis.
When considering a venue, youth clubs need also to be “felt” like youth clubs, as this is a space designed specifically for young people. This means the decoration of premises with posters about other youth events and projects.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the digital youth work was not that present in BiH. Situation has changed once the Covid-19 measures forced youth workers and youth to stay home. Lot of organizations have managed to adopt and start to realise youth work activities online using the available communications tools. There is not much available data and some organizations like the PRONI Centre for Youth Development and Institute for Youth Development KULT have managed to implement certain activities and get data on youth perception during Covid-19 online.