4.3 Strategy for the social inclusion of young people
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There is not a national strategy on the social inclusion exclusively of young people. However, the Strategy for Social Policy 2014-2020 (Στρατηγική για την Κοινωνική Πολιτική) targets the whole population of the country, which also includes young people. This strategy is the government's decree, which outlines the social priorities of the Republic of Cyprus for the period 2014-2020.
Moreover, one of the 8 action fields of the National Youth Strategy (Εθνική Στρατηγική για τη Νεολαία) is Social Inclusion. The National Youth Strategy was adopted in May 2017 by the Council of Ministers and it covers the period from 2017 until 2022. The Strategy is cross – sectorial hence it incorporates all the policies that concern young people.
The focus of the State's effort through the Strategy for Social Policy is to address the social impact of the economic crisis by building a strong and efficient social state, achieving economic recovery, citizens' prosperity and rapid and balanced development in conditions of stability, justice and social cohesion. In this context, the key objective of the Republic of Cyprus is to introduce viable social welfare and health systems as well as to preserve and empower the family, society and local authorities in order to enable the citizens to respond to their roles.
Based on these, the goals of the Strategy are:
- Promote child welfare: This goal is geared to improve public investment,
- Reform of the Welfare System,
- Active inclusion, with ensuring adequate income, integration into the labor market and access to quality and affordable services,
- Long-term care,
- Effective Governance.
The Strategy identifies children, people with disabilities, the elderly who need long-term care and people trapped in welfare benefits as specific target groups within the whole population. However, the strategy mentions in different parts of the document several groups identified as at-risk of social exclusion, such as the unemployed, people at risk for poverty, young NEETs and immigrants.
What’s more, a main priority of the National Youth Strategy (NYS) is to promote equality and the respect of human rights so as to eliminate social discrimination against young people. In order to achieve this aim, a culture that encourages social inclusion should be created.
Social inclusion allows all young people to enjoy their social rights freely, regardless of their background. At the same time, it is a dynamic process, which allows all social groups to participate in a dialogue that aims at social peace.
Goal 1 of the NYS: Ensure equality and respect of human rights.
Goal 2 of the NYS: Create a mindset that promotes social inclusion.
The top priorities of the National Youth Strategy for achieving the above goals are the following ones:
- Provide constant information to young people on the rights of groups with fewer opportunities or groups of people who might be threatened with social exclusion.
- Develop actions that contribute to social inclusion and to the participation of young people with fewer opportunities or who are threatened with social exclusion.
- Develop actions that contribute to reducing discrimination among G/C and T/C youth.
- Promote actions for social inclusion and against social exclusion in the school environment.
- Promote actions and programs that will encourage and develop social participation for groups that are threatened with social exclusion (i.e. through special equipment, structured environment guidelines, etc.).
- Develop creative expression, arts and foreign language learning as means of diversity, tolerance and respect.
- Encourage the participation of people with fewer opportunities in mobility programs for skills and abilities development.
The top-level authority responsible for the implementation, coordination and monitoring of the Strategy for Social Policy is the Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance and particularly the by the Social Welfare Services (Υπηρεσίες Κοινωνικής Ευημερίας). The strategy is not integrated in any other national strategy fighting exclusion. So far, there is not information about evidence-based monitoring/assessment/evaluation of the implementation of the strategy.
The national coordinator for the drafting, and monitoring of the implementation of the National Youth Strategy is the Youth Board of Cyprus. For the implementation of the Strategy a Cross-sectorial Working Group on Youth is established in order to ensure constant coordination and close cooperation among all governmental institutions that deal with youth issues. The Cross-sectorial Working Group has developed the first 3-year Action Plan (2017-2019) which was monitored via regular progress reports coordinated by the Youth Board of Cyprus. The first Progress Report for the period 2017-2019 revealed that more than 26 actions have been implemented or are still in action, aiming at young people’s social inclusion. Briefly, some of the actions can be summarized to the following ones: programs to empower employment of disabled youth, creation of a new center to host unaccompanied minors, teaching of social skills, foster care programs for minors, programs for empowering inclusion of young people coming from Third Countries, etc.
The strategies have not undergone major revisions/updates.