1.4 Youth policy decision-making
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Policy making in the field of Youth can be differentiated at several levels based upon the division of power in the state. Legislation could be prepared on the ministerial level or by other legislative actors such as the Parliament or its members, but also regions and others declared by Constitution. As there is no general Youth Act, any legislative decision-making in the youth field is usually done within the Parliament or lower legislative Acts within the Government or Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.
In the House of Deputies exists a Committee for Science, Education, Culture, Youth and Sports with its Subcommittee on Youth and Leisure time activities. Youth policy focus as such is not so usual in Parliament’s discussions, according to the minutes of the parliamentary committees. Other public policy topics impacting Youth are more common also in other committees as for social affairs, justice, culture etc.
Decisions on Youth Policy are usually made on a ministerial level by the (newly re-established) Youth Department. High-level decisions are made at the top executive level of the ministry by the Director-General responsible for Youth or by the minister or its cabinet. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports is the central state authority in the field of youth.
The state delegates many of the practical issues linked to the regional or local level to regions and municipalities. They should thus create and implement their own youth policy strategies and practices.
Authorities involved in policy making
Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports
The Ministry is divided into units managed directly by the Minister and to five sections led by the Directors-General and the State Secretary.
Units directly managed by the Minister:
- Minister’s Cabinet – the Office of the Minister (spokesperson, secretary, school ombudsman)
- Sports Department (as the field of sports migrated in majority to the National Sports Agency, created in 2020),
- and several other technical departments and units,
Sections managed by the Directors-General:
I. Economic and Legislative Section – takes care of financial management or financing of regional education and directly managed organisations, with educational and other legislation, legal and administrative matters (including executive service for the Minister of Education) and awarding public contracts, as well as for the property of the Ministry.
II. Section for Education and Youth – includes that part of the educational system, which is administered mainly regionally, which means by the regions and municipalities. It contains units focused on a conception of the educational system except for higher education field, the operation of the school's register, educational content (programmes and standards) of schools from nursery to tertiary professional schools, individual, institutional and preventive education and further education of adults, as well as pedagogical workers. (Since 1st of January 2020, two previous sections on Education and Youth and Sports were cancelled and this new section was created including the youth issues).
III. Section of Higher Education, Science and Research – focuses on the area of higher education institutions and their financing and the area of research and development including financial support, research policy and international cooperation
IV. International and EU Affairs and Operational Programmes Section – coordinates and administers international and Eu affairs, Operational Programmes of the European Union, i.e. Education for Competitiveness Operational Programme, Research and Development for Innovations Operational Programme and recently Research, Development and Education Operational Programme
V. IT and public procurement section – deals with public administration affairs and internal issues, as well as with statistical surveys and data gathering, preparation of analyses and information strategies
The actual execution of many administrative functions was transferred to the authority of the bodies of the region, or the municipality.
Department for Youth (Odbor pro mládež)
Youth agenda is managed by the newly re-established Department for Youth.
It is composed of two units:
- Youth Policy Unit - responsible for policy development and
- Leisure-based and Non-formal Education Unit - responsible mainly for funding.
The policy development is supported by the Council for Youth, non-formal and leisure-based education. (Rada pro mládež, neformální a zájmové vzdělávání), established in 2022 as a consultative body of the minister.
- Ministry of Health
- Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs
- Ministry of Interior
- Ministry of Culture
- Ministry of Environment
- Ministry of Industry and Trade
- Government authorities
Bodies in Parliament responsible for the field of Youth:
Czech Parliament is composed of two Chambers – the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. In both Chambers, there is a Committee with the competence for the field of Youth.
- Committee on Science, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic (Výbor pro vědu, vzdělávání, kulturu, mládež a tělovýchovu)
- Within the Chamber of Deputies until 2013 there was also the specific Subcommittee on Youth and Sport (Podvýbor pro mládež a sport). After the elections 2017 and with the new House of Deputies independent Subcommittee on Youth and Leisure-time activities (Podvýbor pro mládež a volnočasové aktivity) was set up which was re-established also in the current Chamber of Deputies in late 2021 after the election.
- Within the Chamber of Deputies, there are also youth-issues related bodies such as Subcommittee on foster care and Subcommittee for crisis situations in Family. Many of the Youth sector issues are also discussed in other committees as Constitutional, Budgetary, Foreign affairs etc.
- Committee for Education, Science, Culture, Human Rights and Petitions of the Senate of the Czech Republic (Výbor pro vzdělávání, vědu, kulturu, lidská práva a petice Senátu ČR)
Regional public authorities with competencies in the field of Youth
The territory of the Czech Republic is divided by constitutional law no. 129/2000 Sb. on Act on regions into regions (higher units of territorial self-government), consisting of municipalities (lower units of territorial self-government). There are 14 regions, and they possess two jurisdictions
- Independent (self-governing)
- Delegated (state administration)
Public administration is provided by the regional authority, which is divided into departments and sections for particular spheres of activity. Regions have to set up a Regional Committee for Education, Youth and Sport according to the §78.
The bodies coordinating the delegated activities of the regional authorities are the respective ministries.
Roles and competencies of regional authorities in the sphere of youth policy
Within the scope of their independent jurisdiction (self-governing), regional authorities can issue their own Decrees, usually focused on a particular issue.
The main responsibilities of Regions within state Youth Policy are:
- Elaboration, assessment and complementing of long-term objectives in the sphere of education and development of an educational system in the region
- Presenting the long-term objectives and an annual report for the previous year to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic and to the Board of Representatives of the region
- Dealing with the topics brought up by school councils operating at primary schools
- Cooperation with the Czech School Inspectorate (Česká školní inspekce)
- Performance of the tasks ensuing from the strategic documents of the region in the spheres of free-time activities, physical education and sports, crime prevention, and activities aimed at protection against misuse of drugs, at the problems of national minorities and the prevention of socially undesirable phenomena
- Ensuring conditions for the integration of disabled pupils into ordinary schools and educational institutions
- Creating conditions for the development of free-time activities for children and youth. They should cooperate with non-governmental, non-profit organisations in implementing the state policy related to the young generation and sports
- Responsibility for organising competitions announced by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic
- Responsibility for implementing the funding programmes of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic in the sphere of the integration of the Romani community, education in the languages of national minorities and multicultural upbringing
Local public authorities with competencies in the youth field
Municipalities have both their independent jurisdiction (self-governing) and delegated jurisdiction (state administration). Public administration is ensured mainly by the municipal authority, which can be divided into departments and sections for particular spheres of activity (Act no. 128/2000 Sb, on municipalities). Within the scope of their independent jurisdiction (self-governing), municipal authorities can issue their Decrees, usually focused on a particular issue.
Other institutional actors
Czech Council of Children and Youth (Česká rada dětí a mládeže, hereafter 'CRDM')
CRDM is a democratic, voluntary association, independent of any political parties or movements. The CRDM was established in June 1998 by eight organisations of children and youth, and as a national youth council in the Czech Republic, it is a reliable partner of governmental administration. The CRDM represents the interests of its members towards domestic and foreign bodies, organisations and institutions.
It is composed of around 100 non-governmental children and youth organisations with more than 216 000 individual members – the organisations range from small to big; 9 regional councils of children and youth are members of the CRDM as well. The CRDM respects the sovereignty and independence of all its member organisations in compliance with their statutes and has no supervisory or senior power towards these, but represents them in dealing with authorities, organisations and institutions both at the national level and abroad.
The mission is to promote conditions for quality of life and the overall development of children and young people in society and the state. The CRDM fulfils its mission by supporting non-formal education and activities of its members, especially by creating legal, economic, social and cultural conditions suitable for their activities.
The Council exercises the assignments and powers it is charged and endowed with by its members through the Council's bodies.
Regional councils of children and youth
Regional councils associate children and youth organisations on a regional level; they serve as places for promoting individual associations and other organisations and provide regional authorities with advice on out-of-school upbringing and education. In 2020 there were 9 Regional Youth Councils active.
The following regional councils of Children and Youth exist:
- Rada dětí a mládeže hlavního města Prahy - http://www.rdmp.cz/
- Krajská rada dětí a mládeže Karlovarska - http://krdmk.cz/
- Plzeňská krajská rada dětí a mládeže - https://www.pkrdm.cz/ (in 2022 won the price on Non-profit of the year by the Non-profit foundation)
- RADAMBUK - Jihočeská rada dětí a mládeže - https://www.radambuk.cz/
- Rada dětí a mládeže kraje Vysočina - https://www.rdmkv.cz/
- Rada dětí a mládeže Královéhradeckého kraje, z. s. - http://www.rdmkhk.cz/
- Jihomoravská krajská rada dětí a mládeže - https://www.jrdm.cz/
- Rada dětí a mládeže Moravskoslezského kraje - RADAMOK - http://www.radamok.cz/
- SPEKTRUM – Krajská rada dětí a mládeže Zlínského kraje - http://www.spektrumzl.cz/
Children and Youth Associations
Non-profit organisations engaged in work with children and youth represent a necessary complement to school facilities for extra-curricular education. There is a vast plurality of NGOs working with children and young people in the Czech Republic. The tradition dates back to the 19th century when active participation in different associations and societies was an essential part of the social movement that led to the creation of an independent Czechoslovakia.
The state supports NGOs' work to a significant degree, however regions and municipalities also often have their financial schemes, and the private sector is too usually supportive to the activities of youth organisations. Associations thus often have motives to influence the Youth Policies.
Youth Associations related to political parties
The experience with the exploitation of children and youth for the benefit of a totalitarian political regime resulted in a caution against any connection between political institutions and children and youth associations after 1990. By the end of the 1990s, however, youth organisations declaring their adherence to a political orientation (conservative, liberal, social democratic, and Christian democratic) were formed as a consequence of the creation of new political parties and movements. Small political youth organisations represent Young European Democrats with markedly fewer members (about 100), and membership of youth organisations related to other political bodies is even lower. By the end of 2015, the youth wings of political parties formed a common Association for strengthening dialogue among them. Since then it also follows that they have started to become more active in discussing topics related to young people, and not mainly to political ideologies as was the main trend earlier. Some of them are also members of the National Youth Council. However, their activity on this platform is rather low.
Youth Information Centres
The Youth Information System Development Framework for the Czech Republic was completed in 2008 and since that undertook further development. Since 2020 the state support and coordination was cancelled.
Youth information centres are places that provide, on an anonymous basis and free of charge, complex and up-to-date information on various aspects of young people’s life according to their demands and needs, proportionately to their age and capacities. The information shall be provided in compliance with the European Youth Information Charter and the Principles for Online Youth Information. The target groups of the youth information centres are, above all, young people up to 30 years of age. The YICs guarantee equal access to information for all young people.
The total numbers of YICs registered in the Czech Republic were 40 in 2008. By 15th of September 2019, only 16 were certified by the state. They are run mainly by school facilities for leisure-based education and by NGOs.
There was the National Youth Information Centre (Národní informační centrum pro mládež) as a state unit under the National Institute for Education, Education Counselling Centre and Centre for Continuing Education of Teachers (NÚV), but since 1st of January 2020, it was cancelled as the NÚV was transformed into the National Pedagogy Institutet and the National Information Youth Centre was not transferred to the new institution.
Information centres were coordinating Czech national activities of the European Youth Information and Counselling Agency (ERYICA). Since 2020 there is no Czech Representation there.
Apart from this official system, there was and still is also an alternative Association on supporting the development of the Youth Information Centres which has its own strategy and goals on development. 8 Youth Information Centres were members in 2020.
Since 2012, in response to the need for the creation, implementation and evaluation of Youth Strategy 2020, the Department for Youth of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports was coordinating 12 working groups focusing on the main topics in the youth field:
- Rights of children and youth
- Information for youth
- Leisure-based and non-formal education
- Leisure time
- Youth mobility
- Employment and employability
- Lifestyle and health
- Young people with fewer opportunities
- Media and culture
Furthermore, a cross-sectional working group of youth researchers should have operated across all the themes.
With the abolishment of the National Institute for Children and Youth by the end of 2013, the coordination of these working groups became overloaded and also due to low activity of their members, they were not working anymore.
In 2014, the National Working Group for the Structured Dialogue with Youth was set up and coordinated by the National Youth Council. The activities of this Group widely adopted the operation of the ministry's participation working group.
In 2015, a small group on linking youth work and social work was established to support better inclusion of young people and to facilitate the benefits and activities of providers focused on social work as well as youth work.
In 2015, a new working group on hate issues met within the framework of Ministry thematic working groups.
At the same time, other themes are tackled on a national level with separate Policy strategies with high importance and a direct link to Young people. Those are mentioned in respective thematic Chapters of the Youthwiki.
In 2018 The Youth Department of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports set up a new cross-sectoral group on the evaluation of the state Youth Strategy, which operated in 2019 and was abolished when the Youth Department was dismissed from the Ministry since 2020.
Since 2014 there has been no specific National Youth Agency in the Czech Republic. Until the end of 2013, the National Institute of Children and Youth existed under the direction of the Ministry's Youth department. The Institute was set up in 1953, and during its life, it changed name several times as well as its scope and competences. It was the central State Agency on Youth. Since the abolition of the Institute, its agenda has split among other public Agencies under the direction of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, however only in limited scope, and the direct management of the Youth Department was lost. The cooperation is thus instead in a bilateral manner. Since 2014 The public agencies dealing with some aspects of Youth were:
The National Institute for further Education (Národní institut pro další vzdělávání) for Youth Strategy issues, Youth research due to the National Register of Research on Children and Youth and Leisure-based and Non-formal education and its connection to formal education.
Since 1st of January 2020 both of these institutions merged in National Pedagogy Institute (NPI) and in 2021/2022 new department for Youth, Non-formal and Leisure-Time Activities was created with its residence in Olomouc City.
The Centre for International Cooperation in Education (Dům zahraniční spolupráce) for the Erasmus+, European Solidarity Corps and Eurodesk.
There are no specific mechanisms dedicated to monitoring and evaluating the Youth Policy and the Youth Strategy, as there is no dedicated Youth Strategy. However, this is changing in 2023, when the new Youth Strategy should be developed. The body in charge would be the Council for Youth, non-formal and leisure-based education of MEYS.
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports has its own internal mechanisms, a partial role could be seen by the activities of the Czech Council of Children and Youth (National Youth Council), the parliamentary bodies and the new department at the National Pedagogy institute of the Czech Republic.