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In general, the entire public administration system in Estonia uses the same framework of evidence-based policymaking. There is also a framework for evidence-based youth policy. Identification of needs for drafting and planning, implementation and evaluation of public policy measures targeting young people follows the same rules as other sectors.
Assuring the quality of legislation in Estonia is the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice. The ministry has developed regulations and recommendations to support evidence-based policymaking. The evaluation of the expected impact of a legislative act constitutes the backbone of evidence-based policy processes, though this is not the only aspect that needs to be taken into account. The following documents have been adopted to support evaluation and evidence-based policymaking in general:
- Rules for Good Legislative Practice and Legislative Drafting,
- a form to initiate a discussion on drafting a legislative act,
- guidelines for impact evaluation.
In the youth field, in Estonia, evidence and knowledge-based approach were implemented since the beginning. Already first Youth Work Act from 1999 declared the importance of youth research and ensured state financing for youth research. On an operational level, Estonian Youth Work Concept 2011 and the first Youth Field Development Plan 2001-2004 stressed the importance of knowledge and initiated concrete measures for development in this area in the youth field. Modern policy planning has been supported by the national youth monitoring system Noorteseire initiated in 2010. The youth monitor helps to map the situation of the young people in related policy areas to create a holistic picture of the youth. Starting from 2019, an innovative data tool called Juhtimislauadhas been launched in cooperation between the Education and Youth Board (successor of the former Estonian Youth Work Centre) and the Statistics Estonia which is a governmental agency under the administration of the Ministry of Finance. The main task of the Statistics Estonia is to provide public institutions, business and research circles, international organizations and individuals with reliable and objective information on the economic, demographic, social and environmental situation and trends in Estonia. In producing statistics, the Statistics Estonia is guided by the Official Statistics Act. The new youth monitoring platform Juhtimislauad provides up-to-date data on various issues and target groups related to youth work and youth policy, like youth (un-)employment, entrepreneurship, education attendance, participation etc.
The National Youth Strategy, the Youth Field Development Plan 2021-2035, highlights broad-based knowledge as one of the principles for the organisation of youth policy and youth work.
It states that knowledge in the youth sector is based on the outcomes of analyses and scientific research, practical know-how acquired in daily work, and the input and contribution of young people as the experts of their lives. A synthesis of all the above mentioned provides the necessary knowledge base to measure performance, develop policies of the subject field and achieve progress. Coordinated action is required in the areas of systematic data collection from participants of the sector, monitoring of the situation, organisation of surveys and analyses, and cooperation (including with scientists) for a comprehensive monitoring and analysis system that offers information about the lives of young people and the status of provided youth services necessary for decision-making and analysis of meaningful connections for youth policy.
The development of youth policy measures and services must be based on monitoring the situation of young people and analysing their needs. Decisions must be based on the best, most relevant and contemporary knowledge. Youth services must be subject to consistent collection of information, their implementation must be monitored and outcomes must be evaluated. Comprehensive and reliable knowledge must form the basis of decision-making on all levels and in all areas of the youth sector.
Parts of the youth monitoring and analysis system:
- data management of the sector, i.e. data creation and collection, data availability and analysis of the status of young people and the services provided to them;
- monitoring the execution of youth services and activities; analysis of quality, outcomes and impact;
- youth sector research and development activity for the development of youth-oriented services and policies.
Each policy field in Estonia works in its own way for the connection between policy and research in general. (e.g. institutes, studies, analysis, department of the ministry). In the context of policymaking, every ministry is responsible for carrying out research in its area of responsibility to assure that policymaking is evidence-based. In the youth field, the Ministry of Education and Research and Education and Youth Board manage the youth monitoring system Noorteseire and the research-practice-decision co-operation triangle. Starting from 2019, an innovative data tool called Juhtimislauadhas been launched in cooperation between the Education and Youth Board and Statistics Estonia. Considering the importance of the knowledge-based approach and new ambitions in the Youth Field Development Plan 2021-2035, in this regard, management and development of the national monitoring system were moved to the Youth and Talent Policy department of the Ministry of Education and Research.
Education and Youth Board has contracts with Tartu University and Tallinn University in order to develop new models for organizing better youth work, including the fields of participation and exclusion, and organizing youth work on the local level.
Education and Youth Board runs a website Noorteseire (Youth Monitor). This website gives an overview of studies related to youth, and some basic demographics, health, criminal behavior, education and labor market, youth work participation, social activism and leisure time spending preferences data on young people. Most of the data presented there come from Statistics Estonia and some from other sources. The data was collected mostly annually, except for some researches that are conducted every 2 or 4 years. Since 2019, there is a new initiative called Juhtimislauad, that gives an overview of the situation of young people and illustrates the data.
As a part of the youth monitoring system Noorteseire, a yearbook has been annually published starting from 2009. The yearbook contains two sections:
- a statistical overview of the youth population in the country;
- an in-depth analysis or research of a specific theme.
Throughout the years the focal themes of the yearbook have been the following:
- 2009 – Youth Monitor;
- 2010 – Youth and labor market;
- 2011 – Youth and youth work;
- 2012 – Youth and social inclusion;
- 2013 – Evaluation of the impact of youth work;
- 2014/2015 – Young people with special needs and youth work;
- 2016 - Non-formal and informal learning;
- 2018 - Participation of young people in decision making;
- 2019/2020 - The unrevealed parts of young people's lives.
There are regular EU youth reports submitted to the European Commission. The Statistics Estonia issues from time to time a general overview of the situation of children and young people at the national level. There are annual reports of the Youth Monitor and Youth Field Programme which are compiled by the Ministry of Education and Research in cooperation with the Education and Youth Board. All reports are compiled in the first quarter of the year and published on the website of the Ministry of Education and Research.
Other data regarding the youth population
During the last decade, the importance of the registers containing data concerning population, incl. youth, has increased significantly because the latest national population and housing census taking place in 2020/2021 being conducted entirely register-based.
Some examples of the registers and databases that contain information on young people that is relevant for assessing the situation of youth in society and for policymaking:
- Estonian Education Information System EEIS (Eesti Hariduse Infosüsteem EHIS) - a state database holding data about the education system. It covers preschool, general, vocational, higher, hobby, and adult education for students, pedagogical staff, institutions, curricula, school education certificates, and juvenile committees. The register is maintained by the Ministry of Education and Research. There is another database HaridusSilm ("Eye of Education") which visualizes the information contained in EEIS.
- Social Services and Benefits Register STAR (Sotsiaalteenuste ja -toetuste andmeregister STAR) - a state database, which is used for carrying out case-based social work at the municipal level. The register is maintained by the Ministry of Social Affairs.
- Register of Employment (Töötamise register) - a database of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund (Eesti Töötukassa) which contains personalized information on the employment status of every person.
- Population Register (Rahvastikuregister) - a database that unites the main personal data on Estonian citizens, citizens of the European Union who are registered residents in Estonia, and aliens who have been granted with a residence permit or right of residence in Estonia. The register is maintained and developed by the Ministry of Interior.
There are specific budgetary allocations for research in the youth field each year (youth monitor, studies and research, development). Since the adoption of the Youth Sector Development Plan 2021-2035 on 12.08.2021, more operational perspectives, incl. youth research and monitooring, are still to be developed (tbc).