4.4 Inclusive programmes for young people
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There are several programmes initiated by the ministries responsible for the areas of work in the youth social inclusion domain.
Since the Youth Field Development Plan 2021-2035 (Noortevaldkonna arengukava 2021-2035), the central policy document in the area of youth, has been adopted in August 2021 and will be in force until 2035, more detailed Action Plans, including the provision of programmes, will follow.
In 2019, the Programme agreement of Local Development Programme with Estonia was signed until 2024. The programme is operated by the Ministry of Social Affairs. The programme funding (excluding co-financing) amounts to €21 million and is funded through the EEA Grants (€10.6 million) and Norway Grants (€7.4 million).
The local development programme addresses challenges in Estonia related to the wellbeing of children and youth, gender-based violence, the health care system and revitalization of cultural heritage. The programme will address early school leaving, limited services and support available for vulnerable children and youth e.g. in the justice and education systems and shortage of extrajudicial alternatives to sanctions such as social and educational programmes that could hinder reoffending.
Related to the welfare of children and youth, two pre-defined projects will be supported which will establish a mediation system and develop a specialised juvenile justice approach to support the wellbeing of vulnerable children and youth. Two open calls will support projects developing models for integrated services at local level and to pilot measures to support transition of disadvantaged children and youth across school levels from education to the labour market, including smart solutions in youth work. Finally, two small grants schemes will implement and raise awareness of restorative justice measures for youth and develop and pilot career orientation programmes.
Since 2015 the national programme Noortekohtumised (Youth meetings) supports 11-19 years old young people living in Estonia from diverse ethnic backgrounds to develop and undertake common projects, based on their common interests. Youth will be able to set up contacts with peers from different ethnic groups all over the country and self-initiate cooperation and meetings with duration of 3-6 days with each other, supported by their teachers, youth workers, also with training and coaching support from the programme coordination.
The programme is managed by Education and Youth Board. The Impact Assessment of the programme (2019, available in Estonian) confirmed the positive influence on participating youth and their supporting adults, with enlarged (inter-) cultural competence and greater interest towards intercultural cooperation and self-initiatives, entrepreneurship.
During 2015- 2023 Estonian Operational Programme for EU Cohesion Policy Funds special investment priority “Active inclusion, including with a view to promoting equal opportunities and active participation, and improving employability” is implemented with specific objective of “Inclusion and improvement of the employability of young people, incl. those at risk of exclusion“, aimed at:
- improving access to youth work services and engaging youth with risk for exclusion;
- strengthening the competence of youth and enlargening their contacts with work life;
- launching support mechanisms for NEET youth;
- further developing the knowledge and understanding of youth and the impact of services targeting youth.
The programme combines a range of activities (f.ex innovation programmes to local municipalities, individual support services to NEET youth etc), coordinated by the Education and Youth Board.
Earlier in Estonia significant developments in the area of youth social inclusion have been supported by various programmes f.ex “Children and Youth at Risk” (Riskilapsed- ja noored), during the period 2009-2014, extended until April 2017.
There is a dedicated funding allocated by the Government for the programmes supporting the inclusion of young people. The programmes are in line with prioritised goals in strategies related to fighting social exclusion of youth.
For programmes described above, incl. Programme agreement of Local Development Programme with Estonia, Noortekohtumised (Youth meetings), “Inclusion and improvement of the employability of young people, incl. those at risk of exclusion“ specific funding and co-financing principles (if applicable) have been defined.
Since the Youth Field Development Plan 2021-2035 (Noortevaldkonna arengukava 2021-2035), the central policy document in the area of youth, has been adopted in August 2021 and will be in force until 2035, more detailed Action Plans, including the provision of programmes, will follow, with funding tbc.
All the programmes described are subject to the detailed multi-layered quality assurance mechanism established by the financial instruments of these programmes. The programmes are also subject to quality indicators as defined either in the national Youth Field Development Plan 2021-2035 (Noortevaldkonna arengukava 2021-2035) and/or operational instructions (f.ex for the programme targeted at NEET youth, both the base indicators 2013 as well as target indicators 2023 have been defined). Further quality indicators and mechanisms are defined in the oprational programmes.