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Estonia

Estonia

5. Participation

5.5 National strategy to increase youth participation

On this page
  1. Existence of a national strategy to increase young people's political and civil society participation
  2. Scope and contents
  3. Responsible authority for the implementation of the strategy
  4. Monitoring and evaluation
  5. Revisions/ Updates

Existence of a national strategy to increase young people's political and civil society participation

A specific National Strategy on Youth participation does not exist but Youth participation is one of the underlying concepts and one of the strategic goals of the Youth Field Development Plan 2021-2035 (Noortevaldkonna arengukava 2021-2035), adopted 12.08.2021. Namely the strategic goal nr 2 focuses on participation and aims that the protection of youth rights in the state is consistent and active youth participation is supported.

While youth participation has always been one of the core pillars of national youth strategies in Estonia, the measures for better involvement of youth into policy making are taken even further with the current strategy highlighting the opportunities by:

  • Creating the prerequisites for an increased trust in and commitment to the state by young people;
  • Ensuring that young people can express their opinion and heard out on all levels of governance;
  • Empowering young people to be active citizens.

Operational programmes directing the implementation of these strategic goals are under development (tbc).

Scope and contents

The Youth Sector Development Plan 2021-2035 outlines the main strategic goals in the field of youth, incl. the strategic goal no. 2: participation – the protection of youth rights in the state is consistent and active youth participation is supported.

The strategy also defines the underlying principles for services and policy approaches concerning youth, incl. focus on ensuring meaningful active inclusion and participation of young people in weighing options, making decisions and implementing them. Young people must have the ability to make choices, show initiative and create solutions regarding important challenges by receiving enough information, support and feedback. Young people must also have their say in the planning, design, implementation and evaluation of services intended for them. This is one way to empower young people in their development into active and caring citizens.

The strategy highlights that the way how young people perceive their inclusion and their sense of belonging depend on whether their thoughts are heard and responded to at home, at school and in the community, whether they have a sense of belonging with their peers and whether they are included in meaningful activities within the community. It is stressed that young people need the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to participate in the society and express their opinion and also to cope with major changes in the society. Participation opportunities help to avoid social apathy or the want and need for radical self-expression. To increase participation, the rights of young people must be protected and their civic participation, including their age-appropriate involvement in representative democracy, must be supported. This is the foundation for the development of a strong civil society and the survival of democracy.

In terms of how these strategic goals are foreseen to be approached, the strategy brings up 3 areas of attention:

  1. Creating the prerequisites for an increased trust in and commitment to the state by young people:
    • valuing and increasing the awareness about youth rights, including the right for free time and the right to make decision about time use;
    • providing young people with opportunities to use the public space and by including young people in the design process of public spaces and services intended for them;
    • harnessing the potential of the youth in developing the state (inclusion in national defence, developing attitudes and providing participation opportunities in the areas of the environment, safety, security, integration, and so on).
  2. Ensuring that young people can express their opinion and heard out on all levels of governance:
    • increasing knowledge about the actual needs and circumstances of young people that serves as the prerequisite of youth participation via the youth sector monitoring and analysis system;
    • providing young people with the prerequisites of developing the habits and skills for self-expression (including through the development of school democracy on all levels of education and enabling creative self-expression through hobby education for young people);
    • providing opportunities to express one’s opinion by simple and convenient means (while also ensuring the representation of risk groups and young people living abroad and the participation of young people in the development of solutions supporting participation);
    • giving young people feedback about how their opinion was taken into account, showing the actual impact of their participation and thereby increasing their motivation to express their opinion;
    • increasing capacity for inclusion in ministries and local governments, for example by creating area- based solutions and responsibility networks for including young people and by training the decision- makers and officials;
    • creating a advisory group at the Prime Minister’s office and a youth roundtable at the President’s office to give young people increased opportunities to express their opinion.
  3. Empowering young people to be active citizens:
    • ensuring young people has opportunities to partake in representative democracy in order to support growth in electoral turnout;
    • supporting youth organisations and councils in including young people and ensuring the collection and dissemination of best inclusion practices;
    • supporting youth initiatives on local level;
    • supporting youth participation and meaningful contribution in the community (including themanagement of NGOs and volunteer work).

There are 4 indicators that will measure the results:

  • Number of participation formats
  • Ratio (%) of local governments out of all local governments that have a functioning youth council
  • Ratio (%) of 18–26-year-old candidates out of the total number of candidates at the local government council elections
  • Ratio (%) of 15–26-year-olds who have participated in organised volunteer work

Operational programmes directing the implementation of these strategic goals are under development (tbc).

Responsible authority for the implementation of the strategy

The development plan is approved by the Government of the Republic after discussing the document at the Riigikogu. The implementation of the development plan is coordinated by the Ministry of Education and Research with all relevant ministries contributing within their scope.

The implementation of the development plan is based on inclusive management and organisation of youth policy. It is ensured that youth policy has a multidisciplinary approach and is based on understanding the real circumstances and needs of young people and the inclusion of young people. The management of the area is based on a youth sector monitoring and analysing system which ensures the efficiency, impact analysis and development monitoring of youth sector services. A consistent evaluation of a youth-centred policy development is organised in cooperation with the Estonian National Youth Council.

The implementation of the development plan and relevant reporting is supported by a steering committee. The work of the committee is led by the Ministry of Education and Research and the committee includes representatives from the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Finance and the Government Office. Additionally, an important role is taken by youth representatives; strategic partners of the Ministry of Education and Research and experts of relevant areas are also included. The committee advises the minister, supports the consideration of the connections and impact between different areas when implementing the development plan, analyses reports and evaluates progress towards the development plan’s goals. The steering committee gives recommendations for the introduction, amendment and conclusion of programmes on the basis of related progress reports and provides an evaluation regarding the amendment and conclusion of the development plan.

Following the adoption of the national youth strategy, operational programmes are developed, with key responsibility shared between the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research, Department of Youth and Talent Policy and the Education and Youth Board.

Monitoring and evaluation

The monitoring and evaluation of the Youth Field Development Plan 2021-2035 (Noortevaldkonna arengukava 2021-2035) is part of the general mechanism established for all policy fields in Estonia. In general, it is required from the ministry appointed as a responsible body for the policy document, to report to the Government every year the implemented activities, achieved outcomes and results.

An approach to evaluation and monitoring of the strategy is also described. The implementation of the development plan, also monitooring and evaluation is coordinated by the Ministry of Education and Researchwith all relevant ministries contributing within their scope and co-organised in cooperation with the Estonian National Youth Council.

The reporting is supported by a steering committee. The work of the committee is led by the Ministry of Education and Research and the committee includes representatives from the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Finance and the Government Office. Additionally, an important role is taken by youth representatives; strategic partners of the Ministry of Education and Research and experts of relevant areas are also included. The committee advises the minister, supports the consideration of the connections and impact between different areas when implementing the development plan, analyses reports and evaluates progress towards the development plan’s goals. The steering committee gives recommendations for the introduction, amendment and conclusion of programmes on the basis of related progress reports and provides an evaluation regarding the amendment and conclusion of the development plan.

Revisions/Updates

Like stated in previous sub-chapters, the measures for better involvement of youth and supporting youth participation have been taken even further with the current strategy on the visionary level. For example, the strategy aims at further advancing the participation opportunities for youth with diversifying the participation formats and introducing two new measures at highest level, like creating a advisory group at the Prime Minister’s office and a youth roundtable at the President’s office to give young people increased opportunities to express their opinion. Based on this, it is important to note that the operational programmes directing the implementation of these strategic goals are yet under development (tbc) which means that further updates will follow in this respect.