5.8 Raising political awareness among young people
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Youth information belongs to the area of responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Research, a central organisation responsible for the system of Rajaleidja (Pathfinder) centres is Education and Youth Board, which is also implementing youth policy, including the development of the provision of youth information.
Contact points for youth and youth information and counselling structures
Youth information has been recognized as a specific field in youth work since 2001. There was a separate system of youth information centres, which in 2014 were merged with career guidance centres (career guidance was transferred to the Unemployment Insurance Fund in 2018). In 2023, there were 16 centralised publicly financed centres in all counties. The regional youth guidance centres, called Pathfinder centres (Rajaleidja), provide information and counselling for young people up to 26 years.
There are also dedicated websites available for the provision of youth information:
- National portal
- Web-sites providing information for youth, e.g. Rajaleidja; Teeviit
- Regional youth information portals such as Põlva Noored; Noorteinfo
The centres and youth information activities are receiving annual public funding.
There was an initiative in 2016 supported by public funding from the Ministry of Education and Research of the Estonian National Youth Council connected with the change in the voting system, that allowed 16 and 17 years old to vote first time in the 2017 local elections. The initiative offered schools the opportunity to invite young people from the National Youth Council to give a lesson or a simulation exercise for pupils.
The National Youth Council also promotes the visibility of youth participation through photo-project #noorednähtaval.
Some local campaigns happening from time to time as well, e.g. Tartu city Youth Work Center campaign "Let a child be a child" in 2020.
In Estonia, the issue of cultural diversity is among the most important policy areas considering there are representatives of around 190 nationalities living in Estonia. The area of integration responsibility area of the Ministry of Culture, where there is also the position of the Undersecretary of Cultural diversity. The ministry is in charge of the coordination of the joint strategy Cohesive Estonia 2030, which includes integration and social cohesion in Estonia. In part of integration it is successor of strategy “Integrating Estonia 2020" (Lõimuv Eesti 2020). General objective of joint startegy is that Estonia is a cohesive and inclusive society. It means that Estonia is a sustainable nation-state where everyone enjoys living. Estonian people are cooperative, share a common Estonian cultural space, value the Estonian state, and feel a sense of unity, irrespective of their native language, cultural background or place of residence. In a diverse Estonia, everyone shares democratic values and carries a common Estonian identity. The activities of the state are people-centred and support the development of communities. Everyone feels valued and involved. Estonian people want to tie their lives to Estonia, they actively participate in community and social activities and contribute to the development of the state – they have many different opportunities to do so while living in Estonia and abroad. A coherent and cohesive society is the common responsibility of all Estonian people – it is the Estonia of us all.
In particular, the objective "Estonia supporting adaptation and integration" of the joint strategy is focusing on intercultural learning. Ambition is that Estonian society is cohesive and stable where people from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds carry the Estonian identity, participate actively in social life, share democratic values and a common cultural, information and communication space, and feel a sense of unity. We have created equal opportunities for successful independent coping and well-being for all people living in Estonia. In the framework of the strategy, several objectives are defined relevant to social inclusion of young people and intercultural awareness:
- Developing modern, smart and effective adaptation and integrations pathways
- A common, understandable and reliable communication and information space
- Promoting social contacts that support a sense of unity
- Improving Estonian language proficiency and strengthening ties with the Estonian state and cultural space
- Supporting the local level and developing cross-sectoral partnerships
The youth-specific activities of the strategy are “support cultural and youth work institutions in contributing to integration.“ and "advise general education schools, local government and educational institutions in matters of adaptation and integration (incl. hobby education and youth work)". The objective shall be achieved also through co-operation with the youth field. The measure in the youth field aims to increase the capability of the youth work field to create and develop a socialising environment suitable for young people and support young people’s own initiatives, their culture and the organising of youth projects. It supports the self-initiative of young people and common activities through youth work; various forms of participation are created and developed and youth workers are trained to work with different youth groups.
Currently, in Estonia there is no policy frameworks, guidelines or initiatives on transparent public communication targeting specifically young people. There is a general consultation framework for the public sector Good practice of inclusion (kaasamise hea tava). However Youth Sector Development Plan 2021-2035 has ambitious to increase feedback towards young people about decisions, as well as better monitoring and knowledge of youth.
See more about the national distribution and development of youth information from Chapter 10.7.