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In many policy areas, Germany has adopted national strategies that also serve the social inclusion of young people. There are those that include all age groups and those directed specifically at children and/or youth.
National Action Plan for inclusion 2.0 (Nationaler Aktionsplan Inklusion 2.0)
The National Action Plan for inclusion (Nationaler Aktionsplan Inklusion 2.0, NAP 2.0) implements the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) and is the second NAP adopted by the federal government. NAP 2.0 draws on the first National Action Plan from 2011. NAP 2.0 was adopted by the federal cabinet in 2016 and comprises 175 new measures in 13 areas of activity. For the first time, all federal ministries have contributed their own activities, projects and initiatives to the NAP. Also for the first time, the measures have been aligned with a system of objectives that builds on the UN CRPD’s definition of disability. The aim is to enable all citizens to play an independent role in an accessible society and enjoy equal access to political, social, economic and cultural life. NAP 2.0 serves to promote the practical implementation of the UN CRPD one step after another. It also incorporates major legislative projects such as the continued development of Germany’s legislation on equality for persons with disabilities. Key activities aimed at children and young people include:
- Fostering the development of children with disabilities from a very early stage,
- Eliminating interface issues in the benefits systems where possible,
- Improving the protection of young people with disabilities against (sexual) violence in institutions,
- Strengthening the human rights and personality rights of people who identify as inter-gender.
The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales) is the first government contact point (or 'focal point') for implementation process steering, cross-sectoral awareness measures, updates and National Action Plan committee guidance.
Some federal states have also designed their own strategies, for instance Hesse. Hesse’s action plan to implement the UN CRPD with Disabilities of 17 August 2012 is a work, information and innovation plan. It serves as a source of guidance for policies for and by persons with disabilities in the state of Hesse. The action plan contains over 350 individual measures, more than 200 individual objectives and over 70 overarching principles. Hesse’s action plan was designed in close cooperation with associations representing persons with disabilities, a large number of civil society institutions, and the citizens of Hesse.
Further information on the state of affairs of the action plans and implementation of measures of the UN CRPD at federal (Bund) and state (Länder) level can be found at the website of the National CRPD Monitoring Mechanism at the German Institute for Human Rights.
National Strategy for Literacy and the Basic Education of Adults (Nationale Strategie Alphabetisierung und Grundbildung)
Through the National Strategy for Literacy and the Basic Education of Adults (Nationale Strategie Alphabetisierung und Grundbildung), the federal government and the federal states plan to bring about a considerable improvement in the reading and writing skills of adults in Germany. To this end, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF) and the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz) in 2016 proclaimed a Literacy Decade. By 2026, adults, including young adults no longer in school, are to be given access to more support than before that helps them to learn to read and write better. During this Decade, BMBF will spend up to EUR 180 million on literacy projects and design teaching concepts and self-learning programmes. The National Strategy is funded jointly by the federal government and the federal states. The federal states have adopted specific measures to implement it.
Strategy to prevent extremism and promote democracy (Strategie zur Extremismusprävention und Demokratieförderung)
On 13 July 2016 the federal government adopted the strategy to prevent extremism and promote democracy (Strategie zur Extremismusprävention und Demokratieförderung). The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ) is the lead ministry in this case. This cross-sectoral strategy is based on joined-up action by the federal government, the federal states, local authorities and civil society. Action is to be taken wherever extremism prevention and democracy promotion play a particular role, such as local authorities and districts, institutions, associations and clubs, schools and indeed anywhere where people are working to strengthen democracy and defend human rights and liberties. The strategy is designed to speak to all age groups. The idea is to engage in discussions with young people and provide support to teachers, parents and other caregivers. Under the strategy, support is provided to extremists wishing to quit the scene and hate speech online is countered. Extremism is to be actively prevented in prisons, too.
There are different time frames depending on the actions and measures set up and foreseen by the different ministries, e.g. the federal programme Live Democracy! („Demokratie leben!“) (adopted in 2015 and made permanent in 2018) by BMFSFJ or the initiative to promote social skills in the dual vocational training system (2016-2019) by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.
Civic commitment strategy (Engagementstrategie)
On 25 January 2016, BMFSFJ launched its Civic commitment strategy (Engagementstrategie). It was jointly drawn up by civil society groups and representatives of the private sector. Its priority areas include a stronger civic commitment infrastructure and culture of recognition, along with the continued development of voluntary services. The Ministry also wishes to improve the coordination of research in the field of civic commitment and establish a results-oriented support system for civic engagement. To strengthen support for voluntary civic engagement, scientific data is gathered at regular intervals and published, e.g., in the form of the German volunteering survey (Deutscher Freiwilligensurvey) and a scientific civic commitment report (Engagementbericht). Target groups are children aged 10 and above, young people and adults who work as volunteers, and organisations that support them in doing so, such as associations, foundations, initiatives, cooperatives, networks, (youth) associations or religious groups.
The federal states also have civic commitment strategies of their own. Examples:
- Hamburg’s strategy for civic commitment 2020 (Hamburger Strategie für freiwilliges Engagement 2020) adopted by the Hamburg Senate on 15 July 2014. First formal framework for existing volunteering structures promoting the continued development of volunteering and civic commitment in Hamburg.
- Civic commitment strategy for Baden-Wurttemberg (Engagementstrategie Baden-Württemberg). Aims to strengthen civic commitment by bringing together all stakeholders and improving the general framework, attracting new volunteers and shaping a united and diverse society that is open to all.
- North Rhine-Westphalia is in the process of developing a participatory engagement strategy (Engagementstrategie). It is scheduled to be finalised by the end of 2019.
Youth strategy 'Action for a child- and youth-friendly society' (Handeln für eine jugendgerechte Gesellschaft)
The youth strategy (Jugendstrategie) was adopted by BMFSFJ for the period 2015 to 2018. It is an invitation from the federal government to the federal states and local authorities to engage in strategic cooperation, a forum to exchange concepts and expertise, and a voice for the youth lobby. The guiding principle of the youth strategy is to enable young people to participate in all matters that concern them. The youth strategy brings together a large number of partners. The youth strategy is based on the independent youth policy (Eigenständige Jugendpolitik), a holistic policy approach that places young people aged 12 to 27 at the centre of cross-sectoral action in a variety of fields. This approach is implemented across Germany through various partners and projects. Policies for young people are supplemented by policies with and by young people.
Integration through education
In Germany, responsibility for education lies with the federal states. Nationwide education strategies in terms of joint resolutions are adopted by the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz, KMK), a body that is composed of all education ministers in the federal states, and then implemented at the regional level (Länder). Over the last few years KMK has adopted a number of resolutions designed to promote the integration of children and young people from immigrant families. These generally affect all pupils in all types of schools.
- In October 2015 KMK, various immigrant community organisations and educational publishers adopted a joint declaration entitled 'Reflecting cultural diversity, integration and migration in educational media' (Darstellung von kultureller Vielfalt, Integration und Migration in Bildungsmedien). The declaration reflects, inter alia, the intent of all signatories to reflect the heterogeneity in German schools in educational media in an adequate and non-discriminatory manner.
- In 2013 KMK and various organisations representing the immigrant community adopted a joint declaration on the partnership on education between schools and parents (Bildungs- und Erziehungspartnerschaft von Schule und Eltern). The declaration identifies hands-on measures with which education partnerships in schools can be set up and implemented.
- On 13 December 2007 KMK adopted a joint declaration entitled 'Integration as an opportunity – working together for more equality' (Integration als Chance – gemeinsam für mehr Chancengerechtigkeit). It contains joint recommendations and commitments to improve the integration of and encourage academic excellence among children and young people from immigrant families by working more closely with their parents.
- In response to the specific demands placed on teachers by the presence of several different cultures in the classroom, KMK adopted a set of standards on 16 December 2004 (latest version: 12 June 2014) entitled 'Standards for teacher training: Educational science' (Standards für die Lehrerbildung: Bildungswissenschaften). Competence 4 (Kompetenz 4) reads: "Teachers should be aware of the social and cultural backgrounds of their students and, within the school environment, influence their students’ personal development".
In response to the large number of refugees, in autumn 2015 the Alliance for Initial and Further Training (Allianz für Aus- und Weiterbildung) adopted a declaration entitled 'Creating perspectives for refugees together' (Gemeinsam für Perspektiven von Flüchtlingen).
All strategies are revised and monitored on a regular basis. Results are being published on the websites of the respective institution or ministries in charge.