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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki
Germany

Germany

5. Participation

5.8 Raising political awareness among young people

On this page
  1. Information providers / counselling structures
  2. Youth-targeted information campaigns about democratic rights and democratic values
  3. Promoting the intercultural dialogue among young people
  4. Promoting transparent and youth-tailored public communication

Information providers / counselling structures

Public authorities and bodies disseminating information about democratic rights and values for young people are e.g.:

The Joint initiative of providers of political education for youth (Gemeinsame Initiative der Träger Politischer Jugendbildung, GEMINI) is an association of national organisations for political education for youth that operates as the national committee for political education (Bundesausschuss politische Bildung, bap). The initiative is designed to get children and young people interested in actively shaping their own realities of life and their communities and to promote participative skills. It represents the concerns of political youth education institutes before politicians, ministries, authorities and other funding providers. GEMINI coordinates professional dialogues, is active in nationwide initiatives, and is committed to professionalising political youth education. The national committee for political education has presented the “bap award for political education” (bap-Preis Politische Bildung) since 2009 (most recently: 2019), with financial and conceptual support from the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ).

Contact points

Approx. 70 youth information centres across Germany provide initial consultations for young people on issues that affect them. The youth information centres in southern Germany joined forces in 1997 to form an association (Verbund der Süddeutschen Jugendinformationszentren).

Examples of youth information portals:

Legal framework

Young people have a right to information. This right is anchored in Article 5 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany (Grundgesetz für die Bundesrepublik, GG). For youth information and advice, Book 8 of the Social Code  – Children and Youth Services (Sozialgesetzbuch Achtes Buch – Kinder- und Jugendhilfe, SGB VIII) applies. Articles 1 and 11 in particular are understood to anchor legal rights. Article 1 says that every young person has a right to cultivate their personal development and to develop into a responsible and socially competent individual. Child and youth services are to help implement this right, in part by cultivating the personal and social development of young people and by helping to prevent or remove disadvantages. Article 11 says that youth work is part of child and youth services. Youth counselling is a key area of youth work. [German Federal Youth Council (Deutscher Bundesjugendring), 1997].

Youth information centres receive financial support from the local authorities.

Youth-targeted information campaigns about democratic rights and democratic values

The competition "Active for democracy and tolerance" (Aktiv für Demokratie und Toleranz) is run every year by the Alliance for Democracy and Tolerance (Bündnis für Demokratie und Toleranz). The winners receive up to 5,000 euros in prize money, a high degree of public recognition and the opportunity to take part in a workshop on the prize-winning projects. The Alliance is funded by the federal government and supports civic activities that offer practical help with fostering democracy and tolerance. In 2019, 63 projects received awards.

Under the #GIFallyoucan competition of the foundation for engagement and education (Stiftung für Engagement und Bildung), young people can learn how to respond to right-wing hate speech with memes and GIFs when discussions seem to have reached a dead-end. The young competition participants learn about right-wing hate speech online and create their own memes and GIFs. They can win prizes such as sustainable smartphones made in Germany.

Campaigns to increase the number of young voters

Various campaigns are held in Germany to increase the number of young and first voters, especially in the lead up to elections. Examples

  1. Wahl-O-Mat – an election information platform of the Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung). Outcome: used over 82 million times (as of August 2020).
  2. U18 election (U18-Wahl). Offers its own citizenship education courses ahead of elections to help young people to develop an opinion and learn about the political system.
  3.  "neXTvote – We are bringers of happiness" (neXTvote – Wir sind GlücksbringerXinnen) – campaign by youth organisations and the youth councils in Lower Saxony for more participation by young people in the 2019 European election.
  4. "Do it from 16!" (Mach’s ab 16!) in Brandenburg – campaign by the regional youth council (Landesjugendring) of Brandenburg aimed at first-time voters in the local and state (Landtag) elections to reduce the average voting age in Brandenburg.
  5. "Vote from 16" (Wählen ab 16) – campaign to reach first-time voters in connection with the local elections in Baden-Württemberg in 2019. Campaign advert in Baden-Württemberg in 2014.
  6. "project JuMP up – youth, media, participation" (project JuMP up – Jugend, Medien, Partizipation) in North Rhine-Westphalia – a state-wide campaign to actively encourage political media literacy among young people. Ends December 2020.
  7. "wahl?weise!jung" – programme by the Bavarian Youth Council (Bayerischer Jugendring) offering resources and tools for democracy education, also in preparation for coordinating Bavaria’s "U18" elections (for young people under the age of 18).

Promoting the intercultural dialogue among young people

The resolution of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz, KMK) on intercultural education in schools (Interkulturelle Bildung und Erziehung in der Schule) (KMK resolution dated 25 October 1996, version dated 5 December 2013) sets out targets and general principles for systematic intercultural development in schools to help pupils acquire intercultural skills. This includes democracy education and promoting a democratic culture of discussion.

The intercultural openness of youth organisations promotes the inclusion of children and young people with migrant backgrounds in traditional youth organisation programmes and thus dialogue between them. The inclusion of youth-led migrant organisations in child and youth work structures is also encouraged.

The rise in immigration to Germany and the arrival of large numbers of refugees has produced a large range of activities, initiatives and projects (meeting cafes, communal cooking, language mentors, art and culture workshops, integrative residential communities etc.) in cities and communities. These also support dialogue between young refugees and young people living here.

The Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt) provides funding to German schools abroad (Deutsche Auslandsschulen) and schools in host countries that offer the German Language Certificate (Deutsches Sprachdiplom, DSD) of the Conference of Education Ministers (Kultusministerkonferenz). At present, funding goes to 140 German schools abroad in 72 countries with some 85 000 pupils. 

The initiative Schools: Partners for the Future (Schulen: Partner der Zukunft, PASCH) was set up in 2008. The Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt) coordinates the initiative and implements it together with the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (Zentralstelle für das Auslandsschulwesen, ZfA), the Goethe-Institut, the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischen Austauschdienst, DAAD) and the Pedagogical Exchange Service Office (Pädagogischer Austauschdienst, PAD) of the Secretariat of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Sekretariat der Kultusministerkonferenz). PASCH-Global – the digital school newspaper of the PASCH initiative – gives young people across the globe an insight into cultures in other countries and the opportunity to exchange experiences in German. PASCH alumni can network with other alumni worldwide, stay in contact and exchange experiences using the platform pasch-alumni.de. International meet-ups funded by the federal government's Child and Youth Plan (Kinder- und Jugendplan) take place both in Germany and abroad and promote intercultural dialog among young people.

IJAB – International Youth Service of the Federal Republic of Germany (IJAB – Fachstelle für internationale Jugendarbeit der Bundesrepublik Deutschland) is the partner for international youth work and youth policy in Europe and the world.

IJAB promotes international exchanges and programmes with the aim of creating greater mutual understanding, offering international learning opportunities, enabling more participation, and combating xenophobia, racism and violence. IJAB implements projects on youth policy-related issues together with its international partners and promotes the exchange of expertise within the child and youth services community, bringing together stakeholders from Germany and abroad to this end. IJAB informs and advises child and youth services providers, policymakers and administrators and offers training courses, expert exchanges, handbooks and manuals, and specialist publications. It also advises young people on going abroad and obtaining funding. IJAB, the International Youth Service of the Federal Republic of Germany, was established in 1967. Today, it works on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ), its own member organisations and other youth work providers. Youth for Europe (JUGEND für Europa), the National Agency for the EU programmes Erasmus+ Youth in Action (Erasmus+ JUGEND IN AKTION) and European Solidarity Corps (Europäisches Solidaritätskorps) in Germany, is affiliated with IJAB.

Promoting transparent and youth-tailored public communication

Guidelines

The Guidelines for Successful E-participation by Young People (Guidelines für gelingende ePartizipation Jugendlicher) were produced in the course of youthpart, a multilateral cooperation project (2011-2014) carried out by IJAB - International Youth Service of the Federal Republic of Germany and its European project partners. They should help experts in youth work, policy-makers, young people, youth organisations and public administration bodies to design effective participation processes.

The project youth.participation.now (jugend.beteiligen.jetzt) offers knowledge, tools and training for political decision-makers, local communities, child and youth services organisations and youth initiatives to help in the area of digital youth participation. A curriculum called 'Digital youth participation in practice' (Praxis digitale Jugendbeteiligung) was created as part of the project. It also aims to provide help with planning and implementing training schemes independently. It is mainly aimed at process moderators who have already undergone youth participation training or have worked in the field. The content of certain modules is useful for providing further training for stakeholders of community youth participation processes. In addition, WeTeK Berlin offered a 'Digital youth participation in practice' pilot training programme (Qualifizierung: „Praxis digitale Jugendbeteiligung“) in 2017/2018 in cooperation with 'jugnd.beteiligen.jetzte' to train up process moderators and experts in child and youth participation.

Further links to information about transparency and public communication
  • govdata.de/ – data portal for Germany. Interesting facts about open data, open government and civic participation, and information about the data licence Germany (Datenlizenz Deutschland). Target group-specific information for the public and people from industry, academia, public administration and civic organisations and media.
  • abgeordnetenwatch.de/ – independent, party-neutral Internet platform from Parlamentwatch on which the public can put open questions to members of the German parliament (Deutscher Bundestag), European parliament and various state parliaments.
  • digital-made-in-de – website on the federal government's strategy for shaping the digital transformation
  • fragdenstaat.de/ – website of Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland, where members of the public can ask questions about information laws (Freedom of Information Act, Environmental Information Act and Consumer Information Act).
  • offenerhaushalt.de/ – volunteer project with no government ties run by Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland to make federal (Bund), regional (Länder) and local revenue and spending more transparent.

Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland is committed to open knowledge, open data, transparency and participation. It gives workshops on a wide range of topics including data literacy, open data and open learning, and develops its own learning formats. It also hosts hackathons, where young people can use open data to create prototypes, digital tools and concepts of their visions of a better society. Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland has published a practical guide to hosting hackathons for young people.