6.9 Awareness-raising about non-formal and informal learning and quality youth work
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The approx. 600 youth offices (Jugendämter) in Germany are also responsible for youth work activities, including a variety of non-school activities for young people such as youth centres, youth camps, holiday camps and activities, projects and cultural activities. The municipal youth centres offer a wide range of activities depending on staffing levels, location and clientele. Besides unstructured activities, there are also creative courses, games and learning events, cookery and bakery classes, media-related activities, sports, art, music and dance activities, homework supervision and extra tuition. Through this, the youth offices meet their obligations under Book VIII of the Social Code (Achtes Sozialgesetzbuch, SGB VIII), inter alia Section 11. The youth offices’ websites provide information on what they offer.
The organisations providing child and youth work activities outside of schools also provide information on their activities. A broad network of around 70 youth information centres across Germany provides information on all non-school activities and projects that are open to young people. In southern Germany, the youth information centres have formed a regional association (Süddeutsche Jugendinformationszentren).
Through its youth strategy “Acting for a child- and youth-friendly society” (Handeln für eine jugendgerechte Gesellschaft) the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ) helps to raise awareness of the fact that young people need space to develop and in turn, highlight the value and significance of youth work. Among its aims is to inform the German debate surrounding the importance of this space and of lively youth cultures in order to contribute towards the European discourse on the continued development of youth work.
The German Federal Youth Council (Deutscher Bundesjugendring) is the federation of youth associations, regional youth councils (Landesjugendringe) and various affiliated organisations with nationwide activities. It strengthens and represents the interests of the youth work community. Amongst other things, it publishes and communicates its opinions on a variety of matters towards the public, e.g. in its publication on education provided by youth associations (Jugendverbände machen Bildung - und noch viel mehr).
IJAB, the International Youth Service of the Federal Republic of Germany (Fachstelle für Internationale Jugendarbeit der Bundesrepublik) works towards creating more visibility for international youth work through initiatives as e.g. Action Alliance for International Recognition (Aktionsbündnis Anerkennung International).
Similarly, the umbrella youth work associations, such as the German Federation for Cultural Youth Education (Bundesvereinigung Kulturelle Kinder- und Jugendbildung, BKJ) or German Sports Youth (Deutsche Sportjugend) and their member organisations have a strong influence on the visibility of youth work.
There were and are various campaigns to highlight the value to society of youth work:
- In May 2014 the diocesan working parties for open child and youth services (Diözesane Arbeitsgemeinschaften der Offenen Kinder- und Jugendarbeit) ran the HERE I AM! (HIER BIN ICH!) campaign in the five (arch-)dioceses together with the state working party for Catholic open child and youth services (Landesarbeitsgemeinschaft Katholische Offene Kinder- und Jugendarbeit) in North Rhine-Westphalia. It aimed to raise awareness of the importance of and necessity for Catholic open child and youth services.
- The campaign “Youth work needs space!” (Jugendarbeit braucht Freiräume!) of the state youth council (Landesjugendring) in Rhineland-Palatinate called for more non-school education opportunities and self-managed places of learning. It encouraged young people to produce video clips and photos illustrating what these spaces mean to them and to discuss the youth council’s ideas with council representatives.
- In 2014 and 2015, the Bavarian Youth Council (Bayerischer Jugendring) launched the campaign “Juleica for everyone!” (Juleica für alle!). Juleica is a nationwide ID card scheme for volunteer youth workers. The aim was to increase the number of youth leaders in Bavaria with a Juleica ID.
- In the Saarland there was a campaign called “EiJO! Active in youth organisations” (EiJO! Engagiert in Jugendorganisationen) that was run by the Saarland youth associations and the Saarland state youth council (Landesjugendring Saar). The organisers wanted to paint a positive picture of the valuable work done by volunteer youth workers in the Saarland and who these young people are who contribute their spare time to youth organisations. Parents, decision-makers, businesses, children and adolescents were informed of this and were given a variety of ways to show their solidarity.
- Uferlos is a campaign by the working party of youth centres in Saxony (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Jugendfreizeitstätten Sachsen) to encourage more international youth work in the Free State of Saxony. The campaign spotlights young people, their ideas about leisure activities and their needs and lifestyles so as to include them in a participatory manner in designing attractive, effective youth exchanges. Uferlos is aimed at independent and public-sector youth work organisations and interested experts in Saxony.
- The Action Alliance for International Recognition (Aktionsbündnis Anerkennung International) launched the first nationwide campaign event on 8 June 2017. On this day, young people in 11 federal states met with 32 politicians in their local constituency offices and handed over a dossier detailing three improvements for international youth exchanges. One major demand was to provide a mobility voucher to all young people so that ALL young people could take part in an international exchange. The online campaign #internationalheart by the alliance is designed to show how diverse international exchanges are and that they should become part of everyday life, promoting commitment across the country and beyond. The aim is to make the contribution to society of international youth work more visible and gain more recognition for it.