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In current times youth work in Hungary appears to have three pillars, three organisational modes.
- Certain 'grassroots' youth communities can be identified on the local level and small scale.
- There are NGOs and civil organisations (including the scouting movement and other religious youth organisations) active in the field. These are typically project-funded by the central government or (mostly) by EU grants.
- And finally, there is the public infrastructure, mainly connected to the Elisabeth Youth Foundation Nonprofit Ltd. [(Erzsébet Ifjúsági Alap) referred hereinafter as EYF].
EYF serves as methodological background to youth work or related to the mandatory youth activities of the municipal governments.
As youth work traditionally had many connections to community culture, some integrated community service spaces can be considered as key institutions carrying out local youth work.
Youth work is rarely named as a specific objective of government bodies. Similar to youth volunteering, the government structure does not specify youth work, but since the main responsible body is under the same organisational unit with youth policy, an integrated approach is assumed. As of 1 October 2020, the Minister without Portfolio Responsible for Families (Családokért felelős tárca nélküli miniszter) is responsible for youth policy and youth affairs. Before, the state secretariat, responsible for youth work, was the State Secretariat for Family and Youth Affairs. Sub-chapter 1.4 Youth policy decision-making specifies the structure.
Here we might add that, before the change in 2020, the organisational and operational rules (Szervezeti és Működési Szabályzat) of the Ministry of Human Capacities (Emberi Erőforrások Minisztériuma) refers to youth work explicitly in one paragraph about the 'other' tasks of the Division for Young People. According to this, the Department
'prepares methodological developments and activities together with the New Generation Centre Nonprofit Ltd., especially in the development of local youth work and the capacity building of organisations and service providers, as well as in developing the social activity of youth'. (p. 115.)
As of 1 October 2020, the Government regulation no. 94/2018. (V.22.) on the tasks and on the functions of the members of the Government [94/2018. (V.22.) Korm. rendelet a Kormány tagjainak feladat – és hatásköréről] states that the Minister without Portfolio Responsible for Families
'coordinates the tasks related to the Future of the New Generation Programme and takes the service of the Elisabeth Youth Foundation and the National Talent Programme, directed by the Minister, for administering the tasks related to the New Generation Programme and for the operation of the system of youth services.'
An institutionalised approach to youth work can only be found in the responsibilities of the above-mentioned Minister.
However, other governmental actors are connected to certain relevant elements and appear in the cross-sectoral cooperations, but do not refer to youth work explicitly in their tasks.
In the Ministry of Human Capacities:
- The State Secretariat for Public Education
In the Prime Minister’s Office:
- Deputy State Secretary for Civil Society Relations
- Deputy State Secretariat for Coordination of the Development of Modern Cities and Villages
In the Ministry for Innovation and Technology
- State Secretariat for Knowledge and Innovation Management
- The Division for Developing the Digital Welfare Programme (under the Deputy State Secretary for Innovation)
- The State Secretariat for EU Developments
The connections of the above-mentioned government bodies to youth work are
- through education, related to the educational aspects of youth work,
- through volunteering and
- through strengthening local youth communities to prevent outbound migration.
Elisabeth Youth Foundation Nonprofit Ltd.
As mentioned above, the most important background organisation in the field of youth work is the Elisabeth Youth Foundation Nonprofit Ltd. (Erzsébet Ifjúsági Alap Nonprofit Kft.). The organisation was founded and is owned by the State of Hungary. As a successor of Mobilitás National Agency, the methodological background of youth work belongs to this institution.
According to its organisational and operational rules (Szervezeti és Működési Szabályzat), youth work belongs to the Directorate of Youth Profession Programmes [although the term of youth work is not used, the document refers to youth professional work (ifjúságszakmai munka)]. The related activities of the Directorate are the following (p. 12-13.):
- preparation of new projects implemented by the Company
- monitoring the ongoing projects, supervision of professional tasks
- maintaining the results of the projects on the longer term by operating supportive tools and training system
- professional support to youth experts and organisations
- methodological support to municipal level youth professional work
- creating and maintaining databases of the youth profession
- coordinating cross-sectoral cooperation
- operating a national network
- operating a network of professional youth mentors
- practical support of youth and/or volunteering organisations and for the youth-related task management of municipal governments
- supporting youth communities, community development.
Tempus Public Foundation
'a non-profit organisation established in 1996 by the Hungarian Government, with the task of managing international cooperation programmes and special projects in the field of education, training and EU-related issues.'
The Youth Unit is responsible for the coordination of the youth chapter of Erasmus+. Their tasks (feladataik) include:
- reviewing applications,
- evaluation and
- dissemination, as well as
- participation in international cooperations.
One of the flagship youth work-related projects where the unit has been involved in the field of youth work is the Europe Goes Local project.
Digital Welfare Nonprofit Ltd.
Some of the digital aspects of youth work can be found in the Digital Welfare Strategy (Digitális Jólét Stratégia) of Hungary. The strategy is managed (működtetve) in the Digital Education Methodological Centre of the Digital Welfare Nonprofit Ltd. (Digitalis Jólét Nonprofit Korlátolt Felelossegu Társaság). Another division of this organisation, the Division for Digital Child Protection coordinates the implementation of the Digital Child Protection Strategy (Digitális Gyermekvédelmi Stratégia).
The role of public education
Public education plays an essential supplementary role in the infrastructure of youth policy. As such, elements related to the aims of youth work can also be found. Sub-chapter 7.6 Mechanisms of early detection and signposting of young people facing health risks describes the roles and responsibilities of the child and youth protection officer. Here the optional position of the leisure time organiser [szabadidő-szervező] could be mentioned. Leisure time organisers, together with the pedagogical assistants, are responsible for organising the leisure time activities in schools. Besides this, school student councils (see sub-chapter 5.3 Youth representation bodies) can also be interpreted in the context of youth work, mainly as organisers of programmes.
National Youth Council
One of the key actors in connecting different stakeholders of youth work is the National Youth Council [Nemzeti Ifjúsági Tanács (hereinafter referred to as in Hungarian NIT) As an umbrella organisation of youth organisations, they engage in issues directly related to youth work practice. For example, in September 2019 they co-organised a conference with the European Youth Centre (Európai Ifjúsági Központ) on the future (jövőjéről) of youth work (with some exceptions, see Eurydice Staff directly involved in teaching and education). (For more information about National Youth Council see sub-chapter 5.3 Youth representation bodies).
Hungarian Association of Youth Service Providers [Ifjúsági Szolgáltatók Országos Szövetsége (hereinafter referred to as ISZOSZ)]
'ISZOSZ, the Hungarian Association of Youth Service Providers was founded in 2011 as an umbrella organisation of professionals and organisations dealing with youth service.
Goals are to support the quality development of domestic youth services; to provide professional assistance and basic background for youth organisations and professionals working with youth service and to organise meetings and professional training - supporting youth service work processes and knowledge transfer.'
ISZOSZ aims to facilitate and organise youth work; as such, they have been arranging training to foster intergenerational transfers in youth work practice.
Elizabeth for the Children of Carpathian Basin Foundation (Erzsébet a Kárpát-medencei Gyermekekért Alapítvány)
The Elizabeth Foundation [(Erzsébet Alapítvány) - not to be confused with the EYF; the Elizabeth for the Children of Carpathian Basin Foundation established the Elisabeth Youth Foundation] is in close cooperation with the government and is mostly known for organising children's' camps. Besides these activities, their goals (céljaik) include the organisation of child- and youth protection programmes, as well as the organisation of 'social, cultural and other' events.
The program types (programtípusok) arranged by the Foundation are the following:
- 3-day long class excursions
- 6-day long summer experience camps
- 6-day long camps for children with special needs
- daytime summer camps (carried out at the place of residence of participants)
- Elizabeth Christmas (cultural and entertainment programmes in Budapest for disadvantaged children)
Federation of Children's and Youth Municipal Councils
Aiming mostly to develop the participation of young people in the local context, Federation of Children’s and Youth Municipal Councils [Gyermek- és Ifjúsági Önkormányzati Társaság (hereinafter referred to as GYIÖT)] doesn’t only build upon the methodology of youth work but is also engaged in mainstreaming it. As such, they have been members of projects (projektek) (mostly funded by Erasmus+) explicitly aiming to develop local-level youth work.
The general distribution of responsibilities
Top-level authorities are mainly responsible for comprehensive strategical planning, distributing funding by following the above-described objectives, and providing methodological support.
The primary strategical and methodological institution of youth work is the Elisabeth Youth Foundation (Erzsébet Ifjúsági Alap). As the most important financial source of youth work [HRDOP-1.2.3-CCHOP-15-2015-00001: Complex Youth Developments (EFOP-1.2.3-VEKOP/15 - Komplex ifjúsági fejlesztések – Új Nemzedék Újratöltve)] is administered by EYF, the main directions were set by them through close collaboration with the State Secretariat for Family and Youth Affairs (Család- és Ifjúságügyért Felelős Államtitkárság) and from 1 October 2020, it is ongoing with the Minister without Portfolio Responsible for Families.
Youth policy on the municipal level appears as a mandatory task, but no normative budgetary allocations are connected to it. Thus, local authorities’ approach to youth work greatly varies (nagyon különböző).
On the municipal level, the role of youth officers can be underlined. Since the position is not mandatory, and there are no official guidelines to it, the interpretations and implementations differ. However, the general understating of the role, developed by the former Mobilitás National Agency, states that youth officers, besides their tasks of coordinating public administration, may submit proposals regarding (az alábbi témakörökben):
- youth assistance,
- youth services and
The harmonisation of the work of youth officers is a general intention of both Elisabeth Youth Foundation and the umbrella youth organisations. The Foundation regulary organises meetings for them. The meeting (országos találkozó) in 2020 was held online.
According to the information provided by the predecessor of the EYF, the New Generation Centre Nonprofit Ltd. (Új Nemzedék Központ Nonprofit Közhasznú Kft.) in 2019, there are very few formal cross-sectoral cooperations. According to them, the reason is that cooperations in the youth field often happen at the local level and/or concerning certain programmes or projects. Thus, their impacts are not on the central level. It also must be noted that youth work as such, does not have its own platform, but is embedded into more general youth policy platforms (or alternatively youth work-related issues might appear in some specific subdomains of education or other related policy fields).
According to the information provided by the Ministry of Human Capacities in 2020, it is underlined that a professional discourse had been initiated by the National Youth Council (Nemzeti Ifjúsági Tanács) about the education of youth professionals, where the Deputy State Secretariat Responsible for Higher Education (in the Ministry of Innovation and Technology), the National Institute for Culture (Nemzeti Művelődési Intézet), the National Youth Council and its member organisations, as well as the Deputy State Secretariat for Young People (in the Prime Minister’s Office), have taken part.
The Roundtable for Youth was the main platform coordinated by the Ministry of Human Capacities (Emberi Erőforrások Minisztériuma) to connect public and civil stakeholders in the youth field. Its activities were encompassing the whole scape of youth policies, including those of youth work. The field is represented by some members of the roundtable, such as the Hungarian Scout Association (Magyar cserkészszövetség) and Tempus Public Foundation (Tempus Közalapítvány). The roundtable has not been convened in 2020 due to the pandemic, and according to the information provided by the Ministry of Human Capacities, it is being transformed.
Besides this, the role of the EYF must be noted as an institution that arranges conferences where stakeholders of the youth sector can meet, but these conferences function more as a platform for networking of youth workers than boosting actual youth policy cooperations. EYF is also a member of the Roundtable for Youth.