10.4 Quality and innovation in youth work
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There are no quality standards for youth work and youth workers, but there are occupational profile standards for youth affairs specialists and youth workers. Standards define needed competencies, education, and experience for those working in these professions.
Training for Youth affairs specialists (responsible for the implementation: Ministry of Education and Science)
The regulations of Minister Cabinet No. 1047 states in the “Procedures for Training for Youth Affairs Specialists” that: "For the purpose of acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary for the performance of professional duties, a specialist in youth affairs shall, within a period of two years from the date of taking up or taking up his or her duties, acquire a training program for a specialist in youth affairs (hereinafter referred to as "the training program") in a minimum of 80 academic hours."
European Charter on Local Youth Work (responsible for the implementation: National Agency)
Latvian National Agency was one of the partners in Erasmus+ strategic cooperation project “Europe Goes Local”, this project produced the European Charter on Local Youth Work as one of its main outcomes.
Quality Criteria for youth center work (developed by organization Baltijas Regionalais Fonds, popularized by Ministry of Education and Science)
A national organization "Baltijas Regionalais Fonds" participated in project developing “High Quality for Youth Centers” with partners from Estonia, Latvia, Hungary and Spain.
The four partners of this project (CJCV, BRF, EDELA EESTI and ISOS) worked for 24 months team to design an ideal youth centre-space manual, with presence both online and offline.
Once a year the Ministry of Education and Science of Latvia studies the situation in municipalities (surveying municipalities), asking representatives of municipalities to send information about youth work at local level – institutions involved, planning documents developed, NGOs active in the field, main statistical data about youth, etc.
Information about youth policy and other related information, as well as statistical data and researches on different youth issues, is published on the website of the Ministry of Education and Science.
The portal serves as a guide where wide-ranging information on youth policy is available. Information and links to access necessary and interested information on different themes, such as youth employment possibilities, education, involvement, culture, sport, etc. are also available in the portal. Additionally, there are a youth organisations database and a youth affairs co-ordinators database that include contact information.
The database of researches and publications collects all studies, publications and methodologies of public institutions starting from 2000. Besides, a list of perspective studies, publications and methodologies planned for the two years ahead is also available in the database.
Statistical databases about social, economic, environment and other issues are freely available on the website of the Central Statistical Bureau. Although youth statistics are not grouped as a separate category of the database, by selecting data by age parameters, it is possible to obtain varied information about youth target group.
Section 7 of the Youth Law on the "Participation of Young People in the Development and Implementation of Youth Policy" states that Young People have the right to participate in the development and implementation of youth policy by:
1) engaging in non-formal education and volunteering;
2) acting in self-government groups in educational institutions;
3) developing and implementing projects as well as other initiatives;
4) participating in youth organizations, as well as other associations and foundations;
5) being involved in the state and local government decision-making process that are influencing implementation of youth policy ;
6) engaging in other activities aimed at promoting the participation of young people in the design and implementation of youth policy.
In order to enable young people and those involved in youth work to take full advantage of the benefits of digital youth work, much attention is being paid to issues such as digital and media literacy in the country. The knowledge and skills of youth professionals and youth workers is an important resource for developing media literacy among young people. Taking into account that the training of youth specialists and youth workers is provided by the Ministry of Education and Science, since 2018 the Ministry of Education and Science has included media literacy in the training of these specialists. The mentioned training is provided in cooperation with the support of specialists of the Ministry of Culture.
Media literacy issues are included in the content of both formal and non-formal education. For example, in April 2018, pupils in grades 3 and 6 were given the opportunity to perform diagnostic work, organized by the Latvian Safer Internet Center and the National Center for Education, dedicated to assessing pupils' knowledge and skills in Internet safety and media literacy. In addition, in 2018, media projects managed by the Society Integration Fund and the National Regional Development Agency supported 20 projects in categories such as lie deconstruction, promotion of media literacy and media criticism.
In order to develop young people's creative technical thinking and change their role from technology consumers to "critical" creators, Latvia is focusing on STEM programs at all levels and levels of education, including both formal and non-formal education.
For example, various social education projects aimed at developing digital skills among young people have been established and are successfully operating in Latvia. One such project and good practice in the area of cooperation between public and private entrepreneurs is the Start (IT) project implemented by the Start (IT) Education Foundation. The aim of this project is to develop pupils' digital skills and to promote advanced computer and digital skills in schools. The Foundation is one of the successful examples of cooperation between the private and public sectors, showing that companies in the country are interested in engaging in the development of state-of-the-art curricula. The Start Foundation (IT) offers everyone the opportunity to learn free computer science and programming, which is currently used by more than 24,000 teachers and students across Latvia. This portal provides students, students and teachers with digital curricula and educational materials. The materials developed by the Foundation are used by both educators and students in more than 300 schools in Latvia.
The Foundation has produced and offers materials for active use such as Introduction to Programming, Computer Security, Virtual Reality, Android Mobile Application Development, Robotics, 3D Modeling and Printing. With the help of the project, employees of the largest IT companies in Latvia have the opportunity to become school mentors. These mentors lead guest lectures on trends, challenges and innovations in the IT industry, and help teachers incorporate technology into the learning process. In 2018, UNESCO has included Start (IT) in the list of top 12 IT education projects among 195 UNESCO member states.