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Latvia

5. Participation

5.3 Youth representation bodies

On this page
  1. Youth parliament
  2. Youth councils and/or youth advisory boards
  3. Higher education student union(s)
  4. School student union(s)
  5. Other bodies

Youth parliament

The Youth Parliament is a project of the Latvian Parliament that provides young people with an opportunity to express and defend their ideas, as well as to get acquainted with the daily work of members of the parliament. Young people submit their ideas for elections and collect votes to support them. In 2016, such project was implemented already for the sixth time in Latvia.

Any young person permanently residing in the Republic of Latvia, who has reached at least the age of 15 as at the moment of announcing of the project and would not be older than 20 at the end of the project, has the right to stand for election. Under-age young people shall additionally submit to the Parliament a statement confirming the participation of the young person in the project signed by a parent or a guardian.

In order to stand for election in the Youth Parliament, a young person shall register their profile on the website according to the procedures specified in the Latvian Parliament project regulations. Upon registration of the profile, the young person confirms that they have got acquainted with the regulations and agree to the requirements and terms specified therein.

Each candidate stands for election individually, registering the idea he or she wishes to represent in the Youth Parliament.

Structure

A hundred of young people of the Youth Parliament, whose ideas have received the largest number of votes, gather in the Saeima building for one day in order to understand through their own experience the specific requirements of the legislator's work and to address their peers regarding topical issues from the Parliament podium.

For the purpose of the election of the Youth Parliament, Latvia is divided into five election district – Riga, Vidzeme, Latgale, Kurzeme and Zemgale.

There are 100 Youth Parliament members in the Youth Parliament, including Saeima Praesidium Members, co-chairpersons of commissions and tellers who have been selected from 100 elected deputies on the basis of the number of votes received in the elections.

A candidate who has complied with all requirements and pledges the following receives the mandate of the Youth Parliament: “I, assuming the responsibilities of a member of Youth Parliament X, solemnly vow to fulfil them honestly and in good faith. I confirm that I have been elected to the Youth Parliament X to work under the mandate thereof and exercise my powers according to the regulations of the project “Youth Parliament”.

Composition

The Praesidium of the Youth Parliament consists of the Youth Parliament members who have received the most votes.

The co-chairpersons of the commissions of the Youth Parliament are four members of the Youth Parliament who have received the second largest number of votes.

The tellers of the Youth Parliament are four members of the Youth Parliament who have received the third largest number of votes.

Members of the Youth Parliament work in four sectoral commissions. In order to determine the commission, in which a member of the Youth Parliament will work, a priority commission specified by the candidate and the number of votes received are taken into account.

Role and Responsibilities

The declarations adopted by the Youth Parliament are recommendatory in nature, and they are submitted to the relevant commissions of the Saeima, all factions of Saeima and members of the parliament not belonging to any factions, so that all members of the parliament can get acquainted with the contents of declarations and consider the option of bringing forward the ideas expressed therein in the work of the commissions of the Saeima.           

Funding

The project Youth Parliament is funded from the budget of the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia.

Youth councils and/or youth advisory boards

Founded in 1992, the National Youth Council of Latvia is an association of youth organisations and organisations working with youth up to the age of 30 that voluntarily unites associations and foundations, the regulations or by-laws of which provide for youth work as one of the aims and in which at least two thirds of members or the direct target group is persons below 30 of age or organisers and/or implementers of youth work. The National Youth Council of Latvia is founded to reach the aims specified in the said regulations or by-laws, and it has no purpose of gaining profit.

The main area of activity of the NYCL is representation of the interests of young people at national and international level with the aim of improving the standard of living for young people in Latvia.

The task of the NYCL is to participate in inter-institutional cooperation for the purpose of elaborating the youth policy; to support its members in implementation of the youth policy; to strengthen the cooperation among the members and build their capacity; to ensure expertise and implement research in the field of youth policy.

Structure

Any youth organisation or organisation working with young people registered with the Register of Enterprises of the Republic of Latvia may become a member of the NYCL. Also, a separate structural unit of a registered organisation (department, group, club, etc.) may become an associate organisation of the NYCL. The organisations that join the NYCL support the aims of the NYCL and comply with its regulations in their activity.

The Board of the NYCL is its executive body, consisting of five members of the Board:

 - the President of the NYCL;

 - the Vice-President of the NYCL;

 - three Members of the Board.

At least one of the persons of the executive body is of the age specified in the definition of a “young person” in the Youth Law (the age from 13 to 25) and according to the Associations and Foundations Law.

The proceedings of the Board shall be valid if more than half of the Members of the Board of the NYCL participate in it.

Composition

Currently, the NYCL unites 34 organisations, 29 of them have been granted the status of a member.

Any association or foundation registered pursuant to the procedures of regulatory enactments of the Republic of Latvia (LR) may become a member of the NYCL if it recognises the aims of the NYCL, undertakes to comply with the regulations of the NYCL and decisions taken by it, and complies with the following criteria:

  1. the actions of the organisation are aimed at the improvement of the quality of life for young people;

  2. two thirds of the members of the organisation or its direct target group are persons under 30 years of age;

  3. the organisation is registered pursuant to the procedures of the regulatory enactments of the Republic of Latvia and has been operating for at least one year.

The status of an associate member of the NYCL has been established so that associations or foundations that do not meet the criteria could engage in the activities of the NYCL in order to become its members.

Role and Responsibilities

The main area of activity of the NYCL is representation of the interests of young people at national and international level with the aim of improving the standard of living for young people in Latvia.

The task of the NYCL is to participate in inter-institutional cooperation for the purpose of elaborating the youth policy; to support its members in implementation of the youth policy; to strengthen the cooperation among the members and build their capacity; to ensure expertise and implement research in the field of youth policy.

The mission of the NYCL is development of youth work in Latvia in order to improve the quality of life for young people and representation of the interests of youth organisations and other associations and foundations that work with persons

under 30 years of age at national and international level.

The aim of activities of the NYCL is to create an environment where children and youth organisations can achieve their goals:

The aim of activities of the NYCL is:

  1. to participate in the development of the youth policy at national and international level;

  2. to represent the interests of members and associate members at national and international level;

  3. to foster the development of youth work.

The tasks of activity of the NYCL are:

  1. to participate in intra-institutional cooperation for the purpose of elaborating the youth policy;

  2. to support members and associate members in development and implementation of the youth policy;

  3. to strengthen the cooperation among the members and associate members and build their capacity;

  4. to ensure expertise and implement research in the field of youth policy.

Funding

The budget of the NYCL is composed of membership fees and income from economic activity, as well as funding attracted under calls for financial projects for the purpose of implementing specific initiatives.

Higher education student union(s)

Structure

The system of the student self-governance bodies and the representation of the interests of students is determined in the Law on Institutions of Higher Education. It establishes that the student self-governance is mandatory for every institution of higher education. The Student Union of Latvia (hereinafter referred to as the SUL) represents the interests of students in national authorities. The SUL is a collegial union of the student self-governance bodies of accredited institutions of higher education that deals with higher education issues at national level. The union provides statements regarding draft regulatory enactments, ensures student representatives in the Council of Higher Education and other institutions, ensures representation of the interests of Latvian students in the European Students' Union and deals with other issues related to students and their representation.

Composition

There are 3 main structural units of the SUL that ensure the work of the union – the Congress, the Council and the Board. The Congress and the Council are the decision-making bodies of the SUL, and delegates to those structural units are delegated and elected by the self-governance bodies of the institutions of higher education. The Board of the SUL is the executive body thereof.

The Congress is the highest decision-making body of the union that usually gathers once a year. Delegates of the Congress gather in order to elect the President of the SUL for one year, to approve the budget of the organisation and set guidelines for activities for the following year, and it traditionally takes place in the first quarter of the year. Currently, there are more than 200 members there, and each institution of higher education is ensured at least 3, but not more than 17 places in the Congress.

The Council is the decision-making body of the union where the representatives delegated by the student self-governance bodies – Councillors – gather not less than once in two months. Each self-governance body of students has at least one, but not more than five delegates in the SUL Council. The Council decides on the position of the SUL in issues affecting the interests of students at national and international level, as well as supervises the work of the Board and the President of the SUL and elects the Board Members of the SUL. The duties of the Councillors include active participation in discussions regarding draft decisions in-between the Council meetings. There are 53 delegates from the self-governance bodies of students in the Council of the SUL.

The Board is the executive body of the union elected by the Council of the SUL that ensures the activities of the SUL. Each year, a presidential candidate may propose their model for the Board, however, traditionally it consists of Board Members who are in charge of the academic, international and social dimension, as well as a Board Member who deals with topical issues of the self-governance bodies of students. The Board gathers not less than once in two weeks. The work of the Board is coordinated by the President of the SUL elected by the Congress; the President represents the association in communication with its cooperation partners, mass media and other public bodies and non-governmental organisations. The Board elections take place at the next meeting of the Council after the Congress. The Board Members and the President are elected for a period of one year.

The delegates to the Council and Congress are nominated from among the self-governance bodies of students on the basis of democratic elections – any student may nominate a candidate to be elected to the SUL. Any student may apply for the Board Member position subject to being nominated by any self-governance body of students; the respective decision-making body of the SUL votes for the candidates (the Council – in Board elections, the Congress – in presidential elections).

Role and Responsibilities

The main tasks of the SUL are related to representation of students’ interests at national and international level. The direction of activities of the organisation is determined by the SUL Guidelines – a mid-term planning document that specifies the main issues to be solved by the Board and the Council of the SUL within 5 years. The tasks included in the guidelines are based on high-quality development of higher education, availability of higher education to all social groups, development of the international dimension of higher education and strengthening of students’ movement.

The SUL represents students in all public authorities in the field of higher education (for instance, the Council of Higher Education, the Academic Information Centre, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Education, Culture and Science Committee of the Saeima, Latvian Rectors’ Council, etc.) supervising the development of draft decisions that affect students, as well as submitting new proposals for successful development of higher education in the event of necessity.

Funding

The funding of the SUL is ensured from the funding of the self-governance bodies of students of higher education institutions. The Law on Institutions of Higher Education establishes that self-governance bodies of students are funded from the budget of institutions of higher education in the amount of 1/200 from their total budget. Self-governance bodies of students as the members of the SUL have to pay membership fees from the said income. The membership fee is re-calculated on annual basis, and it is based on the number of students in the relevant institution of higher education.

School student union(s)

Structure

Self-governance body of school students – an institution established by school students nominated or elected from the class for the purpose of representing the school students’ interests, implementing new ideas, deciding on issues related to school life, organising entertaining and educational events, helping teachers with organising the learning process. (Explanatory Dictionary of Pedagogical Terms, 2000.)

Self-governance body of school students – an institution, where elected representatives of school students are engaged in.

Ideally, self-governance of school students should be an institution based on principles of democracy and freedom of choice as it will not be able to function effectively as a mandatory establishment. Moreover, self-governance of school students is an integral part of education process with a long history that gives a valuable investment in personal development. When we understand it, there are no more questions about the mandatory principle of the institution.

The regulatory enactments in the area of the educational system in Latvia do not include direct indications as to activities of self-governance of school students, however, its necessity is reflected in the provisions of several laws:

The Education Law (in force as of 1 June 1999)

Section 30. Head of an educational institution

(3) It is a duty of the head of an educational institution to ensure the creation of a self-governance body for the educational institution.

Section 31. Self-governance body of an educational institution

(1) The self-governance body of an educational institution is formed as a collegial institution that operates on the basis of the by-law thereof.

(2) Representatives delegated by the founder of the educational institution, students, their parents and employees of the institution operate in the self-governance body of the institution.

(3) The self-governance body of a basic and secondary educational institution:

1) elaborates proposals for the development of the educational institution;

2) ensures cooperation of the educational institution with parents of students;

3) submits proposals to the head of the educational institution regarding work organisation of the institution, budget allocation and implementation of educational programmes.

Similar provisions have been included in: the General Education Law (in force as of 10 June 1999) and the Vocational Education Law (in force as of 10 June 1999).

The Youth Law mentions self-governance bodies of school students and youth council of a local government

Section 5. Local government competence in the field of youth policy

(6) If a local government establishes a youth council, representatives of self-governance bodies of students, youth initiative groups and youth organisations are included in the composition thereof. The basic tasks of the youth council of a local government are as follows: 1) to participate in research and analysis of the interests and needs of young people, develop proposals for improvement of the quality of life of young people in the territory of the local government; 2) to foster cooperation and exchange of experience of local youth; 3) to facilitate cooperation between youth and local government, other youth councils, institutions and organisations; 4) to participate in the arrangements organised by the local government; 5) to disseminate information regarding opportunities for young people; 6) to engage in youth work of the local government and activities, projects and programmes implemented thereunder.

Section 7. Participation of young people in the development and implementation of youth policy

  1. Young people are entitled to participate in the development and implementation of youth policy;

  2. participating in self-governance bodies of educational institutions.

Composition

Taking into account that the laws and regulations governing the educational system in Latvia do not contain direct indications regarding the activity of self-governance bodies of school students, the structure and composition thereof has not been strictly regulated, each school establishes the self-governance body of school students on the basis of by-laws issued by the school; they are different for each school, however, the unifying features of self-governance bodies of school students might be:

  1. The President of the council of school students;

  2. The Deputy President of the council of school students;

  3. The Secretary of the council of school students;

  4. Members of the council of school students who work in different work groups (for instance, in the field of education, in the field of cultural events, etc.).

The meetings of the council of school students is chaired by the President thereof or during the President's absence – by the Deputy President.

Role and Responsibilities

Alongside provisions of the law, the tasks for the operation of self-governance bodies of school students have been set in several planning documents:

• Guidelines for the Development of Education for 2014–2020 (http://m.likumi.lv/doc.php?id=266406, in Latvian) 

• The Youth Policy Implementation Plan for 2016–2020 (http://likumi.lv/ta/id/281546-par-jaunatnes-politikas-istenosanas-planu-2016-2020-gadam, in Latvian)

• Youth policy national programme for current year (approved by an order of the Minister for Education and Science)

The tasks set for the development of activities of self-governance bodies of school students: to promote and expand youth initiatives, creative and civic activity, activating the work of self-governance bodies of school students; to foster participation of young people in decision-making, youth organisations and youth initiative groups, as well as engagement in volunteering, physical activities, sports and culture.

A direct reference to the necessity of establishing self-governance bodies of school students and their operation can be found in documents that are related to evaluation of the work of educational institutions.

Funding

There is no unified national model for financing of self-governance bodies of school students; it is determined by the approved budget of each school, activities implemented by students and attraction of other funding to such self-governance bodies of school students and their activities.

Other Bodies

Advisory Committees on Youth Affairs are institutions established by local governments with a particular function to implement youth policy and organize youth work.

Mostly, the tasks of such committees are to analyse, evaluate and draft proposals for youth policy, as well as to work on the strategy and implementation thereof in the municipality.

The objective of the committees is to attain cooperation and coordination of interests among local government and public bodies, educational institutions, enterprises and youth non-governmental organizations for drawing up targeted long-term youth policy and its implementation in the municipality. Members of the committees are usually representatives of local government and youth organizations, sometimes also representatives of youth initiative groups.

According to the Youth Law a youth organization is an association that is registered in the register of associations and foundations and in the list of youth organizations, where organizations meeting several criteria defined in the law are registered: (1) one of the purposes of activity specified in the articles of association of the association is the promotion of youth initiatives and participation in decision-making and social life; (2) the association carries out youth work and tasks of the association defined in the articles of association correspond to at least three main tasks defined in Section 2.1 Paragraph three of the Youth Law; (3) at least two thirds of the members of the association are children and young people or there are several associations, where at least two thirds of the total number of members are children and young people; and (4) participation of young people is ensured in the board of the association, and the procedures for this participation are specified in the articles of association of the respective association. Up to now, 26 organizations that meet the said criteria have been registered officially in the register of youth organizations of Latvia. 

Other bodies

Advisory Committees on Youth Affairs are institutions established by local governments with a particular function to implement youth policy and organize youth work.

Mostly, the tasks of such committees are to analyse, evaluate and draft proposals for youth policy, as well as to work on the strategy and implementation thereof in the municipality.

The objective of the committees is to attain cooperation and coordination of interests among local government and public bodies, educational institutions, enterprises and youth non-governmental organizations for drawing up targeted long-term youth policy and its implementation in the municipality. Members of the committees are usually representatives of local government and youth organizations, sometimes also representatives of youth initiative groups.

According to the Youth Law a youth organization is an association that is registered in the register of associations and foundations and in the list of youth organizations, where organizations meeting several criteria defined in the law are registered: (1) one of the purposes of activity specified in the articles of association of the association is the promotion of youth initiatives and participation in decision-making and social life; (2) the association carries out youth work and tasks of the association defined in the articles of association correspond to at least three main tasks defined in Section 2.1 Paragraph three of the Youth Law; (3) at least two thirds of the members of the association are children and young people or there are several associations, where at least two thirds of the total number of members are children and young people; and (4) participation of young people is ensured in the board of the association, and the procedures for this participation are specified in the articles of association of the respective association. Up to now, 26 organizations that meet the said criteria have been registered officially in the register of youth organizations of Latvia.