1.3 National youth strategy
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In 2021 the Maltese Government revised its National Youth Policy for the fifth time. This document is entitled Towards 2030: Reaching out to, working with and supporting young people.
The National Youth Policy is formulated using two dimensions. Firstly, it considers the changing circumstances, the present challenges and the new opportunities for young people in Malta. Secondly, it looks back and keeps building upon policy foundations and successes in Malta and Europe.
The policy acknowledges that young people today are confronted with new developments in the ways and means of learning; often rapid economic change, social dislocation and growing, if uneven, affluence; increasing urbanization and rural isolation; and the effects of climate change and threats to the natural environment. Moreover, personal factors such as location, environment, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic background, religious beliefs, cultural background, and sexual orientation are some of the characteristics that differentiate young people making them a heterogeneous group. Consequently, young people require support and different resources based on their differing characteristics, aspirations and needs.
The document sets a vision through which young people should be respected, valued and listened to and be supported and encouraged in building fulfilling personal and social relationships, in developing their innate abilities and talents for the benefit of themselves, their communities and society and in empowering them to take action on global issues.
The overarching aims of the national youth policy are to effectively support and encourage young people in fulfilling their potential and aspirations while addressing their needs and concerns, and to effectively support young people as responsible citizens who participate in and contribute to the social, economic, political and cultural life of the nation and Europe and in addressing global issues.
Achieving these aims will be pursued by reaching out to, connecting with, and listening to
the voices of young people in the community; in the schools and other education/training institutions; in the workplace and through social media.
The document puts forth 8 strategic goals, each accompanied by a group of implementing actions.
- Strategic Goal 1
To listen to and support the voices of young people and raise awareness among young people of issues that impact on their everyday lives and provide youth information.
- Strategic Goal 2
To conduct research on the lives of young people to ensure a knowledge-based policy approach.
- Strategic Goal 3
To further facilitate young people’s transition to adulthood.
- Strategic Goal 4
To provide proactive and responsive regional, local and schools-based support and services that enable young people to learn, work in and contribute to their communities and the wider society and create an environment that fosters equality, inclusion, educational and economic opportunity, and democratic participation and accountability.
- Strategic Goal 5
To support a wide-range of national programmes, projects and cross-sectoral initiatives for young people that promote and foster their wellbeing, creativity, cultural and artistic expression and innovation and engagement in addressing global issues for sustainable development.
- Strategic Goal 6
To promote and facilitate cross-sectoral initiatives with the voluntary, state and private sectors that adopt an integrated and cohesive approach to meeting young people's needs and fulfilling their aspirations.
- Strategic Goal 7
To further enhance and develop effective youth work practice.
- Strategic Goal 8
To ensure effective coordination and cohesion in the implementation of the national youth policy and maximise its potential for supporting young people.
The document focuses on all young people between 13 to 30 year olds.
A draft document was initially launched for public consultation. The Parliamentary Secretary for Youth entrusted Aġenzija Żgħażagħ and the National Youth Council, to devise a strategy to engage young people in this consultation process. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, Aġenzija Żgħażagħ and the National Youth Council opted to involve young people through e-participation using the OPIN.me e-participation platform to facilitate this process. The document was also published for public consultation on the Government’s online platform in the Autumn of 2020.
Youth policy falls under the overarching responsibility of the Parliamentary Secretariat for Youth, Research and Innovation within the Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation. Aġenzija Żgħażagħ, the National Youth Agency, which is the operating arm of the Parliamentary Secretariat is responsible for the strategic planning and day-to-day operational matters related to youth policy
Aġenzija Żgħażagħ, the National Youth Agency, is also responsible for promoting, coordinating and facilitating cross-sectoral initiatives.
The implementation of the National Youth Policy is over the period 2021-2030, the implementation will be monitored on an ongoing basis. Aġenzija Żgħażagħ will employ its Annual Reports to record progress on the implementation of the national youth policy and achievement of its strategic goals. Annual Reports will also aim to include data on the nature, extent and level of young people's participation in youth work and youth services in Malta.
A mid-term review of the national youth policy and its implementation will take place in 2025/26 to ensure that it continues to be relevant and responsive to the needs and aspirations of young people and any proposed amendments or additions will be incorporated as part of the policy. At the end of the period 2021-2030, an independent evaluation will be conducted on the overall impact of the policy and the benefits accruing for young people and the wider society.
The very first Parliamentary Secretariat for Youth in Malta was appointed in 1990. Two years later in, 1992 the Kunsill Nazzjonali taż-Żgħażagħ (KNŻ) and an Institute for Youth Studies at the University of Malta were set up. The former was established as a non-governmental organisation to represent the interest of young people through its member organisations while the latter was established to provide professional training for youth workers (Teuma, 2014). During that same year the Parliamentary Secretariat was elevated to the level of a Ministry and riding on that momentum it launched the first National Youth Policy document in 1993. The document recognised the value of young people as a major human resource and provided a framework and objectives for those working with young people. It highlighted youth information, education, employment, health, culture, family and mobility as policy priority areas.
The policy document was revised and in 1999 a second updated version of the national youth policy was issued. This version increased the targeted cohort by including young people between the age of 14 and 30 years old. The new document aimed at providing young people and policymakers with clear objectives in the political, social and economic development targeting a wide range of policy areas such as education, employment, health, housing, culture, intergenerational communication, sport, leisure and enterprise.
At this point, Malta had representation on the European Steering Committee for Youth and this led to a successful application for a youth policy review by a group of experts appointed by the Council of Europe. The Review Team visited Malta in 2003, and later that year presented a report to the Parliamentary Secretariat (Ciorbaru, 2005). Following this report, the national youth policy document was revised and updated for a third time in 2004. The priority areas for this policy document were Education; Employment; Health; Culture; Environment; Leisure; Mobility; Participation; Information Technology and Youth at Risk. The document also called for the establishment of a national youth agency that would replace the Youth Services Department within the Ministry of Education in monitoring the policy implementation.
Another revision of the national youth policy was published in 2010. This was the first revision since Malta’s accession to the European Union and as such, it was rooted and reflected European Youth Policy documents. The definition of youth was again extended to include young people between the ages of 13 and 30 years old. This document intended to target the holistic development of young people and highlighted a wide range of key areas, namely, education, employment, health and wellbeing, youth justice, transition, culture and arts, community cohesion and volunteering, sports, leisure, environment and information technology. Most importantly it established an instrument for policy implementation – Aġenzija Żgħażagħ – the National Youth Agency (Teuma, 2014; Legal Notice 522/2010).
In 2014, the Parliamentary Secretariat for Research, Innovation, Youth and Sport set up a youth policy advisory group to update the 2010 document and in 2015 a new youth policy document entitled 'National Youth Policy – Towards 2020. A Shared Vision for the Future of Young People' was published. This document aimed to achieve its targets through two different but interrelated strategies. Strategy 1 focused on the ‘core’ services and activities such as youth work and services for young people including non-formal education, participation, mobility and youth information. Strategy 2 is related to cross-sectoral support for young people which includes the areas of education and training; health and well-being; employment and entrepreneurship; arts and culture; social inclusion; voluntary and community activities and sports and recreational activities.
In 2021 the government launched the sixth revision of the National Youth Policy up to Towards 2030. The next revision of the National Youth Policy is envisaged for 2031.