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In 2015 the Maltese Government revised its National Youth Policy for the fourth time. This document is entitled ‘Il-Politika Nazzjonali taż-Żgħażagħ Lejn l-2020 Viżjoni Komuni għall-Futur taż-Żgħażagħ’ – ‘National Youth Policy Towards 2020 A Shared Vision for the Future of Young People’.
The National Youth Policy is underpinned by three separate but interlocking pillars. The first pillar is the reality of the lives of young people in Malta; the second pillar relates to the development of youth policy over the past 20 years at both European and national levels; and the third pillar concerns greater democratic participation, equitable economic and social progress for all, and inclusive change.
The policy intends to effectively support and encourage young people in fulfilling their potential and aspirations while addressing their needs and concerns. It intends to support young people as active and responsible citizens who fully participate in and contribute to the social, economic and cultural life of Malta, Europe and beyond.
This document aims to achieve this through two different but interrelated strategies.
Strategy 1 focuses 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 relates to cross-sectoral support for young people which include the areas of education and training; health and well-being; employment and entrepreneurship; arts and culture; social inclusion; voluntary and community activities and sport and recreational activities.
The document focuses on all young people between 13 to 30 year olds.
Young people and youth organisations were directly consulted in the formulation of this document. The National Youth Council - Kunsill Nazzjonali taż-Żgħażagħ (KNŻ) - was part of the Policy Advisory Group appointed by the Ministry of Education and Employment during the drafting of the document. Also Aġenzija Żgħażagħ, the National Youth Agency, after the publishing of the first draft document held a seminar for Youth Organisations and organisations working with youth to gather their feedback on the document. Concurrently the Ministry of Education and Employment had launched the draft for public consultation, before the finalised version was published.
The Ministry for Inclusion and Quality of Life and the Parliamentary Secretary for Sports, Recreation and Voluntary Organisations have the overarching responsibility for the coordination and the implementation of the National Youth Policy. 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 of Strategy 1.
All other relevant Government Ministries and entities are responsible for the Strategy 2 depending on the area, for instance, Health and Well-being falls under the main responsibility of the Ministry for Health; Arts and Culture fall under the responsibility of the Ministry for Justice, Culture and Local Government. In both cases Aġenzija Żgħażagħ, the National Youth Agency, has the responsibility of promoting, coordinating and facilitating such cross-sectoral approaches.
The implementation of the National Youth Policy over the period 2015-2020, will be monitored on an ongoing basis by the Ministry for Education and Employment and the Parliamentary Secretariat for Youth and Sport and Voluntary Organisations. Aġenzija Żgħażagħ will employ its Annual Reports to record progress in relation to Strategy 1, while an inter-Ministerial group, led by Aġenzija Żgħażagħ, will be established to report annually on progress in relation to Strategy 2.
This document has a timeframe of 6 years. At the end of the period 2015-2020, an independent evaluation will be conducted on the overall impact of the policy and the benefits accruing for young people, the voluntary youth sector and the wider society.
The Government is committed to ensure that youth policy is evidence-based and outcome-focused. Priority will continue to be given to research as the Government believes that this provides all those working with and for young people with an invaluable tool and source of relevant and up-to-date information. The research programme for the period 2015-20 will target the main areas that concern young people today, such as education (including the digital divide and skills gaps), employment, environment, rights and responsibilities, health and well-being, and justice.
The National Youth Policy is a standalone document, however it gathers the vision of all the relevant Ministries as through its 10 Action plans it sets out the Government’s vision for young people. This frames this document as an integral part of the overall national development.
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 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 policy makers 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 documents 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 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. The document highlights priority areas such as education and training, employment and entrepreneurship, health and well-being, voluntary and community activities; sports and recreational activities.
The next revision of the National Youth Policy is envisaged for 2021.