5.3 Youth representation bodies
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A Youth Parliament is established annually by the National Youth Council according to the latter’s statute. This platform does not form part of the country’s constitutional structure and is supervised by the National Youth Council.
The Youth Parliament has no fixed number of members. Interested young people apply to form part of the youth parliament through a call issued annually by the National Youth Council. The youth parliament is divided into two groups. One group is for young people between 13 and 18 years old and another for those between 19 and 35 years of age. The mandate of the youth parliament is for a year.
The two age groups are divided into three further groups. Each of these six groups work on a resolution and later present it to their peers for amendments. During this period, they meet as often as necessary to finalise the resolutions.
The Youth Parliament has 2 main aims. The first to present the finalised resolutions in a session of parliament. Then the resolutions are also presented to the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the President of the Republic. The second is that the Youth Parliament serves as a form of training and political simulation for the young people participating in it. In this sense, the Youth parliament serves both as an opportunity to learn to participate and participate to learn.
The National Youth Council funds the Youth Parliament.
Additionally since 2018, after the lowering of the voting age to 16 years, through a budgetary measure, the Government committed itself to enhancing the remit of the National Youth Parliament. In this regard, in an effort to increase young people’s political awareness that facilitates their critical engagement in democratic processes, Aġenzija Żgħażagħ – the National Youth Agency – was charged with providing a non-formal education training programme for young people interested in the Youth Parliament.
This materialised in a non-formal education programme entitled Young Parliamentarians.
This programme gives young people, aged 13-16 years old, the opportunity of representing their respective schools in a debating competition #ejjewniddibattu. It is run in 3 phases. During the first phase, young participants will receive training on different political systems, highlighting the Maltese system including Parliamentary, policy and electoral systems, public speaking and debating; pitching, formulating policy recommendations, and lobbying. This phase is then followed by a second phase where young participants will get together and work on developing a number of policy recommendations on topics that impact their well-being. The third phase and final phase will take the form of a debating society where young participants will have the opportunity to take part in a debating competition where they would debate the recommendations that they themselves would have formulated during the third phase.
This training will be offered by youth workers employed by Aġenzija Żgħażagħ and the winning school receiving the Youth Parliamentarians trophy and a prize of Eur 750 and the runners-up Eur 250.
Such training is envisaged to empower young people to participate in the National Youth Parliament organised by the National Youth Council and also other political participation projects such as the Model European Parliament, Youth Local Councils or School Councils.
National Youth Council
Following a recommendation in the first National Youth Policy Document in 1993, a National Youth Council – Kunsill Nazzjonali Żgħażagħ (KNŻ) – was established. However, there are no legal frameworks that establish the Council. The Council operates at a national level. It is an autonomous non-governmental youth organisation and does not form part of the country’s constitutional structure.
The age range of the Council members is between 15 and 35 years old. There are no special public measures or guidelines facilitating greater inclusiveness and diversity, however, any young person nominated by a youth organisation that is a full member of the National Youth Council can be a candidate.
The National Youth Council has 4 Statutory Bodies mainly:
The General Assembly: This is the highest organ of the National Youth Council and has the authority to decide on any matter raised. The General assembly is composed of representatives of each member organisation, together with the Executive Committee. Amongst other functions, the General assembly is responsible for the admission of new members in the National Youth Council; appointing the Executive Committee for the upcoming term; approving the Annual Report of the preceding year; approving the Financial Report of the preceding year; appointing the Vigilance Board for the upcoming term; appointing the Auditors for the upcoming year.
The Annual General Assembly meets in November, however, an Extraordinary General Assembly may convene whenever this is requested by a simple majority of members during the Organisations' Committee, the Executive Committee, or the Vigilance Board or else by 40% of all members within KNŻ.
The Organisations' Committee: This body is composed of the Executive Committee and a representative of each Member Organisation and is convened at least once every three months. This body may also be convened by the Executive Committee whenever a demand is made by at least 5 Member Organisations The Organisations' Committee is responsible for discussing and deciding any issue raised by the Executive Committee or the Member Organisations; during the first meeting after the General Assembly, approving the Work plan proposed by the Executive Committee; drafting and adopting any policies or regulations upon a recommendation made by the Executive Committee.
The International Committee: This committee is appointed by the Executive Committee after the General Assembly is composed of the International Secretary of the Executive Committee as Chairperson; any other Member from the Executive Committee as Vice-Chair; the President and the Secretary-General of the Executive Committee, or their representatives, ex-officio; two representatives appointed by the Organisations' Committee; representatives of the National Youth Council elected in any European Youth Forum Organ; other persons, as appointed by the Executive Committee, who have gathered experience in International Relations and are currently elected or appointed to represent their organisation in an International Organisation; International Secretaries of Member Organisations who want to join the International Committee. The International Committee is convened whenever this is necessary but must be convened prior to any statutory meeting of the European Youth Forum.
The Vigilance Board: This Board is appointed and approved by the General Assembly and it is responsible to decide on any disciplinary issue raised by the Executive Committee, the Organisations' Committee or any Member Organisation and assure that the National Youth Council's Statute is not infringed and also give its interpretation on its provisions whenever this is requested The Vigilance Board is composed of a Chairperson and two other members, together with a supplementary member. Members of the Vigilance Board may not be members of the Executive Committee.
The Executive Committee: The Executive Committee is elected and approved by the General Assembly and is made up of 13 members and is responsible for the administrative and executive direction of the Council. The executive convenes at least once a month and holds office for 2 years.
The main role and responsibility of the National Youth Council is to represent the interests of Maltese youth organizations and also to work for the interests and needs of unorganized young people both at national and international levels. The Council does so by:
- promoting the participation of young people in society;
- promoting a spirit of cooperation, pluralism, and equality among young Maltese people;
- promoting Maltese culture among young people;
- serving as a medium for the exchange of ideas and information among young people;
- assisting youth organizations in their objectives;
- making proposals for government assistance programmes to the Ministry responsible for youth;
- raising awareness among Maltese people for a wide variety of cultural activities and entertainment;
- organising social, educational, and cultural activities that interest all Maltese young people;
- monitoring and evaluating the work of the Government, especially in the youth field and by actively contributing to the preparation of the National Youth Policy.
The National Youth Council receives public funding. This funding is audited every six months and a report is sent to the Ministry of Education and Employment.
Council for Children
The Office for the Commissioner for Children through The Commissioner for Children Act also sets up a Council for Children which consists of various representatives from Ministries as well as six young people between the ages of 13 and 17 years old. This Council supports the Commissioner in the work carried out by her Office. The young people not only learn more about their rights but also guide the Commissioner with regard to the realities faced by children and young people, as well as the most effective way to create awareness.
The University Students’ Council – Kunsill Studenti Universitarji - is an independent body at the University of Malta. The official organs of Kunsill Studenti Universitarji are the General Meeting, the Executive, the Education Commission, and the Social Policy Commission. The General Meeting is the highest institution within the KSU structure.
The University Students’ Council is composed of an executive of 13 people. 11 members of the executive are elected through a general election for a one-year term. The candidates are chosen by political organisations on campus and selected in a manner that covers all faculties and institutions within the university to ensure full representation. The remaining two candidates are elected through the education and social policy commissions and are independent candidates. The Council represents approximately 13,000 students from both the University of Malta and Junior College.
The executive is made up of five members at an administrative level, and four offices, with two members in each office. The offices are social policy, education, international, and entertainment. The social policy and education commission meetings take place at least once a month, while the executive meets on a regular basis.
The main roles and responsibilities of the Kunsill Studenti Universitarji are to:
- serve and represent students in all that is in their interest;
- serve as an official means of communication between students and the relevant authorities;
- give voice, strength, and power to students;
- promote the value of lifelong learning;
- cultivate an educational, social, and cultural awareness among students;
- work to protect the rights listed in the Charter of Students’ Rights.
KSU does not receive any public funding. The council depends on its main partners and its own activities to be able to sustain itself. KSU holds an annual audit and financial statements are presented to its stakeholders, the students, during the annual general meeting. A vote is also taken during the Annual General Meeting to approve the financial year.
The Kunsill Studenti MCAST – MCAST Student Council – is a student representative body at the Malta College for Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST). The Council consists of 10 members, which are elected by the students. Each member has the role of representing a different institute from MCAST. The role of the student council is to promote the college's interest and to enhance the involvement of the students in the affairs of the college the student council is to promote the interests of the college and to improve the involvement of students in the affairs of the college.
The main aims are:
• To represent the student requests and opinions to MCAST administration.
• To improve the communication and relationship between students, management, and administration.
• Organising activities
• To improve the environment at the college
• To support the management and administration in the development of the college
• To acknowledge and keep the students updated on the college’s general matters
• To provide information and consultation to students and giving the opportunity to the student to give his/her input on matters regarding the students themselves.
• To provide opportunities to the students as discussions, information, and consultation about matters which concern the students
The Kunsill Studenti Junior College (KSJC) - Junior College Student Council - is an independent organisation that represents all Junior College students. The KSJC is made up of 8 board members that are elected by fellow Junior College students in an election that is held every year.
The board members’ roles and functions are defined by the KSJC statute whereby the Board Members are obliged to work and respect that framework. At the end of the term, KSJC holds an Annual General Meeting whereby the students approve or disapprove of the council’s work in the past year. Elections are then held to elect a new council. These elections may be contested by anyone, as long as they are Junior College students. The elected team will work on organizing educational and recreational activities that cater to the student’s needs. The students are presented with a set of proposals from the contenders and are left free to deliberate and make up their minds. The KSJC aims to:
- Represent JC students on a national and international level;
- Intervenes in order to voice students’ concerns in any difficulty;
- Safeguard their interest and strengthen their rights;
- Fulfill students’ needs with regards to JC matters or any other student-related issues;
- Promote education and cultural activities amongst students.
The Giovanni Curmi Higher Secondary School (GCHSS) School Student Representative Council (SRC), is a student representative council within the GCHSS. The aim of this council is to represent students’ interests in any matter which is of concern to them. The council’s primary goal is to provide students with opportunities to participate in the school’s management while advocating for higher standards of school services. In this regard, the SRC serves as a link between students, staff, and the administration of GCHSS by providing an accessible platform for open discussions. The SRC also works to enable students at GCHSS to become responsible leaders in the community and to instill in them a sense of active citizenship. The SRC strives to eliminate any form of inequality, negative discrimination, or injustice against students.
Maltese secondary level students have Student Councils representing their interests but there is no established network of interlinked student representation bodies. The establishment of such councils is referred to in several documents such as Democracy In Schools – Setting Up Of Student Councils and Class Committees (1999); National Minimum Curriculum (1999); For All Children To Succeed (2005) and National Curriculum Framework (2012).
Student Councils in each school are often guided by their Link Teacher/s (voluntary), who link with the school administration and the rest of the school. At a departmental level, help and guidance are provided by a Head of the Department (Citizenship Education). Each Student Council has its own statute and is composed of its members and officials: president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, and public relations officer.
Since the scholastic year 2019-2020, Aġenzija Żgħażagħ -The National youth Agency – started running the School Council Democracy Awards. This programme is offered to all secondary schools and post-secondary schools in Malta and Gozo. Participating student councils compete for Gold, Silver, and Bronze Awards as they implement their Student Council Action Plans over a period of one scholastic year. This programme is underpinned by the values of democracy, active citizenship, participation, dialogue, leadership, and equality. Training is provided to both Link teachers and young people. Eur 150 and Eur 300 are granted to secondary and post-secondary schools respectively as an incentive to take part in this programme and start running the council. A toolkit guides the process and youth workers are available to support the student councils and the school coordinators.
Aġenzija Żgħażagħ in collaboration with the Office for People with Disability issued an expression of interest for young people aged 18-24 to join a consultative body of young people with disability called the Youth Disability Forum. This consultative body is intended to offer a voice for these young representatives to voice their concerns and propose recommendations to stakeholders on matters related to young people with disability and, will enable them to develop and reach their full potential in an inclusive Maltese society that offers equal opportunities, and space to young people with disability. The purpose of this body is also to advocate and highlight barriers that impede young disabled people from participating fully in society. This same concept will also be used with young migrants.
Model European Parliament – Malta. As the national coordinator of MEP Europe in Malta, Aġenzija Żgħażagħ organises national sessions to select and prepare Maltese delegates to take part in international sessions which are held in different European destinations every 6 months. Young people aged 16-19 can apply for these national sessions. The best 5 national delegates are then invited to take part in the international session. Traveling costs are subsidised to incentivise all young people to participate, especially those who would otherwise be unable to manage the financial cost of taking part in an international session.
The Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Enterprise together with the National youth Council and with the support of Aġenzija Żgħażagħ launched the SDG Champions Initiative. Through this project, 5 young people were appointed to work with and inspire other young people to bring about sustainable change. These young people will be representing and advocating for the 5 Pillars of the SDGs. The SDG Champions were launched during an activity entitled ‘Youths discuss the future sustainability of the Maltese islands’ organised by the Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Enterprise and Aġenzija Żgħażagħ.
Aġenzija Żgħażagħ together with the Directorate for Learning and Assessment Programs launched a programme called Impatt. Through this programme youth students aged 13-15 are encouraged to team up and participate in democratic decision-making at both local and national levels. Participating students research historical and cultural heritage pertaining to several Maltese localities in which the schools are found while analysing how the course of time impacted their respective social, environmental, economic, and cultural dimensions. This initiative also requires participating students to draft brief proposals and present these proposals to their respective Local Councils, to ensure further sustainable development aligned with Malta’s Sustainable Development Vision 2050. The chosen theme got 2023 is Ocean Literacy.
Aġenzija Żgħażagħ launched Idejazzjonisti a program for young people between 14 and 18 who want to participate in their communities as active citizens. Groups of up to 5 young people join together and to come up with a proposal concerning the preservation and conservation of a particular element in their locality. The proposals will then be presented to Policymakers on local and National levels.