5.8 Raising political awareness among young people
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In the Netherlands there are important information providers related to raising the political awareness of young people. This includes the provision of information about democratic rights and values. The first public body that is responsible for this is ProDemos (in English). It is called the House for Democracy and the Rule of Law. Their job is to help explain the systems that govern democracy and the rule of law, and to show what citizens themselves can do to exert political influence – at the municipal, provincial, national and European level. For schools Prodemos organizes political excursions, guest teachers, roleplays and lesson material on current topics related to democracy and rule of law. The second public body is the youth wing of political parties, with campaigns that make youth aware of their rights. ROOD (RED) (only in Dutch) is the youth wing of the political party Socialistische Partij (Socialist Party). This youth wing is active in setting up panels about the rights of students. The two information providers have a contact centre (also online) that young people can access to receive information. Both organizations receive public financial support.
There is, however, no top level framework for youth information and counselling structures. The National Youth Council states in its policy report 2016-2020 (only in Dutch) that a consultation law/framework should be adopted. This consultation law/framework should describe that policymakers have to consult youth.
Currently the Netherlands has no major youth-targeted information campaigns about democratic rights. A few years ago youth-targeted information campaigns existed. However, there are awareness raising actions such as the Liberation festival (Bevrijdingsfestival) that targets a young audience by appointing young artists and bands as ambassadors of freedom (ambassadeurs van de vrijheid). Every year on 4 May the Dutch commemorate the victims of war. On 5 May the Dutch celebrate the fact that they were liberated. These two days carry the theme of democracy.
In the Netherlands there are initiatives and projects that promote the intercultural dialogue of young people from different cultural backgrounds, but not at the national level. In paragraph 5.4 the large-scale initiative Idebate was mentioned. This intercultural dialogue also takes place through schools. Another example is Model United Nations (only in Dutch) in which students can participate. The conferences (in English) are experiential learning programmes that provide students with a better understanding of the inner workings of the UN and a forum to practice skills in diplomacy, negotiation, critical thinking, compromise, public speaking, writing, and research.
As mentioned in paragraph 5.8.1 there is no top level policy framework or guideline on transparent public communication targeting young people. Usually politicians call on commercial communication agencies to disseminate their views. Public communication experts have little knowledge of how to approach young people and are hardly aware of resources and channels that could be used.
In the absence of such a framework, the National Youth Council plays an important role in raising awareness, by lobbying the government, but also through the so-called Jargonbrigade (only in Dutch). This is an activity organized by the National Youth Council. The board of the Jargonbrigade consists of eight young people. Their aim is to make politicians speak more plainly and clearly. Most politicians use abstract and complicated language making it difficult for young people to understand and to join in the discussion. Therefore once a year the Jargonbrigade, during the General Political Debate (Algemene Beschouwingen) in September, visits the House of Representatives to assess the language used by politicians. Politicians who use clear language get a Clear Language award (Klare Taalprijs). Politicians who do not use clear language get an Unclear Language award (Zwetsprijs). This activity is not supported financially by the government.
No information has been found regarding national or large-scale programmes on providing training for policy makers at various levels to provide suitable and youth-tailored communication.