1.3 National youth strategy
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The National Youth Strategy (SER Strategija za mlade u Republici Srbiji) was adopted by the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia on 26 January 2023 for the period 2023– 2030. It represents a comprehensive document outlining priority objectives aiming to contribute to the vision of young people as active and equal participants in all areas of social life, who, with the support of society, fully develop their potential, well-being and personal and social life.
The Strategy represents a key mechanism for the implementation, coordination and improvement of youth policy and for creating a supportive and respectful environment for young people and their initiatives.
The Strategy should help base Serbian youth policy on complete, systematic and comprehensive information on the status and trends regarding young people in all areas of societyto ensure the knowledge of young people.
The dynamics of the implementation of the Strategy will be defined in three-year action plans. The first Action Plan will be adopted from 2023 to 2025, the second one from 2024 to 2028 and the third one from 2029 to 2030.
The National Youth Strategy is a guide for working with and for young people, intended for all youth policy actors. Moreover, it is a platform for action at the local, provincial, national and international levels.
A number of international documents are included in the framework of the Strategy, among others the UN Youth Strategy, the Council of Europe’s Youth Sector Strategy 2030 and the EU Youth Strategy 2019–2027.
The Strategy lays down the basic principles of action, directions and expected results of all youth policy actors’ activities (See Glossary) towards the improvement of the social position of young people and the creation of conditions for the full achievement of their rights and pursuit of interests in all areas.
The principles of the Strategy are the following:
- Respect for human and minority rights, equality and non-discrimination;
- Support for personal and social empowerment of youth;
- Equal opportunities for all;
- Cross-sectoral cooperation and coordination at all levels of decision-making;
- Active youth participation and cooperation;
- Social responsibility and solidarity;
The Strategy is based on the Government’s strategic orientation to work with and for young people. It aims at achieving the recognition of young people and their needs by the sectoral policies and facilitation of their participation in the strategic decision-making, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
The Strategy defines 5 specific strategic goals aiming to contribute to the general goal of improved quality of life of young people:
Specific goal 1: Youth work is standardised in the system of non-formal education and it is continuously implemented.
Specific goal 2: Spatial capacities and services for the implementation of youth policy have been improved and functional in all local authorities.
Specific goal 3: Young people are active participants in society at all levels.
Specific goal 4: Young people have equal opportunities and incentives to develop their potentials and competences which lead to social and economic independence.
Specific goal 5: Conditions for a healthy and safe environment and social well-being of young people are created.
The Strategy describes specific problems, planned activities that will be conducted by the key implementers and expected results that should help achieve 5 aforementioned strategic goals.
Target groups identified within the Strategy are young people in general including vulnerable social groups of young people. The Strategy includes different objectives that are related to young people from vulnerable social groups, marignalised young people and those at risk of social exclusion and poverty such as young people from NEET groups, young refugees and asylum seekers, young people with disabilities, Roma youth, LGBT+ youth, etc.
When it comes to participation of young people and their representatives in designing the Strategy, a Special Working Group for drafting the Strategy was formed, consisting of 27 members, representatives of all relevant state bodies and institutions, representatives of youth associations and young people. The major role was played by the representatives of associations/unions that were members of the Working Group. Through social networks, round tables and various consultations through associations and alliances, 6812 young people were informed and involved. In the consultation process, during the development of the new strategy, a total of 12 round tables were organized, in which 296 young people directly participated. Moreover, 31022 followers, including young people, were informed about the consultations through social networks of the Ministry. After the public discussion on the proposed Strategy for Youth written comments were received and considered.
The Ministry of Tourism and Youth is the top-level authority responsible for the coordination, development and improvement of youth policy, the National Youth Strategy, as well as other national plans and programmes for youth. The Government has the role in forming a working group responsible for the Strategy implementation monitoring. The working group’s tasks are to propose measures to harmonize the implementation of activities, monitor the implementation of the Strategy and take part in the evaluation and preparation of annual reports on the implementation of the Strategy. Throughout the process, the Ministry of Tourism and Youth provides professional, administrative and technical support to the working group. The Youth Council is involved in the monitoring of the implementation of the Strategy as well. All ministries involved in the work of the Youth Council prepare reports on the results achieved in working with youth and in the implementation of the Strategy. These reports are adopted at the meetings of the Council and publicly available on the Ministry’s website.
The main partners of the Ministry within civil society at the national level are:
- The National Youth Council of Serbia (SER Krovna organizacija mladih Srbije, KOMS) as the highest representative body of the young population;
- The National Association of Youth Work Practitioners (SER Nacionalna asocijacija praktičara/ki omladinskog rada, NAPOR), a vocational association of youth organisations whose mission is to create and develop conditions for quality assurance and recognition of youth work with the aim of developing the potential of youth and youth workers who contribute to the welfare of community and society;
- National associations of local youth offices that bring together coordinators of all local youth offices in Serbia.
To summarize, the Ministry of Tourism and Youth, the Government Working Group for the implementation of the Strategy and the Youth Council are in charge of carrying out regular annual evaluations. The line ministries are responsible for the preparation of the report for the Government. As for the progress reports on the implementation of the Strategy, the Ministry of Tourism and Youth and Youth Council are offcially in charge. The annual progress report on the implementation of the Strategy is submitted to the Government. The progress report is a publicly available document.
The first action plan for the implementation of the Strategy 2023- 2030 is in the process of making and should be adopted within 90 days from the day of the adoption of this strategy.
The Strategy 2023–2030 was preceded by the National Youth Strategy 2015–2025 which had been replaced before the expiration date for its implementation. It ceased to be applied as of the date of the publication of the new Strategy (Official Gazette of the RS, No. 22/15). The new Strategy had been adopted before the previous one expired, based on the perceived need to respond to the changed context caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the emergence of new strategic, national and international documents. During the five-year implementation process of the previous Strategy, two action plans were implemented: the Action plan for the implementation of the National Youth Strategy 2015–2017 and the Action plan for the implementation of the National Youth Strategy 2018–2020. In the same period, the Evaluation of the implementation of the action plan 2015–2107 was published, as well as the Report on the implementation of the National Strategy for Youth in the Republic Serbia 2015–2020.
The Strategy 2015–2025 was preceded by the National Youth Strategy 2008–2014 which expired on the date of publishing the Strategy 2015–2025 (Official Gazette of the RS, No. 55/8).