5.8 Raising political awareness among young people
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Public body responsible for disseminating information about democratic rights and democratic values in general is the Office for Human and Minority Rights (Kancelarija za ljudska i manjinska prava). Additionally, the Ministry of Youth and Sport is the authority responsible for monitoring of Local Youth Offices. One of the main activities of the Local Youth Offices is informing the youth about important topics. Local Youth Offices organize workshops, debates, seminars and other types of events aiming to involve youth and inform them about different topics.
Important contribution to the promotion of democratic rights and values make non-governmental, civil society organisations, as well.
As already mentioned in section 5.3 Youth Representation Bodies, the National Youth Council (Krovna organizacija mladih Srbije, KOMS) as the biggest youth organization in Serbia, conducts numerous activities to promote human and democratic rights, inform youth and involve them in different projects and processes. Furthermore, KOMS participates in EU Youth Dialogue representing Serbian youth and their vision at the European level.
Large-scale, youth-targeted information campaign aiming to promote tolerance and reduce violence in schools has been active since 2005.
More precisely, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development implements numerous activities and campaigns against violence in schools and among peers. Umbrella programme for these activities is the programme “School without Violence” (“Škola bez nasilja”). The programme aims to prevent and reduce violence in schools, with the ultimate goal to support the development of the enabling and stimulating school environment and the safe surroundings for students. The programme has begun in 2005. and still remains active.
Another important initiative is the project “Stop Digital Violence” (“Zaustavimo digitalno nasilje”) of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development. Within this project, following activities are being conducted: promotional campaigns, educational trainings and conferences, development of manuals, etc. All these activities target students and pupils active on the internet. One of the important outputs of the project is the manual “Digital Violence – Prevention and Response” (priručnik “Digitalno nasilje – prevencija i reagovanje”).
In order to prevent violence and discrimination in schools, the National Platform "I keep you safe" ("Čuvam te") was launched in March 2021 by The Government of the Republic of Serbia. Since the partners on the project are several line ministries as well as civil society organisations, a particular goal of the project is coordination and strengthening of cross-sectoral cooperation of all relevant institutions in the fight against violence. The platform integrates different aspects of prevention and tools to combat violence involving children and youth, such as informative and educational content as well as online service to report violence.
Starting 2019, in partnership with the Faculty of Political Sciences – University of Belgrade and with the support of Ministry of Education of the Republic of Serbia, Westminster Foundation for Democracy has been conducting the Popular Democracy project. It is a youth-based project aiming to inform and educate high school students (first-time voters) throughout the country on democracy, elections and civic activism.
As already mentioned, the National Youth Council of Serbia (Krovna organizacija mladih Srbije, KOMS) is the biggest representative youth body in Serbia gathering over 100 youth and for youth organisations. One of its main roles is enabling and encouraging youth dialog. The Ministry of Youth and Sports recognizes the role that KOMS has in Serbian and Regional society and supports different KOMS initiatives.
The most important KOMS initiative related to youth dialogue is the development, promotion and maintenance of the digital platform Dijalog.rs. This platform is the cornerstone for establishment of structured dialog among youth. On the platform young people can make comments on different initiatives of public authorities, on youth policies, or provide their opinion that will be included in public hearings on different subjects. The idea behind the platform is to enable that the recommendations and opinions of young people find their place in local, national and even European policies.
There are no policy frameworks or guidelines for youth-tailored communication that public institutions should follow in order to enhance the transparency of their policies and decision-making procedures. There is no large-scale programme training policymakers in communicating with the youth.