1.6 Evidence-based youth policy
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According to the Act on Youth Work Support, the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic (hereinafter the MESRS) is obliged to analyze and evaluate the needs of young people.
Youth Strategy 2021 – 2028 considers research and youth policy cooperation to represent its key values, together with cross-sectorial approach, participation and inclusion. By participation it is understood, that the youth policy would be defined in dialog and in cooperation with researchers and experts in order to secure evidence-based youth policy. Participation also reflects the dialogue with young people during the whole process of youth policy-making. Data gathered by various researches created the source of background information for Youth Strategy 2021-2028. Its evaluation will be presented in the form of Youth Reports, therefore research data are required to prove the reliability.
In general, there are two terms used in youth policy: „knowledge–based youth policy“ and „youth policy based on the real needs of young people“. The first term is used for the creation of youth policy in cooperation with experts on the topics and experts on the youth as the social group. The second term encompasses consultations with young people as the starting point of youth policy. However, the official definition on „knowledge-based youth policy“ is not available in the Slovak legislation and official documents.
MESRS as the coordinator of youth policy maintains regular cooperation with representatives of youth research.
Mechanism of cooperation
- Online database of youth researches
- Involvement of youth researchers in youth policy documents’ preparation and evaluation.
The online database of youth research, formally called Data Archive of Youth Research (DAYR), has been running since 2006. Archive contains academic and ad-hoc research projects and surveys. Surveys and research projects are divided into two catalogues. Surveys based on mainly representative samples of youth in the Slovak Republic are collected in the Data Catalogue. The Data Catalogue allows the access to the survey list ordered by the year of data collection. Identification sheet of the survey enables direct access to the abstract, brief conclusions, research documentation (questionnaire), methodological procedure (sample, representativeness), to the data file and references to the publication of the survey results. Regional surveys or research projects without formalised identification sheets are placed in the Surveys – Data Catalogue (Prieskumy – katalóg dát).
There is no centralised/integrated and regularly updated statistical system on youth in the Slovak Republic.
No specific indicators have been established for the youth population.
The Centre of scientific and technical information of the Slovak Republic (Centrum vedecko-technických informácií SR) - CVTI, offer some data sources in the section Education Information in the subsection Youth and Sport, for example:
- Analysis of statistical data monitored in sport for 2019
- Data on Youth for 2019
- Data on civic associations in Slovakia for 2018
- Activity evaluation of Youth Information Centers for 2018
- Activity evaluation of Leisure-time Centers for 2018
Policy themes informed by research
Regular scientific data from the official research projects and surveys are provided in the field of education, employment, health, social inclusion, participation and volunteering. There is a lack of data conserning youth and culture.
Data on Education
Although MESRS is responsible for coordination of youth policy preparation and implementation, the majority of scientific research financed by MESRS is dedicated to the area of basic and applied research in education, pedagogy, creative and performing arts and other sciences linked to specific higher education institutions and the Slovak Academy of Science. MESRS runs two agencies to provide financial support to academic research: KEGA and VEGA. Not all research projects supported by KEGA and VEGA are focused on youth.
Data on Employment and Social Inclusion
In 2015 the main topics of interest were youth unemployment and young people with disabilities and their access to labour market. Research projects were carried out mainly by Institute for Labour and Family Research.
Data on Health
Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic supports surveys and research projects focused on children and youth in the following fields (see Department of Children and Youth Hygiene):
- protection of health of children and youth,
- trends in physical growth and development,
- prevention of risk behaviour,
- special problems of minority groups
During the years 2016-2019 the Public Health Authority of the Slovak Republic (run by the Ministry of Health) carried out a survey called Health awareness and behavior of Slovak population.
Extremism and radicalism as a threat to Slovak Youth
In 2016 far-right national populist neo-Nazi political party in Slovakia reached the legitimate number of voters and became a part of Slovak National Parliament. Since then various surveys (2016, 2018) showed that 20% of young people were strong supporters of radical movements. In 2017 – 2019 some state and public institutions conducted researches and started the discussion about extremism and radicalisation of Slovak youth with better knowledge of motivation, profile, background and other characteristics of young radicals (or other young people who support them). A survey by the Youth Council of Slovakia conducted in 2019 showed that every fifth young person would vote for the above mentioned extremist political party in the next parliamentary elections.
Young People and Risk of Extremism (Mladí ľudia a riziko extrémizmu, 2017) conducted by Institute for Public Affairs focused on values and attitudes of young people in light of their potential extremist preferences. Strategical Policy Institute was engaged in topic extremism, radicalisation and paramilitary groups (Mládež, radikalizmus a polovojenské organizácie, 2018) and correlations / motivations between them. In 2018 MESRS financially supported qualitative survey of Open Society Foundation focusing on the causes of radicalisation of young (14 – 18 years old) Slovaks (e.g. family background, the desire to belong somewhere, simple solutions to complicated problems etc.).
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Youth
According to some experts, young people are more vulnerable to the side effects of a pandemic, especially in the case of mental health. For example IPčko, the online counselling for youth, has experienced an increase in contacts with teenagers since the beginning of 2019. 21% more clients in contrast to the last years disscused the topic of suicide. As stated by IPčko, the COVID-19 pandemic and social isolation hit the group of young people the hardest. The one positive effect of pandemic is that the more open disscusion on mental health began.
The youth unemployment rate has risen much more sharply than the overall unemployment rate in the working-age population. The statistics of labor offices show that in December 2020, almost 11,000 school graduates were still unemployed, which is significantly more than in previous years.
Evidence-based evaluation of youth policies
Since 2010 the youth policy has been evaluated in the form of youth reports. The first Youth Report 2010 was prepared in order to evaluate individual areas of then in force national youth policy document.
National Youth Reports
Youth Report 2014 has been prepared in order to evaluate national youth policy, its outcomes and impacts in the period between 2011– 2013. The Youth Report 2014 was also the starting point for a new youth strategy preparation. Youth Report 2014 was established on the basis of information regarding the status of youth in the Slovak Republic, which was obtained from research and surveys. Strategy of the Slovak Republic for Youth 2014 – 2020 was prepared with regard to the findings of the Youth Report 2014.
Youth Report 2018 was adopted by The Slovak Government on the 13th of June. Wide discussion on the finding of Youth Report and on the further priorities of national Youth Strategy took place during National Confference on Youth (Národná konferencia 2MB).
Other data providers for some thematic fields of Youth Strategy 2014 – 2020.
The main providers of data on youth in Slovakia are MESRS (by the activities of CVTI), the Statistical Office of the Slovak Republic and the Central Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family.
Available statistics, updates and accessibility by various key players in youth policy:
- Demographic data on youth - annually updated, available on the web-site of the Statistical Office of the Slovak Republic
- Data on employment– monthly updated, available on the web-site of the Central Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family
Other data sources:
- Data connected to Implementation of Convention on the Rights of Child (e.g. state welfare benefits, injuries, child deaths, foster-care institutions, abuse and neglect of children, allowances for disabled, integration of children with special educational needs into the educational system etc.) – periodically updated reports by the Committee for Children and Youth of the Government Council for Human Rights, National Minorities and Gender Equality
- Longitudinal representative surveys of CVTI (previous Institute of Information and Prognoses of Education) aimed at human rights in a school-and-family environment, social - pathological phenomena in young people’s lives, drug consumption, lifestyles and value orientation, political and civic participation of youth etc.
- Data on human rights provided by the Slovak National Centre for Human Rights
Subsidy scheme of the MESRS, The Programs for Youth for 2014 - 2021" focus mainly on non-formal education in youth work and on the development of youth policy in Slovakia. In 2018, the Programme "Evidence on youth" focused on:
- obtaining relevant and reliable information on young people for needs the development of youth policy measures at various levels, through research;
- the cooperation and networking of the various actors active in youth research for the needs of youth policy-making.