2.2 Administration and governance of youth volunteering
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Youth volunteering in Slovakia is not strictly regulated by the public authorities. Several institutions are involved in its management:
1. Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic (hereinafter MESRS) coordinates preparation and implementation of youth policy, including youth volunteering. IUVENTA – Slovak Youth Institute, an organisation managed directly by the Ministry, develops particular activities supporting youth volunteering. IUVENTA administers Programmes for Youth (national grant programme), as well as the EU Erasmus+ Programme for the field of youth and sport and European Solidarity Corps. IUVENTA provides mainly education, conceptual, information, research and supportive activities in the field of youth volunteering, e.g. Youth Report 2010, 2014, 2018, Strategy of the Slovak Republic for Youth (2014 – 2020), National coordinator of the European Year of Volunteering (2011), etc.
2. Ministry of Interior of the Slovak Republic, notably Office of the Government Plenipotentiary for the Development of Civil Society (hereinafter referred to as Office). Although the area of “youth “volunteering is not explicitly listed among the Office competences, it is implicitly included in many priorities and activities developed by the Office with the aim to implement Strategy of Civil Society Development in Slovakia till 2020. Ministry of Interior is also responsible for the legal issues regarding volunteering.
The above listed public authorities play roles of conceptual documents creators in the area of youth volunteering development and, being the case of the Ministry, also the role of financial support provider in the field of youth volunteering development in youth work.
These authorities do not take the initiative in activating organisations to reach aims and fulfill measures in the area of youth volunteering development. This task belongs to non-governmental organisations autonomously developing their activities.
3. Among the main actors representing the non-profit sector in the field of regulation and implementation of youth volunteering have been recognized the following ones:
The Platform of Volunteer Centres and Organisations (thereinafter referred to as Platform) was established in 2011, both as a result of activities organised within the European Year of Volunteering and activities of voluntary centres (existing in Slovakia since 2009). The Platform aims to support the creation of a favorable environment to support volunteering in all its forms and areas. Some examples of the Platforms’ activities are mentioned here: the building of voluntary centres, advocacy for volunteering towards government and public administration, supporting creation and development of volunteers’ coordinators in non-governmental and public organisations, promotion of volunteering as a tool of non-formal education and as a tool for preparation of young people for the labour market.
Youth Council of Slovakia (hereinafter referred to as RMS) gathers 29 non-governmental organisations devoted to children and youth and engaging more than 51 thousand members. RMS represents the interests of members towards government and public administration, networks organisations, guarantees the exchange of information and experience, organises education. RMS represents the Slovak Republic in the European Youth Forum.
Another significant element of volunteering infrastructure in Slovakia is represented by volunteer centres. The volunteer centres are service organisations. Those centres interconnect volunteers and organisations, promote volunteering, provide training courses, consultations, and supervisions in the field of volunteers management, they network volunteering organisations, develop companies’ volunteering, visualise the societal value of volunteering, create cross-sectoral partnerships between volunteering organisations, self-government and companies as well as they carry out researches in the field of volunteering – they observe development and trends in that area. Youth belongto the primary target group in all volunteer centres.
Children’s and youth volunteer organisations such as Slovak Scouts, Christian organisations e.g. DOMKA (Salesian Youth Association), eRko (Association of Youth Christian Companionships), INEX or smaller organisations having a local effect and providing leisure-time activities to children and young people, such MO Plusko, DO Fénix etc. are important key players in the development of volunteering.
Government Council for Non-Governmental Non-Profit Organisations is standing as an expert, advisory, coordination, and consultation body of the Slovak Government in the area of non-governmental organisations and civil society development.
A good example of cross-sectoral cooperation within youth volunteering is the creation of the Strategy of Education towards Volunteering, which was adopted by the MESRS in April 2018. The MESRS assigned the Platform of Volunteer Centres and Organisations with the elaboration of the strategy and also allocated financial resources for its creation. Subsequently, the representatives of the MESRS, IUVENTA, the Platform of Volunteer Centres and Organisations, several national non-governmental organisations, the Office of the Plenipotentiary of the Slovak Republic Government for the Civil Society Development, as well as primary-and-secondary-school teachers – all actively participated in the creation of the strategy.
There is also solid and long cooperation between the Office of the Government Plenipotentiary for the Development of Civil Society, working under the Ministry of Interior of the Slovak Republic and Platform of Volunteer Centres and Organizations and other organizations working in the volunteering field. In 2021 they together prepared new changes in the legislation in Volunteering.
The cross-sectoral cooperation also is seen between the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic in preparation of the Strategy of the Slovak Republic for Youth (2021-2028), as well as organizing Awards for Volunteers and prizes for Engaged Schools.