5.3 Youth representation bodies
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There is a Children’s Parliament (Otroški parlament), a body that includes representation from children (primary school pupils). There is also the European Youth Parliament Slovenia, which was founded in 2013 and is a member of EYP international network.
The National Youth Council of Slovenia
The top-level legal frameworks establishing youth councils and other youth organisations in Slovenia are the Public Interest in Youth Sector Act (Zakon o javnem interesu v mladinskem sektorju) and the Youth Council Act (Zakon o mladinskih svetih), both of which define the National Youth Council of Slovenia (Mladinski svet Slovenije) as a voluntary association of national youth organisations with the status of an organisation in the public interest in the youth sector. Apart from a nation-level youth council, local communities’ youth councils are also envisioned, but they have been set up only in a few local settings. Youth councils are not part of the country’s fundamental institutions as mentioned in the constitution.
The National Youth Council of Slovenia has 11 full member organisations and two associated member organisations (28 October 2020). It is accountable to its member organisations and composed of an assembly, a supervisory board and a board. The assembly is composed of two representatives from each of the 11 full-member organisations and a president of the National Youth Council. The Assembly meets at least twice per year. For the supervisory board and board positions, elections are held every two years. An individual can serve up to three consecutive terms and must not be older than 33 years of age on election day. The supervisory board meets at least once a year. Candidates for elected office can be proposed by member organisations, and the selection process is fully in the domain of member organisations. Nominations for board membership include written support for candidacy by at least four member organisations in addition to the organisation proposing the candidate. Elections are held by secret ballot. Public measures for facilitating greater inclusiveness or diversity do not exist.
Role and responsibilities
The National Youth Council defends the interests of young people and promotes youth participation in the formulation of policies that have a significant impact on their lives and work. In a narrower sense, it strives to improve the situation of young people as a specific social group. It encourages the development of voluntary organising by young people and seeks to strengthen the activity of youth organisations, irrespective of their different interests and ideological or political orientation. The National Youth Council aims to encourage the development of youth organisations as an instrument for active participation by young people in public life at all levels.
The National Youth Council’s responsibilities are: - the creation of youth policies - youth advocacy - cooperation with government institutions - international cooperation - preparation of various trainings and educational materials - promotion of volunteering - cooperation with academia - providing information - coordination of youth councils - statutory activities and other activities for member organisations - implementation of different projects.
The Council’s role in policy-making:
- under the Youth Council Act and the Public Interest in Youth Sector Act, the National Youth Council is involved in a civil dialogue
- participation in the framework for the Council of the Government for Youth
- individual cooperation with the Ministries.
The National Youth Council receives public funding. Its resources are acquired from membership fees and other contributions from member organisations, the state budget and the budgets of local communities, property rights and donations, as well as other sources. The main funders are the Office of the Republic of Slovenia for Youth, the National Agency of the programme Erasmus+: Youth in Action and the European Youth Foundation. When using funds, the National Youth Council is accountable to the Office of the Republic of Slovenia for Youth.
Council of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia for Youth
In 2009, the Slovenian Government established the Council of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia for Youth (Svet Vlade RS za mladino). The Council is not one of the country’s fundamental institutions mentioned in the constitution.
The Office for Youth performs professional, organisational and administrative tasks for the Council.
Some municipalities have a special body (e.g., committee, commission) for youth, where young people are involved and can participate. They connect local youth organisations and represent the basic structure for participation of young people in public affairs at local level.
The Council is comprised of representatives from youth organisations and various ministries on an equal basis. It is chaired by the Minister of Education, Science and Sport.
The Council has a president and 19 members, appointed by the principle of bipartite composition (balance between the government and the youth sector).
Representatives of youth organisations and associations:
- three representatives of the national youth organisations
- one representative of the National Youth Council of Slovenia
- one representative of the local community youth councils
- one representative of the Slovenian Student Union
- one representative of the Secondary-School Student Organisation of Slovenia
- one representative of youth organisations in the representative trade unions
- one representative of the youth centres
- one representative of other NGOs active in the youth field.
The representatives of the Government:
- Minister of Education, Science and Sport as the President
- one representative of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food
- one representative of the Ministry of Culture
- one representative of the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities
- one representative of the Ministry of Public Administration
- one representative of the Ministry of Health
- one representative of the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning
- one representative of the Office of the Prime Minister
- one representative of the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy
- one representative of the Office of the Republic of Slovenia for Youth.
The Council meets at least quarterly.
Role and responsibilities
The Council’s work is regulated in the Rules of Procedure of the Council of the Government for Youth (Poslovnik Sveta Vlade RS za mladino). The Council is a consultative body that proposes measures and monitors the consideration of youth interests in various public policies at national level. The Council gives the Government and the responsible ministries incentives and suggestions for the regulation of youth matters and, in particular, promotes youth participation in these processes.
The Council of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia for Youth is envisioned as performing the following tasks (see Article 8 of the Public Interest in Youth Sector Act):
- to monitor, determine and assess the situation of youth in society
- to monitor and assess the consideration of the proposals on youth that relate to social changes
- propose measures in the youth sector and monitor the implementation of interests of youth in other policies at a national level
- to consider the proposals of acts and other regulations and measures of the Government relating to the field of youth work, youth policies and the life of youth in general, and give opinions on the act proposals
- to discuss current issues relating to youth and give opinions as to the competency of institutions on these issues
- give incentives and proposals for settling particular youth
- give proposals and recommendations relating to financing youth activities
- to consider the trends of programming and financial planning for youth organisations and other organisations participating in the youth sector
- to give the Government and the competent ministries proposals, incentives and recommendations for implementing the commitment towards strengthening the youth dimension in particular sectoral public policies
- stimulate the participation of youth in various consulting and decision-making bodies at national and local levels.
The activities of the Council are funded by the budget of the Office of the Republic of Slovenia for Youth.
Slovenian Student Union (Študentska organizacija Slovenije)
Different member organisations are operating within the Slovenian Student Union (Študentska organizacija Slovenije) including the student organisations of three Slovenian universities (the Student Organisation of the University of Ljubljana – Študentska organizacija Univerze v Ljubljani, the Student Organisation of the University of Maribor – Študentska organizacija Univerze v Mariboru and the Student Organisation of the University of Primorska – Študentska organizacija Univerze na Primorskem) and 58 (local) student clubs acting within the Association of Student Clubs of Slovenia (Zveza študentskih klubov Slovenije – ŠKIS). The Slovenian Student Union was established in 1994 on the basis of the Students Association Act (Zakon o skupnosti študentov). The supreme legislation governing the Slovenian Student Union is the Student Constitution (Študentska ustava). It serves as the fundamental legislation of the self-governing community of students in Slovenia, which determines the democratic foundations for the functioning of the Slovenian Student Union. The main organs in the operation of the Slovenian Student Union are the Assembly, the Presidency, the Supervisory Commission and the Tribunal. According to the Students Association Act, the Slovenian Student Union is independent and autonomous, acting without any other public body supervising it.
The Assembly of the Slovenian Student Union consists of 127 members, and is divided into a convention and a council. The Presidency and Tribunal have nine members, while the Supervisory Commission consists of eight members. Assembly and Supervisory Commission members are elected to two-year terms, while Presidency members serve for one year.
The Slovenian Student Union Presidency consists of the president of the Slovenian Student Union, the presidents of the executive authority of each of the students’ organisations of the University, the presidents of the Council of Student Organisations of Local Communities, one representative from each university students’ organisation and one representative from the Council of Student Organisations of Local Communities.
The Supervisory Commission consists of two chosen/elected representatives from the student organisations of the three universities and the Council of Student Organisations of Local Communities. The same condition applies to the Student Union’s Tribunal.
The Assembly is in session once or twice per year, although the Supervisory Commission is in regular session about once a month, and the Presidency is in regular session once a week (except in the summer). The Tribunal meets only if necessary.
There are no public measures or guidelines facilitating greater inclusiveness and diversity.
Role and responsibilities
The Slovenian Student Union is the main organisation of all students in Slovenia, and represents the interests of more than 100 000 students in Slovenian universities, colleges, high schools, vocational schools and higher education institutions abroad.
Activities of the Slovenian Student Union are to:
- receive, organise and implement programmes of interest and extracurricular activities of students in different fields in accordance with national programmes of higher education
- receive, organise and implement programmes affecting the socio-economic status of students
- provide advocacy for quality and affordable higher education in Slovenia
- provide conditions for the operation and development of extracurricular forms of student grouping
- ensure the participation of students in the management of local affairs, which are self-governed by municipalities, in dealing with areas affecting the life and work of students
- enable an impact of students in the management of public affairs and in the work of state and other bodies
- enable students to have an impact on the adoption of legal and other regulation governing the life and work of students
- appoint student representatives to organs and working bodies of international organisations and communities in which Slovenia is a member
- ensure the participation of student representatives in decision-making and management of higher education bodies that are obliged to cooperate
- carry out economic activities
- provide advocacy for student positions on social issues
- perform other tasks and achieve other goals set by the student constitution and other legislation adopted on the basis of the student constitution.
The 6th and 7th Articles of the Students Association Act establish the connection between the Slovenian Student Union and the state. The Government formed the Government Council for Student Affairs, where all legal acts relevant to students are debated. The Slovenian Student Union must be informed when the Government is preparing a new act that is relevant to students. However, the Union’s position is not binding to the Government. According to the Higher Education Act (Zakon o visokem šolstvu), the Slovenian Student Union names representatives for public bodies, such as the Council for Higher Education (Svet RS za visoko šolstvo) and the Slovenian Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (Nacionalna agencija za kakovost v visokem šolstvu – NAKVIS).
The Slovenian Student Union receives about 96% of funds for its operations from public finance. The vast majority of these funds (over 80%) come from concession fees (sredstva iz koncesijskih dajatev). This distinction is particularly important because this is not a pre-guaranteed amount, but rather one that varies with the amount of work (temporary and occasional jobs for pupils and students) performed by students.
The legal framework establishing the Secondary-School Student Organisation of Slovenia (Dijaška organizacija Slovenije – DOS) is the decree on activity of the Secondary-School Student Organisation of Slovenia, adopted by the Slovenian Student Union. The School Student Organisation is a permanent project of the Slovenian Student Union. Hence, the Students Association Act is the legal framework for its functioning. The main organs of DOS are:
- the Parliament, which serves as the pupils’ representative organ and the highest organ of the DOS
- the Council, which ensures implementation of the Parliament’s and other organs’ decisions
- the Presidency, which is an executive organ accountable to the Parliament and the Council and exercises the annual work programme, and
- the Leader, who represents the DOS and coordinates the work of the DOS’s main organs.
The Secondary-School Student Organisation is an organisation of all secondary-school pupils. Each secondary school in Slovenia with a status of a ‘legal person’ has a right to have one delegate in the Parliament. The number of all delegates is around 150. The first regular session of the Parliament was attended by 130 pupils, 90 of whom were school representatives. The delegates are appointed by the democratic functioning body of the student secondary-school community at the school level. Delegates are appointed for each session of the Parliament, which is held every three months. The Council consists of the vice president of the DOS and at least five councillors, while the Presidency consists of the president of the DOS and at least five Presidency members. There is a single Leader. The Council is in session every two months, while the presidency is in session at the request of the Leader or one of the Presidency members. There are no public measures or guidelines facilitating greater inclusion and diversity, nor are there measures for greater participation by pupils.
Role and responsibilities
The objectives of the Secondary-School Student Organisation are to: - improve the material situation of pupils - promote and protect the right of pupils - ensure the participation of pupils in activities of interest - consolidate and expand the impact of pupils on the curriculum, the learning process and the method of examinations in secondary schools - provide interconnection and representation in the organs of the DOS - encourage international cooperation by Slovenian pupils - improve the quality of relations in secondary schools - help pupils to be informed and to have an impact in civil society - provide and secure the impact of pupils on issues related to their material and spiritual growth - provide a school of democracy, ensure equality in secondary schools and defend equal opportunities for all - have a commitment to a secular and ideologically-neutral school.
The DOS, as pupils’ representative, has a seat in the government’s council for youth (Svet vlade RS za mladino), where representatives of youth debate all changes in the youth policy area.
The Secondary-School Student Organisation’s decisions are not binding for policy-makers.
The work of the DOS is supervised by the Slovenian Student Union Presidency. When using public funds, the Slovenian Student Union is supervised by the Court of Audit (Računsko sodišče) and the Information Commissioner (Informacijski pooblaščenec).
The MaMa Network (Mreža MaMa) is a network of Slovenian youth centres. Currently it has 50 member youth centres and operates as a private institute under the regulation of the Institutes Act (Zakon o zavodih) and the Public Interest in Youth Sector Act. MaMa is perceived as one of the most influential actors in the youth sector as it: - connects all organisations performing youth centre activities or operating in the field of youth work in Slovenia - represents common interests of members against the government sector and other persons - regularly informs members and other interested public of all activities concerning youth, and works with them - organises meetings and encourages communication and project interaction between members - offers professional help to members - ensures interaction between members of the MaMa club and young artists - enables young artists to access the youth scene and supports their cooperation - provides informal education for youth and youth workers - encourages and promotes creative activities among youth within MaMa - emphasizes principles of tolerance and cooperation, as well as social awareness among MaMa members and the wider public.
Bodies of the Network MaMa are the Council, the Expert Council, the Director, the Deputy Director (not mandatory) and the Assembly. The youth network MaMa is funded from membership fees, founders’ contributions, sponsorships, subsidies, gifts and volunteering, grants, voluntary contributions, public and private tenders, payments for services and products, legacies and bequests, other resources in accordance with the law, and its own activities.
Membership criteria: the MaMa Network currently includes 50 members, which are youth centres or perform the activities of youth centres.
The most important achievements and impacts of Network MaMa have been:
- the realization of two two-day clubs MaMa with different workshops
- the successful implementation of programmes of active employment policy
- the confirmation of a quality standard in NGOs
- participation in an international project with Demo Finland,
- the launching of the strategic partnership Boost your Possibilities,
- the implementation of the first group EVS project There is a World Outside your Window (which included 1000 young people, 20 youth centres, ten youth centre hostels, and 30 organisations), and
- the successful organisation and implementation of several Structured Dialogue projects (e.g., the conference with the Slovenian European Commissioner Violeta Bulc, with the inclusion of more than 380 young people and 50 organisations).