5.8 Raising political awareness among young people
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Information providers / counselling structures
Different youth organisations in Slovenia provide information on the importance of youth political participation so as to encourage it. For instance, MOVIT (The Institute for the Development of Youth Mobility) implements different projects on the topic of political participation among youth, e.g., the project ‘I am voting for my EU’ (Volim za svojo EU) in 2013. Besides this, they provide a free info service, Eurodesk, which offers information about European opportunities on the field of mobility, active participation of youth in society and activities to encourage youth innovation. Eurodesk also offers information through different channels on different levels, forms personal communication, web tools, regional info points to publications and printed materials.
The National Youth Council of Slovenia prepared the initiative of a voting programme for youth for the period 2011‒2015 (Volilni program po meri mladih za obdobje 2011‒2015). With this programme, the National Youth Council hopes to be a role model. The Youth Council of Slovenia also informs youth through their webpage about different projects, news and conferences; all important for active citizenship.
In the period 2009‒2010, the Slovenian office for Youth developed and designed the Central Communications Youth Information Centre – Young.si (Mlad.si). The purpose of this web portal is the enforcement of a complete and sustainable system to inform the public about the youth sector. Target groups of this portal are youth, youth organisations, state and local community representatives and the general public.
The Youth Network MaMa also provides information about different youth projects, conferences, opportunities and news on youth on their website.
Youth-targeted information campaigns about democratic rights and democratic values
In 2014, the Slovenian Ombudsman, Slovenian Association of Friends of Youth (SAFY), ZIPOM (the Centre for Advocating and Informing about Youth Rights) and the Student Organisation of Slovenia organised the Youth Participation Conference (Konferenca o participaciji otrok in mladostnikov) in cooperation with the National Assembly. The purpose of the conference was to encourage the discussion on the current situation and to further develop youth participation.
In 2019, the Slovenian Association of Friends of Youth (SAFY) organised another conference on the topic of the right of children to participate. The key message from 140 participants (pupils and high school students from around Slovenia) to decision-makers was »We participate, but we are not heard!«
The project ‘EU IS YOU’ (EU SI TI) was implemented in 2014. The Government Communication Office, European Parliament Information Office in Slovenia and European Commission Representation in Slovenia tried to bring the EU institutions closer to youth and encourage youth to participate in the democratic processes. The main purpose of the project was to improve EU citizens’ knowledge of civic rights, to encourage active citizenship among youth and increase their participation in the elections. The main outcome of the project is the guidebook ‘EU Decision Making’ (Popotniški vodnik Odločanje v EU).
Mentoring of trained youth workers has helped young Roma to acquire the necessary skills for active participation. In Slovenia, tensions between Roma and non-Roma communities are mostly based on preconceived ideas. With the support of the Slovenian Youth Ministry and the Youth in Action programme, two NGOs, the Society of Allies for Soft Landing–DZMP in Krsko (Slovenia) and Primi Piani in Trieste (Italy) involved six Roma and six non-Roma youngsters in the design and the shooting of 15 short documentaries on the life of young people from the Roma minority. Through active participation, peer-education and with the help of skilled mentors, they had gained basic knowledge of video production. The films were broadcast on public TV channels in Slovenia and in other European countries.
Promoting the intercultural dialogue among young people
The actual situation in society and the increase of ‘hate speech’ are two main reasons for the projects promoting tolerance and intercultural dialogue among youth. Promotion of intercultural dialogue is in general under the jurisdiction of youth organisations.
The project Youth Ambassadors of Intercultural Dialogue (Mladi ambasadorji medkulturnega dialoga) had been running from 2009 to 2012. The main goal of the project was to create concrete opportunities for learning and coexistence between different cultures in a multicultural world, with the purpose of developing a sense of community and belonging. The major activity of the project was based on direct youth participation. The activities restored the circumstance for the quality informal learning of youth workers in the field of intercultural dialogue. The project had four content columns. The third one should be underlined: promotion, informing and dissemination of the project’s outcomes. The emphasis was on the assurance of visibility of the project activities and on the visibility of youth and institutions integrated within the project on different levels. Four publications were issued within the project, two of them entitled ‘Youth Ambassadors of Intercultural Dialogue’, the third one, ‘Hours of Intercultural Dialogue’, and the fourth, ‘Stories from a Coloured Pot’.
In 2015, the campaign ‘No Hate Speech Movement’ grew to become the movement ‘Don’t hate’ (Ne sovraži). In Slovenia, the national board of this movement is under the jurisdiction of the Youth Council of Slovenia.
‘Web eye’ (Spletno oko) allows Slovenian users of the Internet to anonymously report hate speech and the distribution of materials depicting the sexual abuse of children. The website was created in 2006 with the financial support of the Safer Internet Programme. There is an established cooperation with the police. Spletno oko operates under the Safer Internet Centre, and is coordinated by the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, in collaboration with partners ARNES, the Slovenian Association of Friends of Youth and the Youth Information and Counselling Centre of Slovenia (MISSS), It is financed by DG Connect (European Commission) and the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport.
The Peace Institute – Institute for Contemporary Social and Political Studies (Mirovni inštitut – Inštitut za sodobne družbene in politične študije); the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana; the Ombudsman and the Multimedia Centre of RTV SLO were running the project ‘With Speech on Hate Speech’ (Z (od)govorom na sovražni govor). The aim of the project was to reduce the prevalence of hate speech in Slovenia, to empower vulnerable groups and to promote active citizenship. Within the framework of the project, the ‘Anti-Hate Speech Council’ (Svet za odziv na sovražni govor) was established. In the first year of its operation, it received around 50 initiatives (most of these associated with hate speech against refugees, migrants, the Islamic religion and the LGBT community).
On the 20th anniversary of the European Voluntary Service, Youth Network MaMa made aware the effects of mobility on the young people. One of the activities, ‘Say Hello to Tolerance‘, was carried out in October 2016. Sixteen young people from eight different European countries participated. The main goal of the project was for the volunteers to gain real insight into the situation in society through fieldwork, and with that mark the promotion campaign in which they would spread the voice of tolerance.
In 2016, Humanitas – Centre for Global Learning and Communication started with the project 'Through the Refugee's Eyes'. An interactive theatre performance was made in co-creation with persons with refugee experience, in which the audience/participants are put into the role of refugees. After the play, participants meet the people with the refugee experience, whom they »played« during the performance. The goal of the project is to promote critical thinking, tolerance and intercultural dialogue. The play was performed more than 60 times, mainly for primary and high-school youth.
Promoting transparent and youth-tailored public communication
There are no policy frameworks or guidelines on transparent public communication targeting young people, but there were some initiatives on this topic.
Slovenian youth organisations integrate into public decision-making by the structured dialogue (Strukturiran dialog). It is an instrument by which youth, youth organisations, youth councils and researchers from the field of youth actively integrate into political dialogue with authorities responsible for youth policy. The dialogue can be implemented on a local, regional, national or European level.
In May 2016, Youth Network Mama organised ‘Training Relations and Public Communication in Youth Centres’ (Odnosi in komuniciranje z javnostmi v mladinskih centrih). Through the training, 20 participants from different youth organisations learned about the theoretical basis and practical solutions in the field of communication’s goals, tools and channels. Furthermore, each of them prepared a draft of communication’s plan along the whole structure for their own project, which was implemented by their organisations.