5.8 Raising political awareness among young people
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Ombudsman for Children in Sweden
In Sweden, young people under the age of 18 years have their own ombudsman, the Ombudsman for Children (Barnombudsmannen). The main duty of the Ombudsman for Children is to promote the rights and interests of children and young people as set forth in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
The Living History Forum
The Living History Forum (Forum för levande historia) is a Swedish public authority commissioned to work with issues related to tolerance, democracy and human rights, using the Holocaust and other crimes against humanity as its starting point. The Forum has young people in school contexts as their key target group.
The Government gives comprehensive information on human rights on a dedicated website. The website targets all citizens, and is therefore not specifically for young people.
Democracy 100 years anniversary
In 2021, Sweden celebrates 100 years of democracy. Part of the celebration is the project Democracy 100, which is coordinated by the National Library (KB) and the foundation Riksbankens Jubileums fond (RJ). Linked to the project is also a network of representatives of archives, museums and libraries as well as individual researchers. The overall purpose of the project Democracy 100 is to increase knowledge about the emergence of universal and equal suffrage in Sweden 1918–1921, and the historical process around it.
Democracy 100 years anniversary activities
Schools and teachers an important target group for the Democracy 100 years anniversary. Teachers are offered free classroom material from both Demokrati 100, the Riksdag's website firademokratin.se and at levandehistoria.se, in order to be able to hold a workshop on the right to vote, for example.
The Government has made a number of decisions on democracy-promoting measures and initiatives during 2020 and 2021. The following are targeting young people, with the goal of strengthening children's and young people's knowledge and developing their abilities and skills when it comes to exercising their democratic rights:
- A website promoting children's and young people's rights
The Government has commissioned the Ombudsman for Children (Barnombudsmannen) to strengthen and develop the democracy perspective on the Mina Rättigheter (My Rights) website. According to government assignment, the website has been supplemented with knowledge and guidance on how children and young people themselves can exercise their democratic rights.
- Models for developing young people's democratic knowledge, skills and competences
The Government has commissioned the Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society Affairs (MUCF) to develop and disseminate models for how municipalities can work strategically, cross-sectorally and in the long term, to strengthen young people's knowledge of local democracy, develop young people's democratic skills and competences and to promote young people's participation.
In 2020, the focus of the assignment was to map existing knowledge in the field and to prepare training materials and dissemination activities. With this as a starting point, MUCF has in 2021 intensified its cooperation with six municipalities and one region for increasing young people's knowledge of local democracy. The collaboration is about developing methods for young people's participation that in the next step can be disseminated throughout the country. The focus is on promoting the conditions in particular for those who feel or are excluded from society. The work is based on a rights-based youth perspective. During 2021, the participating actors have attended the Rights-based youth perspective training developed by MUCF.
Strengthen the conditions for young people in youth care to participate in democracy
The National Board of Institutional Care (SiS) has been commissioned by the government to carry out special initiatives in its school activities for students and teachers with the aim of promoting students' development of the knowledge and abilities required to actively participate in democracy. As part of its role, SiS provides education for children and young people of school age who are receiving treatment in special residential homes for young people. The methods that are presented below are also used in the school education that SIS provides.
- Strengthen upper secondare level students' knowledge of the possibilities and challenges of democracy
Stockholm University has been commissioned to organise democracy fairs at several university locations, in order to strengthen upper secondary level students' knowledge on the challenges and opportunities of democracy. The assignment aims in particular to contribute to an increased interest in democracy issues among students. At the fairs, a wide range of research on politics and democracy will be made available. The fairs took place in autumn 2021, in cooperation with the universities of Göteborg and Örebro. Students in grade 9 of compulsory school and in upper secondary schools. Teachers are provided method material covering the following:
- Movies adressing the form and content of democracy
- Movies adressing the challenges of democracy
- Fact sheet on key democracy issues
- Lesson bank with two lessons on democracy
- Strengthen the work for increased media and information literacy
The Government has commissioned the Swedish Media Council to strengthen the work for increased media and information literacy by continuing to develop the agency's activities and collaboration in the area. The Media Council can now provide a set of lessons with a goal of promoting well informed citizens who have a common view of reality, a certain knowledge of the political system and are able to participate in political discourse.selection. The lessons contain the following exercises:
- Democracy and your everyday media. About filter bubbles
- He who speaks the truth is free! About the concept of truth.
- How important is the truth? About our common reality.
- What news and information reach you? About your own media consumption.
Actions to increase the voter turn-out in national and European Parliament Elections 2018 and 2019
The Government commissioned the Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society (MUCF) to distribute grants to civil society organisations and municipalities that run activities aimed at increasing voter turnout in national parliament elections 2018 and in European parliament elections 2019.
The government finds high and more equal voter turnout as very important. In Sweden, the last three national parliament elections have shown increasing voter turnout rates, as well as the last two elections to European parliament. At the same time, there are still great differences in votier turnout between different population groups and between different districts. In the electoral district with the lowest voter turnout in the 2014 national parliament elections, only 48% voted, while 95% voted in the electoral district with the highest voter turnout.
There is a certain correlation between a district's voter turnout and its population. Electoral districts with low turnout are characterised by low average income, low levels of education and a high share of foreign-born among the eligible voters. Therefore, according to the Government, there is a need to stimulate higher voter participation especially among population groups such as young people, foreign-born and disabled, and in socio-economically weaker areas where voter turnout previously has been low.
The Swedish Government has not taken any major initiatives to promote intercultural dialogue among young people with different backgrounds in Sweden.
What may be relevant here is that government grants to youth projects during the past years have focused on issues such as encouraging more young people to join organisations, participate in politics and to become involved in EU-issues.
There are no policy frameworks or guidelines on transparent public communication targeting young people in Sweden. National or large-scale programmes or initiatives on providing training for policy-makers at various levels on suitable and youth-tailored communication do not exist either.