Working group Youth participation and Volunteering

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1 Working group Youth participation and Volunteering 29 th of March. Hanasaari, Espoo, Finland. Tomi Kiilakoski. Notes. Conceptual problems: what is meant by participation and non-formal learning? How should we interpret these concepts? What discources should be used? - Participatory every-day culture in different environments such as schools and workplace o Concentrating on every-day culture would make a more holistic perspective (not the division of representative - Participating takes place in different stages and places. In order to become engaged in the local community you should be informed in order to move forward in participatory ladders o Youth councils etc. One size does not fit all different people participate in different ways. One should not be restricted to one procedure only. o Paternalism in defining participation: narrowing the definition down to the things that are more easily grasped - Europe: participation in representative democracy as a focus? - Child and youth participation not the division of children and young people in general - Learning to participate: families should be the starting point o community approach Different forms of participation - Taking part in different kind of processes, not only in decicion making. One should be able to be in the process and have learning opportunities. o Growth to representative democracy it does not happen automatically. o Difficulties in finding indicators - The process where one moves from childhood to adulthood via adolescency the life span perspective. o Critical phases in moving to participation o Children and young people learning to be active citizenship

2 Formulating the indicators - The use of indicators requires other sources of information especially on participation and volunteering Remarks on the proposed indicators 6.1. Young people s participation in political/environmentally-oriented NGOs. - Methodological note: Finnish statistical experts are of the opinion that information gathered by telephone interviews are not valid. o Problems in reaching the whole age cohort (especially marginalised groups) - Problem of definition: how is community NGO interpreted? A need for wider definition. o There should a wider, more open definition of NGOs. o Specifing the organisation is problematic some young people interpret their taking part in NGO as a leisure-activity o Different kinds of youth organisations - More and more young people engage themselves for a short while (at least in Netherlands) o Networks etc. are becoming players in a political field o Participating in events - The notion of improving the local community why the value-orientation - Should be broadened to include other forms of political participation - Quality dimension: not only taking part what kind of participation actually takes place? o Taking part in the organisation does not secure the quality of participation o Indicators should try to be sensitive to the quality of participation o Long-term following of certain groups is required to research the impact of the quality of participation o In Finnish School Health survey there is a question of feeling that one is able to affect the school life o Civil society life is remarkably harder environment to measure different social Lfields o School-limited indicator: being able to influence school life? How the data could collected? - Additional information on how to promote participation in different fields is required. How and why are young people motivated to participate? - The problem of being asked if one wants to participate seizing the opportunities. - In order to have indicators in youth participation we should be aware of key phases in young people s lives and the reasons for motivation in participating. We should have a better understanding on these matters. - Creating and having indicators is one way of starting the process of defining participation? - Looking more deeply in existing research and doing more research on participation 6.2. Participation of young people in local, regional, national or European parliamentary elections 6.3. Young people who got elected into the European Parliament - Participation in elections is not so interesting for young Belgians: voting is mandatory. Some of the young people leave everything blank (as a counter-strategy in elections)

3 - The emphasis on European parliament is questionable: looking at the national and local elections would be more interesting - 3 years limit in 6.2. In Luxembourg there could be no elections within 3 years. - From indicators to ranking (and to bench-marking) how does one use these indicators. o The topic of ranking is not so clearly defined The ranking itself might not make sense. - Number 6.2. is rather scarce. More interesting would be to know the amount of for example right-wing-extremism voters - The ratio of young adults voting to the voters in general would more interesting. o The question of the function of indicator: what is wanted of these indicator - Having a one, simple indicator can be really useful in creating a policy (indicators cannot be perfect but they can be useful) - A sceptical note on a source: self-reported voting percentage in Eurobarometer on youth what about those informants that do no want to answer or have disabilities - A number of young people being nominated could be important, too Young people who use internet for interaction with public authorities 6.5. Young people using internet for accessing or posting opinions on websites for discussing civic and political issues Difference between using public services and participation - Strong emphasis on new technologies participating in blogs is it participation (and what is the quality of that participation) - Assumption that young people and Internet go together is an assumption that one can become allergic to. o Some forms of Internet use are not participation - The impact of Internet discussion in IRL situations how they connect - The internet as instrument: a tool with new possibilities - The use of blogs: if participation is viewed as responsible argumentation, blog discussions might not be civilised, political discource - Consequence of young people using the blog and such: do young people get heard and get taken seriously during the process o The problem in measuring this (although the point is accurate) - One tool of various ones is at the same time o too wide: it combines many things (some of which are not participation) o too narrow: it overlooks many traditional ways of communicating Volunteering Again a problematic area for indicators Young people engagement in voluntary activities 7.2. Share of young making a voluntary contribution to their local community - Would the engagement as such be enough (value-oriented sentence in the working document)

4 - Simplifies young people s opinions. Voluntary action as rationalised choice instead of taking part in an activity for fun (and still making a contribution) - Voluntary work as problematic concept it is really close to taking part in civil society o Voluntary work as participation - Indicator should be changed to have a stricter demand o 7.1. taking part, 7.2. taking the iniative? - The concept of service learning: doing voluntary work in community (organised voluntary activity in community) - Lots of discussion on the problematic nature of defining what exactly is meant by voluntary activity o Different problematic elements in these indicators o These questions might be difficult for young people to answer (in the same way) -> Problem of reliability - More clear picture is gotten by asking if one belongs to an activity, after this it can be asked if they have been taking iniative, organising, being a member of a board. o Elaborating questions further - In Finland one does not have a one simple question for this indicator: a lump of different questions would be needed - In Netherlands there is a number of different organisations which make it difficult to answer to these types of questions 7.3. Share of young people who have stayed abroad for the purpose of volunteering - A source being a Eurobarometer should not one use the data already available (and getting more objective picture) o In Sweden the data is not collected. - Satisfaction for the question itself - a problem lies in getting the information o For example: going abroad as part of school year and doing voluntary work does that count o Some guidance should be offered 7.4. Formal recognition for taking part in voluntary activities - What is meant by formal recognition for non-formal learning is it a recognition by an educational institution or an employer - In Netherlands it is part of the curriculum to take part in a voluntary activity o Mandatory voluntary activity? - There are stages in recognition: a diploma is a first step, second step would be that this is recognised in work or in education o Second dimension should be emphasised - Self-assessed non-formal learning

5 Using indicators - policymaking - The interpretation of the indicators not seeing the young people as a problem is a crucial point. One should be able to interpret the data correctly. - Getting the idea of indicators and using them correctly. - Interpretation of indicators: they can reflect twenty kind of realities o The idea is to compare EU member states but the differences in systems and applications have to be analysed carefully before making the decicions. o Interpretation of the meaning is a crucial step in using them in policy-making

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