We Hear You
This project addresses a number of current European issues. A decline in the interest in democratic processes and institutions among young persons is evident, as well as increased discrimination, racism, political and religious extremism. Furthermore the educational systems across Europe have common problems with absenteeism and drop-out.
There is a growing sense of frustration amongst teachers and youth workers concerning the low level of youth participation in democratic processes, as well as young people’s lack of trust in democratic institutions and values. The youth professionals worry about these perceived democratic deficits and the consequences it has for the youngsters and for society in general, which is particularly concerning when it comes to vulnerable youth at risk of being marginalised in society.
All partner organisations have identified organisational shortcomings concerning youth participation on several levels, both structural and cultural. This leads to a perception amongst youth of not having a say in the decision making, not even on their own personal level at school or in other situations, which in turn leads to distrust and disinterest in partaking in activities organised by established organisations and in democratic processes. The feeling of being marginalised puts the youngsters at risk of actually becoming excluded, and is conductive to discrimination, racism, political and religious extremism, school absenteeism, and drop-out, from school, work or youth programmes.
The professionals working with young persons between 16 and 25, in particular teachers and youth workers can be perceived as carriers of structures and cultures that perpetuate the identified shortcomings of the organisations. They need new methods and tools to improve their capacity to communicate with youth in a more participatory way, and to understand the importance and impact that their attitude has. There is also a need for structures, methods and tools that will support the democratic institutions ability to reach the concerned youth groups.
This project aims to provide a basis for an improved culture amongst professionals as well as structures that will support democratic dialogue and youth involvement in order to promote civic participation, create participatory mechanisms, thus preventing marginalisation and its negative effects on individuals and society.
The objectives are to identify and develop existing methods and tools for youth professionals, design new ones, at least ten altogether, as well as develop two online courses. A further objective is to find possible structural revisions that will facilitate youth participation, such as structures for meetings with decision makers and/or other political arenas. The relevant methods, tools and training tools will be collected and made available in a database that will provide a “Platform for sharing of good practice in the field of promoting democratic dialogue and youth civic participation”. A range of dissemination activities will also be carried out, and previsions will be made for the sustainability of the results.
The project is using cumulative knowledge development as a foundation to obtain the project results. The development of existing or “new” methods, tools and training tools, as well as possible efficient structural modifications will be carried out as a learning process, creating modules, try them and take in feed-back, learn from that and make alterations. The database is therefore dynamic and open to new additions from the partnership, but also input from other organisations and/or stakeholders will be considered for added value.
Eight partners with a variety of competencies and experiences from different countries, educational systems and youth work services are actively involved in the project, and in addition, two associated partners will support the project, the implementation and dissemination of the project results. Fifty active practitioners and thirty youth will be the prime actors in the work that will lead to a successful result. The project aims to engage many more and hopefully reach thousands of persons in organisations throughout Europe.
Each partner will set up a professional local activity group and work according to their local activity plans. The partnership recognises the importance of in-depth youth involvement in this project. All partners expect ENSA will therefore set up a youth advisory group. It will provide background data and feed-back from their perspective. The partners will bring representatives of the youth participants to the six transnational project meetings, where they will be given the opportunity to share experiences and contribute towards the results of the project. Local steering groups are set up by all partners with key persons from their own organisations and/or local stakeholders. This will be a means of continuous follow-up and promote quality assurance and dissemination of the results.