Civic education is a must to make youth voices heard

Aug 10, 2017

Civic education empowers youth to be well-informed, active citizens, engaged in policy-making and democratic governance. The Survey on Civic Literacy that was conducted by UNDP in July-September 2016, proved the importance of strengthening civic education in Ukraine.

The Survey revealed that citizens’ knowledge of their rights and duties, as well as of mechanisms of participation in the lives of their local communities, has the potential to grow. However, the sociological survey Youth of Ukraine 2015 proved an increased interest of the younger generation in making positive changes at local and regional levels. As per the Survey’s results, 54% of young people took part in at least one civic initiative in the last 12 months, 88% of the respondents indicated at least one civic initiative in which they are interested, and 38% of those interviewed had taken part in civil society organizations’ activities in he last year. Notably, 2% of those interviewed are members of youth non-governmental organizations, and 6% participate in civil society organizations’ events.

At the state level, civic education was defined as one the national priorities within the National Strategy on Civil Society Development for 2016-2020, the respective Governmental Action Plan for 2017 on its implementation, and the state targeted program Youth of Ukraine 2016-2020. Civic education is also planned to be embedded into the secondary school curriculum by the Ministry of Education of Ukraine.

A number of initiatives on non-formal civic education have already been launched in Ukraine: the All-Ukrainian Education Program for Democratic Citizenship "Democratic School", the  video course “Civic Education” on the Prometheus online learning platform, the video course “Civil Society and State Authorities” on the Open University of Maidan education online platform, and various schools of civic activism conducted regularly under support of different donors are just a few to mention.

On 10-12 August, the UNDP Ukraine, in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine and the State Institute of Family and Youth Policies, held a strategic session on elaborating programs on civic education for youth. 38 participants from all over Ukraine discussed the concept and format of the future specialized training course on civic education for youth workers. The course on civic education will aim to provide youth workers with the knowledge and skills necessary to guide youth on how to effectively solve problems in local communities, participate in policy- and decision-making processes, and contribute to positive transformations at regional and local levels.

Active young citizens, youth workers, experts, representatives of NGOs, state authorities and UNDP shared their views and ideas on the future civic education training course. The future search format of the strategic session encouraged the wide range of participants to engage in lively discussions on finding the best possible concept in line with the UNDP innovation principles.

The civic education program will provide knowledge of democratic citizenship and human rights, as well as practical tools on how to increase youth voice in policy making at local and national levels.

It is important to take into account practitioners views, those who are working with youth on a daily basis.  The civic education is necessary to empower young people to contribute to positive changes in their local communities. It corresponds to the priorities of the State Program “Youth 2020”, the Roadmap of Youth Policy Reforming, and the ongoing decentralization reform. The Ministry of Youth and Sports is looking forward to mapping out the civic education course and its further implementation,” said Oleksandr Yarema, Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, to the event participants.

The Youth Worker Program aims at increasing the professional level of public servants and civil society representatives working with young people, engaging youth in policy making, and facilitating cooperation between youth and state authorities on elaboration and implementation of youth policies.

The UNDP launched the Youth Worker Program  in 2014 in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine and the State Institute of Family and Youth Policies. For the first time youth work has been defined as a separate field, which requires specially trained specialists. Participation in the Program is free of charge. It operates at a national level, and is based on the principles of non-formal education to make it accessible to a wider audience. About 30% of the graduates of the Program are representatives of professions that are not directly related to the youth sector.

The initiative is supported in the framework of the UNDP project “Civil Society for Enhanced Democracy and Human Rights in Ukraine”, implemented with the financial support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.

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