Europe for All: 10 reasons why we need a separate Programme for Youth
“If you give me 10 reasons why you need a separate Programme and these reasons are not in the present Programme I will accept” – said Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou during the EU Youth Conference 2012 in Soro, Denmark. The challenge was accepted and young people from all over Europe joined forces and listed together the 10 most important reasons why we need a separate programme for Youth on the spot. We hereby present them all.
1. The EU Youth Strategy structure is not represented in Erasmus for All.
This becomes very visible only by looking at the goals and priorities for different sections of the Strategy, particularly relating to Participation, Voluntary Activities and Social Inclusion. One of the goals of the Strategy is to improve the access and full participation of all young people in society. It is detailed further that the Council and Members States will pay particular attention to young people with fewer opportunities. Considering the fact that Erasmus for all is mainly focused on the formal education system, this raises questions as to how young people threatened by social exclusion who are often outside this system will benefit from the new Programme. The Youth in Action Programme and NFE methods that have accompanied it have been for many years the only opportunity for a variety of disadvantaged groups in Europe. The new Programme is not consistent also with the priority of supporting youth organisations and local and national youth councils politically and financially and promoting the recognition of their important role in democracy. Although the overall budget of the Programme will be increased, funding possibilities for NGOs will be very much limited which undermines what is written in the Strategy. Strong NGOs and youth work have also been listed in the Strategy as part of the way to deal with social exclusion. However, cutting funds for the development of youth work does not seem to go hand in hand with that.
2. Local and International initiatives and Youth in Democracy actions are missing.
It seems that only youth exchanges and volunteering opportunities will remain in the new Programme, which is related to the emphasis put on the mobility dimension. However, without the rest of the actions, the impact of NGOs in Europe will be very limited.
3. No guarantee that the projects will be implemented by youth organisations or be youth-led.
This is because if every action will be connected with the formal education system, there is a risk that youth organisations will have to compete with big educational institutions such as schools, universities etc, which have a stronger prestige and position. That may lead to a significant decrease of actions taken by youth NGOs and lack of support for particular beneficiaries outside the formal education system.
4. Lack of a strong financial support for international organisations
This is dangerous because without strong international youth organisations there will be no strong youth work and no recognition for Non Formal Education, which as it was mentioned previously are factors taken into account in the EU Youth Strategy as tools useful in social inclusion.
5. Youth is not involved in the programme management.
This is mainly because the focus is placed upon the formal education system. Doing something for young people but not with them and by them, is a step backwards in terms of creating a more participatory society in Europe.
6. User and youth friendly instruments are not found in the proposal
Since the new Programme is directed to formal education institutions like universities in terms of management, it loses its youth friendly character and instruments. This is also a step backwards comparing to the situation in which even informal groups could very easily get involved in YiA initiatives.
7. There is no clear mentioning of the concept of Non – Formal Education
8. Youthpass is not included – thus there is no recognition of non-formal outcomes and volunteering
9. “Erasmus for All” gives the feeling that the focus is on Higher Education and loses the Youth in Action Branding
Statements 7-9 are related to the role of Non-Formal Education in European society. The lack of mentioning of its importance is inconsistent with the Strategy mentioned above, which emphasises the role of NFE in creating a more participatory and inclusive society. Together with that goes the lack of recognition, which raises the question of how exactly provisions from the official EU document will be implemented if they are not provided in the main youth programme. Besides, considering the fact that YiA initiatives had never had anything to do with Erasmus such combinations are illogical.
10. Active citizenship, youth participation and social inclusion should be the values serving as basis for the programme.
This statement can stand for a recapitulation of the whole effort taken by youth from all over Europe to have a separate programme. If it won't be based on the notions mentioned above and will only serve economic aims such as the better employability of young people (unfortunately not those excluded from formal education system), we will not be able to build a fair, open and cohesive Europe for All.
To watch the relevant video created during the European Youth Conference please check the website: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_ts0H8Q14E
Newsmail Journalist and Researcher