youth parliament project - International Debate Education Association
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youth parliament project - International Debate Education Association

ing of what role the EU should play in thelives of European citizens (especially youngpeople) and how they can influence the decisionmaking process at the European level• Developing skills of young people, especiallythe skills which will enable them to influencethe decision making process (advocacyskills) as well as their vocational skills (communicationskills, language skills, organizationalskills, and cooperation skills) in orderto improve their chances of employability andprovide a better start to an adult lifeThe main goal of the project is the developmentof a replicable model for increasing studentparticipation in partner countries andenhancing long term co-operation betweenschools, government and the civil society.The project’s outputs will be replicable andconstitute models of good practice, to beemployed by different categories of users.These categories include: teachers (trainingand curriculum), youth workers and socialworkers (training and good practice), localgovernments (networking and exchange ofgood practice), NGO personnel (trainingand networking). Thus, the trainings conductedunder the auspices of the YPP includethe following:• Teacher trainings (youth parliamentarismand debate) will be based on project learningapproach and deliberative educationmethodology. The trainings will emphasizea hands-on approach and provide possibilityfor peer-dialogue.• Trainings for teachers, youth and socialworkers working with disabled and disadvantagedstudents will employ special pedagogies.• Advocacy trainings for young people willbe based on project learning approach anddeliberative education.• International conference will be organized based onproject learning, deliberative education and inter-culturaleducation.• Two guidebooks (public debate and youth parliamentarism)will employ project learning and debate methodology.They will provide a lot of examples and specificguidelines on how to establish and support youth councils,youth parliaments and organize public debates. These publicationswill contain full acknowledgement of any fundingsupport forthcoming from the Socrates programme (as willalso be the case on the proposed project web-pages).The target groups that will ultimately benefit from theproject are students in five partner- countries (Bulgaria,Lithuania, Romania, Slovenia and the UK) aged 13-19.The groups will include students from ethnic minorities,immigrant students and students with disabilities.The project will reach out to Roma youth in Bulgaria andRomania (it is estimated that it will directly involve 200Roma students in each country during the 2 years of project’sduration).In all five partner-countries, the project will reach out todisabled students (it is estimated that an average of 100–200 disabled students will be affected per partner country).According to the estimates by the Essex CountyCouncil which has successfully implemented the YouthParliament project in its own locality and has cooperatedwith other local authorities in the UK, about 5-10% ofeach partner country’s student population (aged 13-19)should be involved in the project (at different capacity:either through participation in exchanges, online projects,debates and forums, elections, etc.).Apart from the local developments of the Youth ParliamentProject activities in individual countries, which are shortlydescribed below, the project gave birth to a few usefulmanuals that are being used to train youth. Marcin Zaleskihas developed a Public Speaking Training Module and anIntroductory Debate Training Module that has been usedby countries participating in the project. You can accessthe material for both of these trainings by going to Debate Education Association |39

YPPApart from providing resources for teachers and trainers,a collection of resources for students has been prepared.The material includes IDEA Public Advocacy Training, adescription of the Young Essex Assembly, and a resolutionon Youth Against Violence and Substance Abuse preparedby the Lithuanian Forum participants. All of these documentscan be found at following are short overviews of the YPP activities inparticipating countries. You can read about some of theseevents in more detail in the following articles. If you needupdated information on the activities or participants of theYouth Parliament Project, you can always check Parliament Projectin LithuaniaAs Lithuania already had existing youth parliaments, themain goal of the project was to improve the skills of youthparliament members as well as the communicationbetween them and local and nationalauthorities.Lithuania organized its first Youth Conferencein June 21 – 25, 2004 in the TrainingCentre ”Dainava” in Druskininkai. Therewere 50 participants present at this training.During this training there were several sessionsthrough which students had to acquiredifferent skills and abilities. The sessionsincluded interactive trainings in effectivecommunication, argumentation, the studyof the state of youth in Lithuania, and preparationof election speeches for simulatedyouth parliament elections. The conferencesended with an open discussion between theparticipants of the conference and the LithuanianMinister of Health, Juozas Olekas.In November, a meeting was organizedbetween the youth and the Lithuanian President,Valdas Adamkus in order to improve thecommunication between youth and political40| International Debate Education Association

odies in Lithuania. The meeting took placein the Center for Professional Developmentin Panevezys and hosted about 150 participatingstudents, as well as members of thePresident’s office and the local media. Themeeting featured a debate on the resolution“Panevezys needs a university” and followedwith an open floor discussion amongst theparticipants and the politicians.Most recently, under the auspices of theYouth Parliament Project, a National YouthForum was organized in Kedainiai “Sviesioji”gymnasium. This event hosted 170 participantsfrom all around Lithuania and focusedon the topic “Students should have moreopportunities in school governance”.Youth ParliamentProject in SloveniaThe Youth Parliament Project in Slovenia isorganized as a pilot project held in 4 localcommunities that are municipalities acrossthe country. The municipalities were carefullyselected to represent different kinds ofcommunities – big, small, predominantlyrural and predominantly urban - some withmany schools and some with few schoolsand, of course, geographically distributed.No similar structure as the Youth Parliamentsexisted in any of these municipalities (or forthat matter anywhere else in the country).The choosen municipalities are: NovaGorica, Zree, Ormož, Ljutomer.Each local community has its own local coordinationteam that is chaired by the local cocoordinator(s).We encouraged bi-coordination,where one co-coordinator is an adultand the other a member of the targeted agegroup.The local co-ordination teams deal with promotion,contacts with local governments, election campaigns,promotion, media contacts on the local level, etc. Theyare assisted by the national coordinator, ZiP. Core andkey elements of the project implementation are decidedjointly, while some aspects may vary from one local YPto the other.The Slovenian Youth Parliament Project organizersrecently held their first session-seminars for theirelected parliaments in all four municipalities. The parliamentshave 9, 16, 14 and 13 MPs, so they are quitesubstantial, considering they are in fairly small communities.The first sessions of the new Youth Parliaments wereorganized as orientation seminars for the young MPs,the main objective was to get to know each other, learnabout the political and constitutional system in Slovenia(especially on the local level), learn and discusshow YP fits into the municipality as well as to adoptrules of procedure and elect the president and vicepresidentof the YP.One first session was held in the town hall (Zrece) withthe mayor present. Other sessions were held in schools.It must be emphasized that municipalities are interestedin the activities of these newly elected Youth Parliaments.Some of these Parliaments have received directinvitations to establish committees to participate inmunicipality projects as representatives of local youth.During the upcoming sessions, yearly work-plans willbe adopted and committees formed and from there onit will be the challenge to work towards implementingthose plans.Each local Youth Parliament, that is the elected MPs,will work according to its Rules of Procedure. Theywill identify core issues in their community to work on(e.g. improving public transportation services for youngpeople, initiating the opening of a youth centre, etc.).They will form decisions, seek the support of local organizationsand/or governments and at the end of the termthey will present a detailed report of their work, whatthey managed to accomplish and what still needs to beInternational Debate Education Association |41

down to the few who hold positions of powerin a youth club or a youth group (this usuallybeing determined at a first meeting).The seminar conducted by IDEA in Kibuye(in western Rwanda on the lake Kivu) inDecember aimed at achieving 2 objectives:providing the participants with some practicaltools of how to approach young peopleand work with youth groups (e.g. throughdebates, discussions, team building activities)and providing them with an opportunity toreflect on their current work in the field ofyouth action and future strategies. The seminarbrought together over 30 participants from9 civil society organizations which have beenworking with young people or would like toinvolve young people in their activities.The seminar began with a series of exercisesexploring different group working techniques– which also allowed the participantsto get to know each other and shareideas about youth participation as well asexchange information about the activities oftheir respective organizations. On the sameday, the participants also worked in groups (members ofthe same organization working together) on developingmaps for their organizations: identifying the main stakeholdersand their interests, and identifying the main messagethat each organization would like to present to differentstake-holders. The seminar finished with a role-playexercise during which participants could practice the skillsdeveloped during the previous sessions and offer each otherfeedback on their performance.Although 2 days of training are not enough to cover all thecomplex issues related to youth participation, the seminardelivered by IDEA was a good start. In addition to thepractical information and knowledge and skills acquiredby the participants, one of the most valuable outcomes ofthe seminar was the sharing of ideas and reflection on thepast, current and future activities of the participants’ organizations.There was also another important product – ashared feeling that none of the participants is left alone inimplementing their organizations’ mission and objectivesand that networking and exchanging of ideas is crucial toachieving success in civil society.IDEA would like to thank the Norwegian People’s Aid(NPA) of Rwanda for their support in the organization ofthe seminar in Kibuye.International Debate Education Association |43

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