The answer to this question is provided in a comprehensive analysis of the Center for Equitable Regional Development (CenTriR) which reveals different aspects of the implementation of youth policies in municipalities and cities that are located in the border region of Serbia towards Bosnia and Herzegovina. This analysis largely reflects the situation in other parts of Serbia, and the conclusions and recommendations provided therein are generally applicable to other parts of the country. The analysis shows that, despite the establishment of relevant institutions at national and provincial level (Ministry of Youth and Sport, Provincial Secretariat for Sports and Youth), and local level (more than 140 Youth Offices), as well as the adoption of advanced legislation in this area (Youth Law, National Youth Strategy, Local Youth Action Plans, etc.), the interests of young people in Serbia are still on the margins of decision-making at all levels.
An important part of the analysis are the results of the survey on the functioning of the Youth Offices in eight local self-governments in the said region: Sremska Mitrovica, Indjija, Stara Pazova, Ruma, Prijepolje, Nova Varoš , Užice and Čajetina. The survey has shown that almost all local self-governments have recognized the importance of establishing of local youth services, but, nevertheless, some of them still have not provided premises for everyday work of Youth Offices, or the budget for financing their activities aiming to improve the position of young people, as in case of Užice and Čajetina. The annual budget at disposal to Youth Offices varies pretty much from one to the other local self-government, and in 2012 it ranged between 280,000 dinars in Stara Pazova to 3.8 million dinars in Indjija and Sremska Mitrovica. In addition, it is important to note that half of the Youth Offices that have their own budgets are not directly involved in the budget programming for the upcoming years and other departments of local self-governments do that on behalf of Youth Offices, without any prior consultations with them. This illustrates the way in which the local authorities are perceiving youth problems and ranking the needs and concerns of young people in the local communities when allocating financial resources, as well as their (in)sincerity in facing these problems.
One to two permanently engaged persons usually work in the Youth Offices covered by the survey and half of the Youth Coordinators have long working experience in the civil sector. This commendable practice has contributed to the fact that all analyzed Offices have succeeded to provide additional funding to finance their project activities in the last 2 years, since the very modest resources available to them from the local budget are far from being sufficient to finance their daily work and solving of youth problems in their local communities.
Regardless of their individual success or lack of it, it can be concluded that the Youth Offices in their previous work, in general, have achieved several key results: establishment of local youth services that the young people can address at any moment and where their problems and suggestions would be respected; creating opportunities for informal education and participation of young people in youth programs; establishment of cooperation between local institutions and youth organizations with the aim of improving the position of young people; better networking of young people at the local level and the formation of new local youth organizations. However, to achieve real results in other areas of importance to the position of young people in the local communities, a lot of extra efforts, financial resources and perseverance in dealing with existing problems should be invested. Firstly, the average number of young people who uses the services of local Youth Offices and participates in their activities in most municipalities is small, compared to the entire local youth population. This situation is aggravated by the extreme passivity, inertia and indifference of the majority of young people in most of the local communities, but also by the lack of financial and other resources, due to which these Offices are not able to sufficiently attract and motivate young people to use their free time in the right way. Secondly, 90% of these Offices only carry out activities involving young people from the urban parts of the municipality/city, and the young people who live in rural areas or suburban areas are rarely involved in their activities, thus a significant group of young people remains outside the reach of the youth policies. Thirdly, young people are still not perceived as active stakeholders in decision making and creation of local politics, instead they are most often used as decoration and “indispensable” factor in the process in which the participatory approach is a priori considered, such as the development of youth local action plans.
|This analysis is a part of the wider survey conducted on the project “Young-the most important driving engine of our region”, which seeks to reveal the real situation regarding the implementation of youth policies in the cross-border local communities in Serbia and Bosnia. The project is funded by the European Union, through the IPA Cross-Border Program Serbia – Bosnia and Herzegovina, and implemented jointly by two civil society organizations – Center for Equitable Regional Development – CenTriR (Belgrade) and the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Republika Srpska (Bijeljina). The results of this larger survey, which focuses on cities and municipalities on both sides of the border, as well as the results of the analysis which applies only to cities and municipalities in Serbia, are available on the CenTriR website at the following addresses:
larger survey and analysis – Serbia.
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