Youth work: key to development
Title: Prospects for youth
Commissioned by: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: State Agency for Youth Affairs, Physical Culture and Sports of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic
Overall term: 2015 to 2018
Like many former Soviet republics, Kyrgyzstan is still in a process of transition. Independence from the former Soviet Union has brought autonomy to this Central Asian republic, but also a number of economic and social challenges. One third of the population comprises young people between14 and 28 years of age. They are struggling with unemployment, poverty and an inadequate education system, and have limited opportunities to participate in the country’s social, economic and political life.
Young people played a prominent role in the violent clashes of 2010. This subsequently raised the profile of youth policy in Kyrgyzstan. During the last government reshuffle in 2016, the State Agency for Youth Affairs, Physical Culture and Sports assumed responsibility for youth policy and its implementation throughout the country.
However, the state institution still lacks the human and technical resources required to create a forward-looking youth sector, and to promote sustainable youth work structures throughout the country. A number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for youth work and youth policy are either assuming an active role in policy-making or supporting young people in a wide range of areas. A key civil society partner is the Institute for Youth Development, which operates nationwide and has international partners.
When drafting and implementing youth policies, both state and non-governmental stakeholders take due account of the younger population’s demand to participate actively in the country’s economic and social life.
Young people are the key to development in Kyrgyzstan. Prospects for Youth sets out to induce all stakeholders to rethink their ideas. This includes encouraging them to conduct youth work sustainably, rather than on a one-off basis, and to pursue a needs-driven, participatory approach.
Strategically, the project focuses on building the capacity of the state and non-governmental youth promotion structures. To achieve this, it supports the project partners in four fields of activity:
- Improving the framework for a national youth policy. The project advises the lead executing agencies on organising cross-sectoral dialogues on youth policy, prioritising issues related to economic and social participation.
- Supporting state and non-governmental actors in the inclusive implementation of youth policy at local level. Municipalities and community youth NGOs receive support as they collaborate on drafting local youth policies and carry out youth-centred measures.
- Scaling up training for governmental and non-governmental actors involved in youth work. This involves the expansion of several certified training courses already introduced by the project for the staff of youth NGOs and administrative authorities. The courses offer both theoretical and practical modules in which the participants learn how to prepare strategies, action plans and support programmes, and how to apply for grants. So far, 64 heads of youth organisations and 47 youth officers in the regional authorities have completed the training.
- Improving the quality of youth promotion activities. The project advises youth NGOs on developing the quality of projects that are geared to career guidance and employment promotion measures for young people. An assistance fund is available for this purpose.
Exchange forums and formats encourage mutual learning in communities of practice. These include South-South cooperation arrangements with other post-socialist countries that are up against similar – partly conflict-ridden – economic and social changes and challenges, and can share their experiences with Kyrgyz colleagues.
Results achieved so far
Heads of the municipalities and administrative departments of several local partner authorities have provided training in youth work for their staff. The individuals concerned now work as youth officers, responsible for the needs of young people within their communities. They are developing youth activities and coordinating this work with the local youth organisations. Nearly all of the 20 first partner municipalities now either have their own youth work budget, or are allocating more of their municipal budget to activities for young people.
Youth organisation members have been trained as youth leaders, and are now active as such. In cooperation with their local authorities, they are devising pilot measures for young people. These often centre on career guidance and employment. A youth information centre has opened in Karakol. In Naryn, in the north-east of the country, a youth centre provides office space and meeting places for ten local youth organisations. A TV channel for young people began broadcasting there in 2014, serving 57 communities and the town of Naryn itself. In Min-Kush, a remote town in the north of Naryn Province, the local youth organisation has renovated an old cultural centre with support from the municipality. It now offers rooms for events and services such as a passport photo studio, which generates revenue for the youth organisation.
The Academy of Public Administration piloted the integration of modules on youth policy and youth work into the professional development courses for local administrators.