Welcome to UP2YOUTH: Youth - actor of social change

Collection of current policies and practices Print

The UP2YOUTH collection of practices is presented in an attempt to demonstrate how agency in these three UP2YOUTH topics is facilitated by current policies; policies from which further positive development could flow by either generalizing the successful strategies or, alternatively, by avoiding the failures that some of these examples quite clearly show. The collection was inspired by the implications for policy and practice chapter of the UP2YOUTH report.

Therefore, this collection is not (as is usual) entitled ‘good practices', as it includes practices which although interesting do involve problematic aspects. These aspects include restricted financial resources, a very ‘thin' spread, and no clear evaluation criteria.

A searching format was employed which asked for both the ‘strengths and weaknesses' of the measures reviewed.  This format also sought to explicitly open space for the researchers own evaluations and for the deployment of their professionally informed critical commentary. This feature allowed for the inclusion of policies which have definite weaknesses, but are also extremely interesting for specific reasons; such weaknesses are explicitly indicated, although we must stress that the respective researchers did not evaluate these practices themselves.

The collection of current practices is not exhaustive but heterogeneous and ranges from:

  • Broad national mainstream programmes to small local initiatives.

  • Correspondingly, the extent to which these programmes address their target groups vary; from a broad spread as exampled by the ‘Brede Schools' in Holland to the very ‘thin' spread as portrayed by the Family Centres in Bulgaria. Most of these programmes originate with the intention of addressing specific target groups only.

  • Differences exist in relation to available resources and staff involvement. They are very different regarding the financial resources available, and the staff involved.

  • The time frames vary dramatically; from one year projects to programmes that have been operating for 20 plus years.

  • The extent to which these programme are evaluated, and the criteria used for evaluation again displays a wide variation.

  • The programmes are very disparate in relation to the issues and topics addressed. A significant number of them are covering more than one topic. For example, in Emilia Romagna the ‘Centres for Families' address transitions into parenthood and work involving ethnic minority and migrant young people, whilst the Valencia Project 'Todas Cabemos' bridges ethnic/migrant transition and the issues around participation.

  • Substantive differences emerge in how these programmes address young people: some address young people as autonomous whilst some operate from a strong deficit-oriented perspective: most of the Romanian programmes appear to be deficit orientated, have an integration mechanism/human rights perspective, or focus on employability.

  • Correspondingly, there is a significant scale of difference pertaining in how the young people themselves are involved in developing these programmes; the degree of being self-steered and bottom-up-organised, or the degree of being ‘adult' controlled and developed top-down.

What purpose does this collection of current practices serve?

  • It may help to give insight into how policies are structured: in Italy for example, programmes can be found on a local and regional level only, not on a national level; in France, national level programmes are in existence but they do not appear as interesting enough to be included in this collection.

  • It may serve to inform and further develop policy strategies.

  • It may serve to inspire theoretical reflection and further research.

What was the criterion in this search for current projects and policies?

  • Projects and policies which aimed to enable and promote young people's agency

  • Projects and policies that feature open space for negotiation

  • Projects and policies that aim to strengthen young people's abilities and means to actively shape their transitions; to work, to parenthood, and to civic participation).

  • Projects and policies that support and acknowledge informal network building.

  • Projects and policies that accept young people's own imageries concerning professionalism, parenthood, and active citizenship.

The collection of current practices has to be read as a collection of snapshots which are of interest for the further development of policies appropriate to support young people as agents of social change.

The collection is accompanied by quality criteria for policies according to the three sub-themes of UP2YOUTH:

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 22 July 2009 )

Project supported by funding under the European Union's Sixth Research Framework Programme - Coordinated by IRIS e.V.

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