YOUTH WORK

Youth work covers activities and programmes based on methods and principles of non-formal education with the aim to support the development of young people into conscious, responsible and active members of the community working on creating the conditions for achieving their full potentials.

Youth work in Montenegro is based on research of young people’s needs carried out in cooperation with the other organisations, institutions and services which may help to identify the needs and problems of young people, as well as to find possible solutions.

Based on a voluntary participation of young people in offered contents, youth work has primarily educational character. Namely, all programmes and activities within youth work have educational component. Apart from knowledge on certain topics which are processed through programmes and activities, young people through them acquire personal and social skills needed in everyday life (self-confidence, personal and social responsibility, decision making, communication skills, skills of dealing with conflicts) in order to have control over their lives based on sound and informed decisions and life choices.

In youth work methods of non-formal education are used, with emphasis on learning through experience which involves learning from any experienced situation, actual or created.

Respecting young people and accepting them as full and equal members of society, they are given opportunities to take responsibility and the conditions are created for them to learn from those experiences.

Youth work promotes independence and responsibility of young people so that they could be empowered to independently take initiatives and actively participate in the creation of personal and social changes.

All our programmes and activities, within youth work, are focused on enabling young people to take control over their lives and, simultaneously, to avoid risky behaviours.

Forum MNE recognised the need to offer, apart from the university level, an education at the lower level, but not less important, and this is education for youth activists who can professionally perform activities within the service for young people at local levels.

In cooperation with the Centre for Vocational Education (Ministry of Education), Forum MNE has been working on the process of recognition of this vocation for three years. Since Forum MNE participated in preparation of Law on Youth, this term has been introduced in the draft law, and therefore it is stated in the law that youth activist “shall organize activities and events, campaigns, youth educational camps, and support initiatives of young people and encourage active participation.” We think that work on this initiative is important in order to contribute to professionalization of youth work, and also to give an opportunity to young people who do not have university education to deal with Community Youth Work in a responsible and professional manner. We believe that this will highly strengthen youth services at the local level, and we hope that the time will come when youth activists will be employed by the local self-governments.

The youth activist vocation was recognized on March 13, 2017, and Forum MNE is the first organization in Montenegro to conduct a licensed Youth Activist Vocational Programme!

Some of professional competences of the youth activists recognised in the vocation standard are given as follows:

  • ensures the quality in compliance with standards of youth work;
  • organises youth exchanges, festivals, events, campaigns, youth educational camps, educational fun programmes and leads info centres;
  • designs and creates project proposals according to international recommendations and charters on youth participation according to needs of communities where they work;
  • gives support to initiatives of other young people and children;
  • recognises, directs and uses leadership potential within himself/herself and other young people and transfers it to the activism in the community;
  • ensures the protection of health and environment.

Youth clubs are places which offer organised, educational, creative and interactive contents for young people. The aim of activities is to develop skills, knowledge and attitude of young people, which they need in order to fulfil their full potentials. Activities of youth clubs are offered as leisure contents of young people. Types of activities vary from thematic workshops and youth trainings, to organisation of cultural and sport events, thematic evenings, free activities (youth café, table tennis, social games…).

Topics of activities come as suggestions and needs of young people, or as a response to problems they are facing with. Also, young people get stronger and they are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions, choices, life. Clubs also offer information from different fields (employment, education, health, law, travels, and leisure). It is very important in any time that there is a youth worker and/or volunteer in the youth club, who conducts or helps young people to conduct activities in the club. They are trained for work with young people and they ensure quality and safe environment for young people in the club. Safe environment involves atmosphere of acceptance, non-discrimination, respect of personalities, and also physical safety of young people, in terms of non-violence, non-consumption of alcohol, drugs and cigarettes.

Forum MNE offers training on setting up and running youth clubs, whereby future youth workers and activists, who will work in the club, are getting acquainted with the basic principles of youth work, as well as with the recommended standards and procedures in the management of youth clubs.

Setting up a Youth Club

Forum MNE has opened, during twelve years of work in Montenegro, youth clubs in: Podgorica, Ulcinj, Kotor, Bar, Rožaje, Budva and Berane, and plans to continue the implementation of similar programmes and projects. Still, the model according to which only one organization can respond to identified needs of all young people is not sustainable, and therefore Forum MNE, guided by its experience, and also by EU recommendations, started developing several models regarding opening and running youth clubs. We think that the lack of space does not necessarily mean lack of youth work activities. This only means that youth work is conducted in other places – schools, institutions, cultural centres, and on a structured manner in all places where young people gather (street, cafés, sports fields etc.)

 

 

One of youth club models in Montenegro which was successfully introduced by Forum MNE, is a concept of voluntarily-run youth clubs (publication available in documents). In short, it implies that young people are those who initiate opening of the youth club and together with their peers develop and conduct activities of the youth club. Non-governmental organisations give support during this process, mostly in part of building capacities of young people, and their individual development. Over the years, Forum MNE supported young people in Ulcinj, Berane, Rožaje and Risan and together with them started activities of voluntarily-run youth clubs.

Youth club must have clear work standards, structure, organisation and programme. The team running a voluntary youth club is organized in form of a board of young people which is responsible for activities offered by the club.

The team of experts/youth workers from Forum MNE, as a part of their engagement, offers training on setting up and running youth clubs, whereby future youth workers and activists, who will work in the club, are getting acquainted with the basic principles of youth work, as well as with the recommended standards and procedures in the management of youth clubs.

 

Events and actions, organised as a part of youth work activities, are directed to wider society and aim at drawing attention of the public to the specific issue or topic, or introducing talents, ideas, suggestions of young people. They are organized by youth workers, volunteers and young people themselves, and they are held in different open and closed spaces in the community.

 

Forum MNE recognised the need to work on recognition of youth activist vocation in order to ensure quality care for young people and to ensure professionalization of service offered to young people.

Forum MNE believes that institutional recognition of this vocation can partly contribute that Montenegro becomes state that: recognises young people as a resource (not only in words but also in deeds), recognises young people as holders of changes, and simultaneously creates an environment which won’t motivate young people to leave the country but it will motivate and encourage them to see that they and their society and state can develop and contribute to democratic changes in Montenegro.

 What has been done so far?

On January 31, 2008, an expert meeting on the topic “Steps towards Recognizing the Youth Worker Profession” was held in Podgorica. At that time, in the presence of all interested parties (both organizations and institutions), it was assessed that youth work is needed in Montenegro as a part of the structured care of youth.

In response to some of the recommendations from the meeting, a “Youth Worker Profession” elaboration was created, which you can find in the library section. This was the foundation for initiating the process of recognizing the profession with all relevant stakeholders: the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Welfare, the Centre for Vocational Education, the Employment Agency and the Ministry of Education.

At the same time, a pilot-year of university course “Leadership and Developmental Community Youth Work” was launched at the Faculty of Philosophy, and the faculty professors’ capacities were built to work on this programme. This has resulted in an initiative to include certain aspects of youth work in some study programmes as elective subjects, and also in the initiative to begin with the opening of the MA studies in the field of youth work. The process, however, has been prolonged, and therefore we are still waiting for the beginning of MA, although all the necessary documentation is submitted.

 Education of youth workers was implemented through university programme Leadership and Community Youth Work, which was organised during academic 2008/09 year and in cooperation with the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Montenegro and before that Forum MNE independently organised this programme. Five generations of students from different Montenegrin municipalities finished training for Community Youth Work.

 The aim of the programme Leadership and Community Youth Work, which has been implemented in Montenegro since 2002, is education and training of professionals working with children and young people with the aim of acquiring knowledge and skills necessary for individual and group work with young people on personal and social development, self-confidence, development of values and attitudes, communication, work on conflicts and active participation in building and development of the society. This programme trained participants to do their work thoroughly, analytically and to work professionally at any moment. Through the training of participants the programme gave support to the process of education reform in Montenegro, as well as to the process of establishing the quality service for young people.

In the period from 2002 to 2007, this university programme was implemented in cooperation with the Faculty for Communication and Education (Högskolan för Lärande och Kommunikation) of the University from Jönköping in Sweden. Forum MNE, with the support of Forum Syd Balcan Programme, made an effort to localize this university programme and to start its implementation in cooperation with the University of Montenegro, as a step towards structured care for young people. As a result of negotiations, the contract which assumed the implementation of the education programme at the Faculty of Philosophy, was signed in academic 2007/08 year between two universities (Jönköping and Montenegro), and soon after that between two faculties (Högskolan för Lärande och Kommunikation and the Faculty of Philosophy in Nikšić), with the financial support of SIDA (Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency). The education of youth workers is an extra-curricular programme at the faculty, and Forum MNE and the Faculty of Philosophy work on the process of creating conditions so that the programme continues to be implemented in form of MA studies. One of the factors directly influencing on the process is recognition of the vocation of youth worker – which represents one of the most important and biggest fields of Forum MNE’s operation. This is the process which started long time ago and opening of MA studies was expected two years ago, nevertheless there has been no improvement in this part up to now, although all necessary documentation has been submitted on time and in compliance with all requirements.

Bureau for Education Services and the Ministry of Education accredited this programme as a part of professional training of teachers and programme was included in the Catalogue of professional training programmes for teachers for 2007 and 2008. The overall number of 15 teachers finished A level of training programme for youth workers in the community.

Democracy Workshops  is of high importance and priority for Montenegrin society, as well as the innovative manner of work with children who will be future driving force of our development road to the society of active citizens.

Democracy Workshops is the project of the Open Parliament of the Parliament of Montenegro, in which Forum MNE participates through giving expert and technical assistance. The concept of Democracy Workshops was initially established and implemented in Austria since 2007. The project was financially supported by ERSTE foundation.

Democracy Workshops aims at encouraging interests in young people in politics and democratic processes, and they are designed as a programme of civil education for students of primary schools, by which they acquire knowledge on parliamentarian democracy, functioning of parliament, law adoption and implementation, as well as institutions and development of the European Union, European values and Montenegro’s road to EU.

Through different interactive contents and in a way adjusted to their age, and with the help of selected and trained lecturers/trainers, children and young people, aged 8-14/15, learn through play how democracy functions. They show their acquired knowledge and experience through newspaper articles, radio or video reports, which are later published on the children’s parliamentarian web site. Apart from learning basic principles of democracy and acquiring knowledge on parliamentarian processes, the aim of the programme is to explain other two preconditions for political participation – media scope and a will to express an opinion.

Democracy Workshops are held during a school year. One school class together with a teacher participates in one workshop. Students visit the Parliament of Montenegro within workshops. Also, members of the Parliament and employees of the Parliament visit workshops and talk with the students, giving them an opportunity to find out more about the topic they discuss on the workshop. Participation in Democracy Workshops is open for all children of Montenegro and it is free of charge. All participants of the workshops are given certificates on a ceremony at the end of each cycle in the Parliament of Montenegro.

Fifty-six classes with 1339 students of primary schools from the central region of Montenegro participated in the first cycle of the workshops, on topic Democracy and Parliament, from October to December 2012. Seventeen schools participated in this cycle.

In 2012 all workshops were focused on newspaper articles as the final products of the workshops. At the end of the workshop, every child, the participant in the workshop, was given the hard copy of newspapers. Also, copies of newspapers were printed on the spot for the present teacher, as well as the copy for school. Ceremony of awarding newspapers at the end of the workshop is one of the most significant moments for children during the workshop. Impressions of all present students, as well as teachers, are extremely positive and encouraging.

Classes of primary schools from the south and north region, wherewith the whole territory of Montenegro is covered, participated in the workshops in 2013. At the same time, in 2013 the new thematic workshop European Union was introduced; on which all children of the given age also have an opportunity to participate. Introduction of radio report as a final product of workshops allowed participants new forms of creative expression with the aim of acquiring knowledge from the given fields. In 2013, 5184 students (15 of them from Czech Republic) had an opportunity to acquire new knowledge from the field of democracy, parliament and European Union. Sixty primary schools from twenty Montenegrin municipalities visited Democratic Workshops in 2013. In this period 224 workshops have been carried out, 175 out of which with the product in form of newspaper article, and 49 with a radio report as a final workshop product.

The year of 2014 brings novelty to the project Democracy Workshops namely in the final product, where workshop participants get the possibility to present their knowledge by means of short video clips.

During the period 2012-2014, a total number of nine thousand, five hundred twenty-eight (9,528) participants took part in these workshops.

Forum MNE, in partnership with the Serbian Center for Youth Work (CFYW), implemented the project “Active Youth for Active Communities”. The project is supported by the European Union, through the Delegation of the European Union in Montenegro and Serbia, under the Component 2 of the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance, within the “Cross-Border Cooperation Programme Serbia-Montenegro”. In addition to the CFYW, the partners were also the Center for Vocational Education Montenegro and the Urban In Association from Serbia. Project activities were related to the area of Sandžak – Berane, Plav, Rožaje, Prijepolje, Sjenica and Novi Pazar, and covered a period of 12 months.

 The goal of the project was to promote and protect human rights in Sandžak through capacity building and networking of formal and informal groups of young people in the fields of youth activism, human rights protection and the promotion of multiculturalism and diversity in communities. The implementation of project activities contributed to democratization processes in both states in terms of youth activism.

The project brought together 34 active young people from the aforementioned 6 cities, who were part of the project from the beginning to the end, and who made recommendations for the future period, and also shared their peer experience to help the youth activism in these municipalities to take off. Also, Forum MNE and CFYW have ensured that young people develop ideas for projects and initiatives that can be carried out after the implementation of this project.     

With the support of and in cooperation with the presidents of all six municipalities, as well as with the support of secondary schools in Montenegro and the youth offices in Serbia, the following activities were implemented:

 –      Three Trainings for Youth Activists on the following topics: “From Multiculturalism to Interculturalism”, “Community Development” and “Youth Activism”;

–              Workshops and mini-actions in communities;

–              Youth bus;

–              Publishing of a publication.

 The end of the project was marked by the publication of manuals with practical examples and ideas in the field of youth activism.

Forum MNE started implementing the project Combating Hate Speech Online, which is implemented under the auspices of the homonymous campaign at the European level in December 2012.

The first activity done by Forum MNE was the workshop on this topic, and it was implemented with the financial assistance of the European Youth Foundation. The aim of the workshop was creation of the secure basis so that the Internet in Montenegro could provide young people with a secure and democratic place for exchange of ideas, knowledge as well as for re-socialisation. The workshop was conducted in the period from 10 to 12 December 2012 with 20 participants from Montenegro. The workshop allowed participants to find out more about the European campaign and to participate in creation of further activities of the project in Montenegro through interactive programme, which combined theory and practice, as well as to learn more about hate speech, ways of its repression, and consequences which hate speech may have on the development of democratic society.

In 2014, Forum MNE and Youth and Sports Directorate organized a regional conference in Budva titled “Combating Hate Speech Online”, which brought together all the regional actors of the campaign.

Forum MNE, with the support of the Youth and Sports Directorate, translated the Bookmarks – A manual for combating hate speech online through human rights education. Bearing in mind that the translation of the manual was not done in any of the regional languages, Montenegro has decided to make the first official translation in our language. Forum MNE has implemented training for trainers on the topic of Combating Hate Speech Online for 15 activists from Podgorica, Rožaje, Budva and Cetinje. As a training product, the participants organized four events (tribunes and workshops) in four cities: Cetinje, Tivat, Budva and Rožaje.

contact

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