Research on Youth Civic Engagement in Easter Europe

Research Results on the Level of Civic Engagement and Social Capital Understanding
in the Youth Sector in Eastern European Countries

"No one is born a good citizen; no nation is born a democracy. Rather, both are processes that continue to evolve over a lifetime. Young people must be included from birth. A society that cuts off from its youth severs its lifeline."
(Kofi Annan, Ghanian Diplomat,
7th UN Secretary-General, 2001 Nobel Peace Prize Winner)

In 2015 the Social Innovation Centre received a grant from the "Europe for citizens" program for a project "Social capital development as a tool of youth civic participation in Eastern Europe countries" with the aim to roll out a youth civic activism. The main focus of the project is to provide training, development and networking opportunities to a group of young people from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania, to support them in developing and implementing ideas for social change, and helping them to be aware of the necessity to be active society members and understand social capital development better. The objective is to generate learning and experience that will guide the future improvement and promote positive youth development. The project is implemented by 5 partner organizations from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania.

How to stimulate the active civic engagement of youth? What really motivates youth to be active and engaged? How to convince decision makers that it’s worth the support and continued development of civic education of youth since very early age? Those questions and thoughts were summarised by partners of and further developed within this research. The intention is to strengthen the regional network and cooperation between organisations that supports civic engagement of youth in Eastern Europe countries.

source: socialinnovation.lv

Results of this research are intended for policymakers to:
  • ƒEstablish an aspiration that directs policy, budgeting and oversight on the desired result
    for youth and particularly their civic engagement.

  • Use results to drive decisions about policies, programs, practices and invest in development
    of proper support.

  • Measure status and assure accountability by using research data.
  • Improve cost-effectiveness, since smart policies that make a difference are essential
    to the nation’s long-term economic and civic health.

The research focuses on the two key issues: youth civic engagement activity and social capital understanding in the youth sector in the five Eastern Europe countries: Latvia, Lithuanian, Estonian, Polish, Romanian.

For the research purposes the partner organizations conducted:
  • the content analysis based on available national and local documents, legislations,
    and reports about the condition of youth policy and relevant civic engagement activities
    in particular countries,

  • an online questionnaire among youth.

The research includes information about the civic activities in the youth sector, the main reasons for youth inactivity, as well as three successful examples of youth involvement in civic activities and other interesting facts.

The research also summarizes the results of a questionnaire of young people’s participation in various activities and their knowledge about the social capital. A total of 550 questionnaires were fully completed. Latvian respondents in total were 101, Lithuanian 102, Estonian 110, Poland 113 and Romanian 116 and 8 responses from other countries, which are not included in the analysis.

The research results conclude with the recommendations for the local municipalities, youth organizations and other institutions on how to involve facilitate and make more effective civic engagement in youth sector.

Project website: civicyouth.eu

Detailed research results are available for download here.

Konstance Šperlina, Latvia

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