Youth participation in Lithuania

Lithuanian flag

Is there a national youth council, representing young people in your country? If yes, please provide the name, number of member organisations and number of young members.

YES - Lithuanian Youth Council (LiJOT) the biggest non-governmental, non-profit umbrella structure for Lithuanian national Youth organizations and regional unions of Youth organizations. LiJOT was founded on the 19th of September, 1992. At present LiJOT has 62 members (non-governmental Youth organizations), that means more than 200 000 young people in all Lithuania. (http://www.lijot.lt/)

 

Is there a ministry dealing concretely with the youth affairs in your country? If yes, please provide the name of the ministry.

YES - Youth Affairs Department, part of the Social Security and Work Ministry

 

Does the government in your country has a specific youth policy/youth strategy?

YES

 

From what age are young people allowed to vote in the elections? If different age for different elections (parliamentary, local, regional, etc.), please specify.

Young people can take part in all kind of official elections from the age of 18 years.

 

From what age are young people allowed to be elected in the elections to the representative bodies? If different age for different elections (parliamentary, local, regional, etc.), please specify.

Members of the Parliament must have the age at least of 25 years. Members of the municipality and local government must have at least 21 years.

 

Are there any youth participation initiatives at the local level (in municipalities), e.g. local youth parliaments/youth councils, meetings of young people with decision-makers? Please describe.

There are many Youth participation initiatives in the local level that continuously formed a significant structure to influence decision-making.

Lithuanian School Parliament (http://www.lmp.lt) unites all Lithuanian pupils. The aims of the Pupils’ Parliament are: 1) to represent the interest of pupils, to analyze the laws that are relevant to pupils, and to discuss pupils’ problems; 2) School Parliament takes into consideration the measures of law, result of considerations is given to the Lithuanian Parliament; 3) School Parliament initiative reacts towards the social topicalities, invites for discussions with official bodies. Lithuanian School Parliament consists of 95 members.

National Union of Student Representations of Lithuania (http://www.lsas.lt) is a national, democratic, independent, voluntary, non-profit seeking union of public organizations, connecting student representations of Lithuanian higher education institutions. LSAS mission is:

1) To represent students effectively on national and international levels and to unite students through active and qualitative student representations; 2) LSAS seeks for the quality of higher education and represents students in the governmental institutions, public organizations and various movements, supports and protects rightful interests related with social and economical prosperity and public status.

 

Are there youth participation/decision-making bodies at schools, e.g. school parliaments, student councils, etc.? Please describe.

Two organizations mentioned above can be described as the examples of Youth participation in educational institutions. LSAS can be presented as apparently active organization-decision making structure that takes care about all social, political problematic related with the student-body. LSAS representatives seek to collaborate with the highest governmental institutions to reach the aims. It organizes conferences, discussions with the members of Parliament, others State departments. It is very well organized structure that has a sectional element in every High education establishment in Lithuania. Every of those are encouraged to be active to show the initiative to participate in Youth politics.

Pupils Parliament of Lithuania has very similar structure. It also has a council in every school in the country. It must be mentioned that in every school it has more or less different significance which depends on the pupils’ activeness and will to participate in decision making.

 

Are there are youth parliaments or other youth participation bodies on the national level? Please describe.

In the capital of Lithuania there is Youth organizations union (http://www.vjosas.lt), which has more than 30 members in Vilnius city. Its goal is Youth organizations representation in Municipality institutions. It is a tantamount partner in the discussion about Vilnius’ Youth problematic.

There are many other active Youth participation bodies related with different subjects. For example “Youth line” (http://www.jaunimolinija.lt/) is nationally spread volunteer initiative which is active to help young people in the crucial moments of life.

Also, should be mentioned The EU based programme “Active Youth” which in Lithuania actively supports Youth initiatives in local areas, Youth can participate in the activity which was organized by them selves.

 

Is there any kind of education to youth participation/active citizenship included in the school curricula in your country, e.g. civic education? Please describe.

Part of the school curricula is named “Foundations of the Public Spirit”. The aim of the programme is to educate the Public Spirit competences (knowledge, abilities and attitudes), which all are essential for being active and responsible in continuously changing society. The programme explore and acknowledge individual rights and duties, the structure of society and country, main functions of government and country, democratic values and principles. It also encourages actively and responsibly participate in the daily life of school and society. Lastly, it educates how the personal and public behavior and activity should be formed according democratic and civic values. The programme consists of 3 parts: Civic knowledge and research; Participation and the initiative of change; Establishment and maintenance of the social relations.

 

Do media inform about youth issues? Are young people involved in media and their production, e.g. as journalists? Please describe.

Important part of media production is dedicated to inform about Youth issues. Big internet media portals provide separate rubric for the Youth issues presentation. They give the echoes of the political decisions related to the Youth problematic. Bring forward most important issues related with the changes in the fields of social life, education and politics. Youth is encouraged put forward new projects and there are many examples of great success: This year there was implemented project “hear about us” (Išgirskite mus). The aims of the project were: encourage Youth from the countryside take part in the community life, participate in spreading the information about the local issues (Youth, culture, talents and etc.). The result shows that Youth can be great creators of media production, that enriches steady course.

 

Are there youth information centres, official youth websites or other sources of youth information available for young people? Please describe.

Youth work information Centre (near the job centre) – provides the information about the situation in the job centre, opportunities to get the profession, legal work and migration chances in EU.

Above mentioned Youth information centre called “Youth line” as well works as a Youth information centre for social help and activities.

There are many information centers related with certain interests. They also have their information sources that are easily reached by everyone interested. As an example could be mentioned Performance arts information centres for Youth. The information centre provides more information for Youth and about theatre art. The centre also acts as negotiator between governmental and educational institutions and artist.

Youth Psychological Aid Centre (YPAC) – has a very wide field of activity: from Youth occupation organization, psychological help, to different information about the Youth needs provision.

 

Are young people in your country informed about the European youth policy and its priorities? What do you think can be done to make young people aware about this? Please describe.

Youth international cooperation agency in Lithuania is responsible to implement the European Union programme “Active Youth” provides information about Youth exchanges, Youth initiatives, European Volunteers Service, World Youth, Support for the European Youth cooperation and information exchanges. This information is accessible, but it has to be underlined that just a little part of youth in general knows that these programmes exist. There is a lack information about European Youth projects given in the most visited portals / venues of the certain public of youth. Some time it is needed just a small link to for a young person to be curious to check and go deeper finding the information. That is the main feature of the young person – he/she is curious to a new and rewarding experience, but in most of the cases primal tools must be given or shown.

For example me myself just by accident got to know about the EVS Programme, which is such a valuable experience for everyone who ventures to try. During the past 6 months I met dozens of very interesting young people and maybe one-two the most have heard something about this programme before, but all of them were very surprised to know about such an opportunity for Youth. That gives a reason to say that the Youth in Lithuania is willing to be active, participate, get and share their experience. But still there are gaps in information flows to reach the interested public that is surely willing to participate and to be active.

 

Author: Ieva Petkuté
E-mail: ipieva@gmail.com

The surveys were submitted by the participants of the YouthVoice project from the respective EU Member States. The questionnaires were part of their preparation for the Youth Voice project and each national group had to undertake a small research about youth participation in their country. The organisers cannot guarantee correctness of the answers.