Rural Youth Europe and MIJARC Europe organized a Study Session on the topic Youth unemployment from the 4th to the 11th of October 2015. It was hosted and supported by the Council of Europe at the European Youth Center in Strasbourg, France.
The Study Session entitled “Unveiling rural realities – Unlocking youth potential“ is part of an annual work plan developed by MIJARC the aim of which is to improve the employment skills and change the attitude of young people coming from rural areas in order to ease their transition from education to professional life. The work plan is funded by the Council of Europe, through the European Youth Foundation.
Why this topic?
Traditional rural work lines have over time got concentrated to big units with more technology and less employers. The financial crises have had major impact on many small communities around Europe as closing of a single industry can endanger its whole infrastructure. Sudden rise of unemployment results in decreasing use of local services and migration to cities, which additionally weaken the small communities and set more companies at risk. Viral communities on the countryside are needed to ensure basic services for food producers. New kind of rural entrepreneurship to create employment is needed to break the evil circle. In modern Europe with (at least in theory) education opportunities for all, fast transport and technology, a bigger variety of professions could be done also on the countryside, but it is often the rural people´s own attitude and social upbringing that narrow down their choices. This is seldom spoken about. With this study session we want to explore about rural youth´s true potential and how they can create work opportunities.
From this background comes that the theme of the study session is creation of sustainable rural work opportunities. It is relevant for RYEurope and MIJARC, as two rural organisations, to work on this together as our young people meet the same challenges. Even if we are both rural we have different basic priorities, structure, geographical scope and activities, so we expect the cooperation to be enriching for both parts and for our participants. Our organisation could bring a new point of view on rural work issues to CoE.
What was discussed during the study session?
The participants to the study session came from 14 countries all over Europe: Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Macedonia, Norway, Rumania, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.
During the study session the themes of youth (un)employment and entrepreneurship were discussed on different levels. The week started off with more personal level discussions on the subject of youth employment. From there the discussion was taken further to local, organisational, national and European levels.
The main issues discussed were:
- Individual strengths, passions and paths to dream jobs
- What is a good/bad job like
- Ecovillage as an example of a community that provides employment
- Good practises on entrepreneurship education
- What are the needs of your community, what would young people need to be able to stay in their community and continue living in the countryside?
- How to build business ideas out of your own skills, passions and the needs of your community
- What are the causes of youth employment in your area/country, especially in rural areas?
- What solutions we can find for these problems: individual, educational, organisational and governmental?
- The Job situation in your home country
- What unused resources does your area/country/Europe have to create jobs in rural areas?
- Council of Europe perspective on youth employment
- How does the decision making on a European level affect youth employment? What can be done on a national level and what kind of decision making happens on a European level?
What were the results?
After three productive days working in identifying their personal skills and strengths, working on their entrepreneuship ideas discussing on the phenomenon of youth unemployment, discovered the different realities that exist in each country, had meetings with experts and a MEP, visiting the parliament, there was time to ACT.
The concrete outcomes of the session were five educational board game prototypes, a video and two workshop concepts. All of these materials have an educational aspect related to youth employment, entrepreneurship and the challenges especially rural youth encounter when transitioning to working life. These are tools to inspire more young people to discuss the transition from education to work, work rights and responsibilities and skills needed in work life. The participants used ideas and solutions discussed over the course of the week to create these materials.
News and pictures were posted on the MIJARC Facebook page and the participants created posters on different sessions. Some example can be found here.
Coordinating Team of the study session
The Preparatory team consisted six persons and included one person from the European Team of MIJARC: Veronika Nordhus(Germany) and one person of the European board of RYE: Sebastian Lassnig (Austria) . Furthermore the secretary general of MIJARC Europe: Alexandra Solomon (Rumania) and RYE Jenni Heinonen (Finland)and one volunteer from RYE: Geoff Thompson (North Ireland). Furthermore we had an external educational advisor: Zora Csalagovits(Hungary) from the European Youth Center.
At the training in Malta a toolkit on the topic youth unemployment was prepared. At the study session in Strasbourg the participants prepared five games, two workshops and a movie. These will be included in the toolkit. It should support our member movements to work on this topic in their organisations.
At our last team meeting in September we officially said goodbye to Jan Vanwijnsberghe who resigned after a two-year mandate as member of the European Team. However, we are confident that we can always count on Jan to help us whenever we need him.
Jan had been a member of the European Team for two years and for the past year he held the position of President of MIJARC Europe. Representing our full member movement KLJ-Belgium, Jan first got into contact with MIJARC Europe when he took part to the MIJARC World GA in Sri Lanka in 2013. He became more interested in the activity of MIJARC Europe, so in August 2013 at our Orientation General Assembly held in Poland, he decided to present his cadidacy for a place in the European Team and he was elected.
In his two-year mandate Jan focused on the topic of agriculture, on specific measures to contribute to the development of MIJARC Europe's member movements and on ways to support the exchange between member movements. Also, Jan contributed a lot to strengthening the structure of MIJARC Europe, setting procedures and guidelines to be used by the future members of the team and managing together with the rest of the team to affiliate three new observer member movements during his mandate.
Apart from his professional activity, Jan has also been a great friend and team player. He succeeded in creating a true Europen Team back in 2014, when three new members joined the team and he was the only "old" one using his experience and his leadership skills to facilitate the transition process and make use of the uniqueness and added value each new member brought to the team. Even though he resigned one year before his mandate was officially over, in order to follow other career opportunities, Jan has stayed close to the Team and has helped with the transition process throughout this period. Above all, we know the he will always stay close to MIJARC and that we can always count on his help when we need it.
Dear Jan, we wish you all the best in all your initiatives and may you always have the energy to pursue your dreams and inspire people just as you have inspired us!
The MIJARC Europe Team and Staff
“The magic to communicate” - our member movement YMDRAB -Bulgaria has implemented a big international project focused on working with autistic youngsters in rural areas of Eastern Europe.
Each autistic youngster has a unique personality. It is necessary to work with each person on an individual program suited to his/her specific problems and needs, in order to have a chance for normal development and successful integration into the educational system and society. Unfortunately, in the rural areas of Eastern Europe, youth workers often continue to work with autistic youngsters using outdated methodologies. The main reasons for this are the relatively limited access to quality information on the latest working methods and lack of international interaction and exchange between organisations involved in this mission.
In response to these problems YMDRAB has a partnership with the Logopedic Associations of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Romania. All together we implemented a big international project named “The magic to communicate”. The main project activity was a training course for people who work with autistic youngsters in rural areas of Eastern Europe.
The training course took place from 31.07.2015 to 09.08.2015 in Black See coast village of Kranevo, Bulgaria. The training brought together 50 youth workers and experts from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Romania and Bulgaria. Participants were speech therapists, youth advisors, social workers, psychologists, project managers and volunteers who are engaged in activities supporting the socio-educational and personal development of rural young people with autism in their countries.
The training was conducted by an international team of experts – we had one trainer from each country included. The activities were entirely based on the methods of non-formal education, including: presentations, mixed working groups, practical exercises, role plays, group discussions, field visits and others. Through these activities, the participants learnt about new methods for work with autistic youngsters used in different countries. They developed many new professional contacts and exchanged ideas, experiences and good practices for encouraging inclusion of the young people with autism into the educational system and labor market. The participants visited “Karin Dom” Varna – this is an active civil organization with a leading role in providing professional services for children with special needs in Bulgaria. The experts there explained about the methods that they used in work with autistic children and youngsters and their families. An important part of the training was presenting the opportunities offered by the "Erasmus+" Programme to the organisations which work with rural young people with fewer opportunities and planning of ideas for further interaction and cooperation among the partners.
Beside this busy working program the participants had time for various funny activities for intercultural exchange and amusements on the beach.
The overall project implementation was based on the MIJARC’s working method "To see - To judge - To act". As a result of the training the participants acquired many useful competencies. The course improved their professional capacity and will enhance the quality of their work. The project intensified the exchange and the interaction between the participants and also between the partner organisations so as to develop and implement new tools and innovative approaches in working with rural young people with autism. But undoubtedly the most important project result is that the newly acquired knowledge and skills are already being used in practice through the daily activities of participants with rural autistic youngsters at local level. At the same time the project outcomes are disseminated at national and international level, through the membership of the partner organisations in different European youth and professional associations.
This project was funded by the “Erasmus+” Programme of the European Commission, administered in Bulgaria by “Human Resource Development Center”.
This year’s MIJARC Europe's Extended General Assembly took place in Overisje, Belgium from 25th to 27th July. The delegates approved the Moral Report 2014-2015 and the Financial Report 2014, they discussed and took many important decisions about the MIJARC Europe strategy of enlargement. The Action Plan and the Budget for 2016 were discussed and approved. It is also important to mention about the position paper on asuum seekers and refugees was discussed and approved unanimously by the delegates.
We want to thank our guest, Ana Silva from MIJARC World, four joining our EGA!
There were also some important changes in the structure of MIJARC Europe:
Member movements: APSD-Agenda 21 from Romania became a full member of MIJARC Europe, while MJRC Catalunya was excluded.
European Team: Jan Vanwijnsberghe has resigned from his position and two new members of the European Team were elected:
Anastasia Cârjan from APSD-Agenda 21 Romania
Alexandru Hanny Alshehari from APSD-Agenda 21 Romania
There were new European Coordinators elected:
Daniel Steiger for KLJB Germany,
Francois Bausson for MRJC France,
Karel Billiet for KLJ Belgium,
Charlene Debrincat for GUG Malta and
Viktor Jovanovski for BUJRUM Macedonia.
Also Francois Bausson was elected as representative in the World Coommittee of MIJARC World.
Thank you all for your commitment and active participation!
YMDRAB - Bulgaria brought together young Muslims and Christians in their project "Stronger together: youth collaboration for interreligious solidarity"
13 young people from Municipality of Botevgrad and 13 young people from Municipality of Ardino participated together in the project “Stronger together: youth collaboration for interreligious solidarity”. The project was implemented by MIJARC's member movement, YMDRAB Bulgaria. The main project activity took place between 3rd and 10th July in Kranevo village and aimed at gathering an equal number of Christian and Muslim youth in a neutral place to motivate and prepare them to work for the prevention and peaceful transformation of interreligious conflicts in the Bulgarian rural areas.
Using various non-formal education techniques such as role plays, simulations, working groups, open discussions, presentation, the participants exchanged opinions and experience about the problems in their local communities and existing prejudices and stereotypes towards other religions. The youngsters had the possibility to share about their religious beliefs and customs. The group visited an orthodox church, a mosque, a synagogue and Armenian Church which was very enriching for everyone. The work of institutions was also discussed focusing on the local, national and international level. The most debated topic was the flow of refugees in Bulgaria and the work of the National Agency for Refugees. Information about Council of Europe and the work of the Youth Department in the field of interreligious dialogue was also presented outlining the No Hate Speech Campaign.
As a result of the project, the participants created a common Declaration, which outlines their opinion in regard to the interreligious tolerance in Bulgaria. In this declaration they identified the most important in their opinion existing problems and proposed actions for overcoming the situation. The actions were concretely addressed towards local and national institutions as well as towards youth NGOs and the Bulgarian youth as a whole.
Besides the busy agenda, the participants found time for entertainment – there were various thematic evenings and fun activities on the beach. After the end of the project they shared that they have immensely increased their knowledge about the other religion as well as about their own. Everyone clearly stated that in future he/she will share the learning outcomes and will actively work for creating interreligious tolerance in Bulgaria. The preparation of many follow-up activities will kick off soon to ensure that our project creates impact on local community level as well.
This project is implemented with the support of the Council of Europe by the European Youth Foundation