“When planning for a year, plant corn. When planning for a decade, plant trees. When planning for life, train and educate people.”
Guanzi (c. 645BC)
PROJECT REFERENCE: 476-CHS-ISM-AZ IPF FELLOW: IBRAHIM ISMAYILOV PROJECT TITLE: The Impact of Non-formal Education on Youth Participation in Civil Society and the Role of NGOs in this Process ACADEMIC MENTOR: CAROL HARRINGTON, Ph.D., Department of Political Science, CEU, HUNGARY PROFESSIONAL MENTOR: NAMIK JAFAROV, Department Chair, The Ministry of Youth, Sport & Tourism, AZERBAIJAN
Significant portion of the first period of the fellowship year was devoted to the data collection, since the project initiative is relatively new in Azerbaijan and still unique in its nature even in a wider Europe. Major sources for the data collection were materials published by the Council of Europe, UNICEF, on-line web resources, publications of variouse youth Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), press releases of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Council of Europe Member States and offical decrees as well as research database of the CoE Directorate of Youth.
In addition to the available secondary research data the researcher, in consultation with mentors, has developed survey questionnaire which was targeted at active youth NGO members and recipients of non-formal education services by NGOs. Group and individual interviews helped to collect and analyze the primary data in order to identify the impact of non-formal education on youth participation as well as the perception of “youth participation” among young people themselves. The copy of the questionnaire is available for your reference on-line.
Another aspect of research data collection was possible through researcher's voluntary involvement as an international expert affilated with the working group of the Forum for Children and Families “On children, democracy and participation in society” under auspices of the Council of Europe program "Focus on Children and Families." As a member of the working group, it was possible to contribute into the development of all-European calls for proposals and data collection aimed to identify the best participation practices of young people in Europe and search for innovative methodology aimed to increase youth participation. The copies of both calls and final publications are also available on-line for your reference and downloading. Based on extensive data review and evaluation as well as study visits to the projects in six European countries, the working group with support of consultants has presented policy recommendations for the Forum and guide book for adults aimed to promote and enhance children/youth participation.
Extensive work has been done utilizing the database of regional and local development agencies – Open Society Institute and ISAR in identifying the available data on development of youth NGOs in Azerbaijan as well as in building the preliminary database of the youth NGOs. In addition to that, the cooperation with the representatives of the National Assembly of Youth Organization of Azerbaijan was another positive attempt to collect the methodological practices of youth NGOs aimed to increase youth participation in their respective communities.
Project Related Activities:
As it was already outlined above, the researcher has been invited by the Council of Europe Directorate on Social Cohesion to join on voluntary basis the working group “On children, democracy and participation in society,” which had its mandate from the Forum of Children and Families until December of 2003. The terms of the working group included the followings:
Taking as its starting point the provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and previous work undertaken by the Council for Europe on participation, the working group should identify practical means of ensuring and promoting real participation of children/youth in decision-making.
The working group should study children's participation in decision making in families and other living arrangements, schools and in the community. The study should also consider how children at different ages can participate in ways appropriate to their level of development as well as how equal participation for girls and boys could be ensured and promoted.
A particular effort should be made to identify and study projects that show what impact children's participation has on decisions and on the children themselves. It should also be apparent from the projects how participation is sustained in the long term (whether it is just one good example, or part of a continuing process). The meeting report of the working group in November 2002 is avaialble here and in October 2003 is here.
Involvement with the working group made a positive impetus for the research project in terms of data collection as well as providing possibility of exposure to other child/youth research networks and conferences. As a member of the working group researcher was requested to represent the Forum to the Conference organized by the Norwegian authorities in cooperation with the Council of Europe on “Student/pupil participation in Education and Training.” The brief report from the conference is also available on-line for your reference.
Another relevant event where the researcher has been invited to take an active part as the working group moderator was the seminar entitled: “EDC policy and practice: how to bridge the gap?” The Seminar was aimed at presenting the outcomes of the All-European Study on EDC Policies and Legislation and at discussing the policy implementation mechanisms that would allow bridging the gap between policy intentions and declarations and practice of education for democratic citizenship and human rights education. This was the second seminar organized by the Council of Europe on EDC policies, by the EDC Division in co operation with Integrated Project I of the Secretary General “Making Democratic Institutions Work.” The seminar had to lay down the foundation of and contribute to policy development work in the period of 2003 - 2005. The results of this work will be further disseminated during the European Year of Citizenship through Education in 2005.
Note: The expression “Education for Democratic Citizenship (EDC)” is used as an umbrella term embracing elements of education for democracy, citizenship education, human rights education, multicultural learning, civic education and other approaches.
Additionally, major policy-influencing initiative on the European level was involvement with the European Youth Forum – European platform of International NGOs and National Youth Councils – as an official delegate of the World Organization of the Scout Movement. Due to proactive youth policy influencing initiatives, the members of the Youth Forum were able to put forward and sponsor recommendations on non-formal education, which were incorporated into policy recommendations on European Commission White Paper – A New Impetus for European Youth.
Empirical Data Collection:
As it was indicated in the research proposal, the project also aimed to identify the methodological tools and the best available practices in non-formal education and youth training with inclination to Azeri realities. Therefore one of the aspects of the research was to identify and test such tools on an empirical example provided by the project organized by the Association of Scouts of Azerbaijan - Psychosocial-Rehabilitation and Training Center - “Teens to Teens.” This project foresees an establishment of the training center, which offers non-formal education scheme developed by the local specialists, based on the methodology and resources produced by the Youth and Sport Directorate of the Council of Europe and the World Organization of the Scout Movement. The organizers already allocated the financial resources for the project through the Humane Rights Education Program of the Youth Directorate of the Council of Europe and national resources. The organizers also requested researcher's assistance in developing the methodology and with preparation of training materials on voluntary basis, what will provide an opportunity for direct observations and data collection.
Cooperation with Other Researchers:
The International Policy Fellowship program has provided an outstanding opportunity for getting exposed to other international networks involved in the field and/or similar studies, thus significantly contributing to the prestige of the study as well as its publicity. There are number of researchers were approached with an impetus for wider exposure and exchange of information and possible collaboration. Those possibilities were utilized in Europe and USA, such as contact with Mr. Rolf Mikkelsen, National Research Coordinator of the Civic Study in Norway from the University of Oslo; email communications with Dr. Douglas W. Blum, Providence College; Mr. Kamil Melikov, Program and Planning Officer in UNICEF; Ms Irena Guidikova at Council of Europe, Mrs Siri Farstad, Program Adviser for Children and Families; Dr. Alikram Abdullayev, Academy of Public Administration in Azerbaijan; Ms Ana Nunes De Almedia, Instituto de Ciencias Sociais; Ms Kranzl-Nagl, European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research in Vienna and others.
Collaboration with Mentors:
Research mentors were contributing greatly in assisting throughout the course of the project work both on academic and empirical sides. Dr. Carol Harrington is a valuable resource academician on scientific research and methodology. Her advises on academic and policy research issues were essential in refining the structure of the paper as well as in developing concrete research tools, such as questionnaire on youth participation targeted at young NGO activists. During both IPF seminars and email communications she was very helpful adviser. Another research mentor Mr. Namik Jafarov –Department Chair on Youth at the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Tourism was additional potential resource not only in identifying an important research data, but also was very helpful in facilitating meetings with key youth policymakers at the Ministry and other State bodies. Based on his direct support, it was possible to get an access to the key audience and major stakeholders involved in youth policymaking, what eventually did help to make an input on the level of policy implementation.
Mentor Critique Form by Mr. Namik Jafarov
Mentor Critique Form by Dr. Carol Harrington
Law of the Azerbaijan Republic on Youth Policies
Decree of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic on Implementation on Youth Law
BACK TO HOME PAGE