The position of young people should be the focus of decision-makers

On the ocasion of August 12 – International Youth Day – the Centre for Civic Education (CCE) points out that, unfortunately, there is no reason to celebrate in the area of protecting young people and improving their position, because the problems that young people face are not being solved. Young people are, therefore, more and more inclined to leave the country, instead of investing their knowledge and skills in their and the future of society in Montenegro.

It is not unexpected, although it is worrying, that in a situation where their problems and needs remain chronically unaddressed, young people want to leave. Despite years-long warnings that we have a brain drain, it seems that this issue remains outside the priorities of decision-makers.

This year, the United Nations put focus on the problem of ageism, that is, discrimination based on age, in key areas for young people – employment, political participation, health care and justice. They also note the role of young people in the COVID pandemic.

Young people in Montenegro also have these problems, although they are “swept under the carpet”, and before the elections, they are covered with platitudes like “young people are our future”, which indicates that there is no awareness that young people are there – currently and now – and that we will lose them if we do not respond to their needs.

In addition, young people in Montenegro are also facing a decline in the quality of education and inconsistencies in the educational system with the labor market. Bearing in mind that life opportunities depend on education, it is clear that if education is not at a satisfactory level, young people are limited in their opportunities to get an adequately paid job, and hence they will be forced either to work more jobs or to depend on parents and guardians, which expands the complexity of the problem on other categories in society.

For too long, young people in Montenegro have only been a decoration for political parties, starting from their election programmes, through the lack of essential involvement in decision-making processes or in general in the work of key party bodies, to poor positioning on electoral lists. CCE appreciates that young people should be enabled to be both creators of youth policies and effective part of all socio-political processes.

Considering that the work on the new Youth Strategy 2022-2026 is currently ongoing, CCE appeals to the working group that the new Strategy and its accompanying action plan address the mentioned problems in an effective manner.

International Youth Day was established by the United Nations in 2000 to affirm the efforts of young people in education, community development, environmental protection and volunteerism. It is marked with the aim to point out the problems that young people have on a global level, but also finding solutions for those problems.

Željka Ćetković, Active Citizenship Programme Coordinator