SERIES OF NORDIC-RUSSIAN PROJECTS ON THE SOCIAL INCLUSION AND EMPOWERMENT OF THE YOUNG PEOPLE

The NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERS supported two projects implemented by our team, both related to youth empowerment:

PROJECT “Discovering Youth Perspective through Activism and Leadership: Insights from Northwest Russia and the Nordic States” – 2021-2022

PROJECT “Promoting Social Inclusion of Youth: Experiences in Finland, Sweden, and Russia” – 2018-2020

Young people must be included from birth. A society that cuts itself off from its youth severs its lifeline.

Kofi Annan

INFORMATION ABOUT THE PROJECT “Discovering Youth Perspective through Activism and Leadership: Insights from Northwest Russia and the Nordic States” – 2021-2022

During 2021-2022 we continue the already existing Nordic-Russian partnership on youth inclusion by putting this topic in the context of youth-oriented decision-making. The project calls together academics from Finland (Åbo Akademi University), Sweden (University of Gävle), Norway (Nord University) as well as from Saint Petersburg (Saint Petersburg State University of Economics – UNECON and Saint Peterburg University of Management Technologies and Economics – UMTEL), Kaliningrad (Baltic Federal University named after I. Kant), and Pskov (Pskov State University) Regions of Russia. All cooperate with youth organizations and public authorities.

We address the challenge of enhancing youth empowerment through activism and leadership. Sharing Nordic ideas of youth-oriented decision-making.

We run online lecture series by Russian, Finnish and Norwegian experts on the rights of the young people, both scholars and practitioners. Lectures are tentatively scheduled for fall-winter 2021. Lecture languages: Russian and English. Students and graduate students of all the partner universities are invited to take part in! 

and

Work with the students who are invited to reflect on the differences between Russian and Nordic practices of youth inclusion. After our lecture series, we invite the students in the partner universities to try themselves in writing scientific articles on youth activism and leadership. Our team has the opportunity to publish the best works in one of the online publications of the Åbo Akademi University (Finland). 

Among anticipated outputs are advancing knowledge of youth rights and exchanging best practices, students’ articles in the Nordic journals, web collection of “success stories” of youth activism, these all deepening the discussion bout youth rights among many
stakeholders.

for more information contact: mariya.riekkinen@abo.fi

 

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INFORMATION ON THE PROJECT “Promoting Social Inclusion of Youth: Experiences in Finland, Sweden, and Russia” – 2018-2020

The project granted by the Nordic Council of Ministers ”Promoting Social Inclusion of Youth: Experiences in Finland, Sweden, and Russia” is implemented during the period of 1.6.2018-1.6.2019.

Åbo Akademi University (Finland) is a managing body responsible for co-ordinating the project in partnership with the University of Gävle (Sweden). The Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University (BFU, Kaliningrad, Russia), Pskov University, and Saint-Petersburg State University of Economics (UNECON) represent the Russian consortium. Contact

The project aimed at promoting youth rights in the context of Northwest Russia by virtue of exchanging best practices with the colleagues from Åbo Akademi University and the University of Gävle; running an M.A. course at BFU; conducting methodological seminar at UNECON; and maintaining information campaigns.

We aimed at creating a sustainable partnership for studying and promoting youth rights in NorthWest Russia, the Nordic states and beyond.  We relied on multi-stakeholder initiative by inviting to dialogue all stakeholders, i.e., youth, youth associations, students, teachers, and representatives of public authorities. We also negotiated about developing new joint grant applications.

The project events varied from staff training in partner universities and conducting two surveys among the students of BFU, Pskov University, and UNECON (the diagnostic survey held in September 2018, and the final survey held in September 2019); to arranging methodological round-table at UNECON (winter 2018) and M.A.-level study course at BFU (Spring 2019).

Our activities

13.12.2018 the UNECON University of Saint Petersburg welcomed the seminar “Youth support in the labour market: North-West Russia and Scandinavia experience analysis”. Representatives of public authorities, student associations, and universities discussed the issues related to youth access to labour market in an open format.

All the stakeholders, i.e. representatives of youth associations (the Student Council of Saint-Petersburg), public authorities (Vsevolozhsk Multicenter of social and labour integration and the SPb Committee for Labour and Employment), and academicians (project partner institutions) were present during the event. The goals of the seminar are three-fold. Firstly, the participants would be given the opportunity to participate in open multi-stakeholder dialogue on the issues of accessing labour market for youth. Secondly, the participants would deepen their knowledge of Russian and Nordic experiences in the said area. Thirdly, the participants would be exposed to the modern practices of research in the area of youth rights in Finland, Sweden, and Russia and be given an opportunity to find joint areas of interest, as well as to discuss future perspectives of co-operation. The topics of individual presentations were identified based on the project goals and included such issues as the status of youth in the labour market and public support of youth employment (70%), as well as utilizing vocational training and education for employment (30%). After the event, the participants could discuss the plans for future co-operation during the lunch.

13-15 March 2019 the BFU hosted an intensive course “Legal Foundations for Promoting Social Inclusion of Youth: balancing Education, Employment, and Social Life”.

Academics were running the lectures which covered the following topics: Legal Guarantees for Youth in Employment and Education: Legislation of Russia and Practices in Kaliningrad (Aleksander Salenko, Faculty of Law, Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University); Modern model of extracurricular work with students: the experience of the Department of International and European Law, Law Institute of the IKBFU (Evgeniya Gerassimova, Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University); Youth Rights and Social Inclusion: International Law and Legislation of Finland (Mariya Riekkinen, Åbo Akademi University); Inclusive education in Sweden: a Historical Description (Daniel Pettersson, University of Gävle); Bologna process for Inclusion in Higher Education: Swedish Perspective (Liya Kalinnikova Magnusson, University of Gävle); Practices of Youth Support by Public Authorities in Pskov Region of Russia (George Varlamov, Pskov State University).

The representatives of public authorities provided commentaries regarding the following issues: Activities and Functions of the Department for Youth, Sport and Youth Policy of the Committee for Social Policy of the Kaliningrad Administration (Evgenia Papakina, Directorate for Sport and Youth Policy, the Committee for Social Policy, Kaliningrad City District ); Activities and Functions of the Career and Employment Office of the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University (Alina Aleksyuk, Center for Alumni Employment, Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University); Activities and Functions of the Agency for the Affairs of Youth in the Kaliningrad Region, Government of the Kaliningrad Region (Denis Kalinovsky, Agency for Youth Affairs of Kaliningrad Region).

The representative of youth volunteer movement commented on the issue of activities and Functions of the Volunteer Center of the World Cup FIFA Russia 2018 in Kaliningrad (Mariya Saushkina, Volunteer Center of the World Cup FIFA Russia 2018 in Kaliningrad).

22 students – who successfully passed the course assignment – received the course certificates from Åbo Akademi University. This course was a good opportunity for youth, public authorities, and youth movements to freely and openly discuss the most topical issues related to the protection of youth rights. The students could share their visions of the optimal youth policy to which the representatives of public authorities provided their feedback. It was a valuable opportunity the students and the public authorities to share information and opinions on the topic of promoting social inclusion of young persons.

After the course, the students became inspired by the discussions and volunteered to co-author and article to the Project’s final report entitled “Promoting the Social Inclusion of Youth and Access to Labour Markets: Experiences in Finland, Sweden, and Russia” published by Åbo Akademi University. This publication reflects the strives of our team to encompass the points-of-view of several stakeholders and therefore addresses a wider circle of readers, including the public in general, as it reflects the perspectives on social inclusion of young people, presented by academics, students, and public authorities. We are immensely grateful to Alexei Antipov, Kristina Kirillova, and Mariya Prokopchik, the students of the I. Kant Baltic Federal University, who accepted the challenge of presenting own views on ensuring the rights of the young to social inclusion in the Kaliningrad Region. That was the first opportunity of these young authors in publishing texts in English. Many thanks to Iuliia Gorokhova representing the Employment Office of Saint Petersburg for investing time and effort to write the review on the access of young people to the labour market.

The contributions from various scholars have been invaluable for this volume. Dr. Liya Kalinnikova Magnusson shared the views on inclusion in higher education at the University of Gävle. Dr. Natalia Miuller representing both, the Centre for Education of Persons with Disabilities in Saint Petersburg and the scholars of the Saint Petersburg School of Economics commented on the efficacy of new approaches to inclusive professional education in Russia. Dr. George Varlamov, representing Pskov State University, deals with the social inclusion of the young persons in the Pskov region, focusing on education, employment and social life. Finally, Dr. Mariya Riekkinen of the Åbo Akademi University discussed the issues of youth inclusion and participation in the legislation of Finland.

Respectively, the contribution includes six thematic articles dealing with the issues of social inclusion of youth and access to labour market supplemented by introductory note:

  1. Social Inclusion, Empowerment, and Youth Rights: A Note on the Legislation of Finland by Mariya Riekkinen;
  2. Experience of Inclusion in Higher Education in One of the Swedish Industrial Cities in the North (the University of Gävle) by Liya Kalinnikova Magnusson;
  3. Inclusive Professional Education: Assessing the Efficiency of New Approaches by Natalia Miuller;
  4. Social Inclusion of Youth with a Focus on Education, Employment and Social Life: the Pskov Region Case by George Varlamov;
  5. Youth Support Programs in Kaliningrad Region: Overview and Future Challenges by Alexey Antipov, Kristina Kirillova, Mariya Prokopchik;
  6. The Status of Youth on the Labour Market in Saint Petersburg: Measures of Public Support and Their Implementation by Iulia Gorokhova.

Our team shared the belief in sustainability of our results and findings and strived towards deepening co-operation in the area of youth rights. The following strategy was agreed upon:

Strategy for enhancing social inclusion of youth in North-West Russia

 developed within the project “Promoting Social Inclusion of Youth in the Northern Industrial Towns: Experiences in Finland, Sweden, And Russia” by the Nordic Council of Ministers No. 18112.

Realizing that youth has to strive against challenges in combining working life, social life, and education;

Reinstating that inclusive society to which the international community is striving should ensure for all individuals substantive, not only formal, equality while observing human rights and socio-cultural diversity;

Recalling that the federal law on youth policy which would introduce a unified legal standard of protection is as yet lacking in the Russian legislation;

Acknowledging that youth social inclusion is a complex multidisciplinary issue of youth integration in society;

our academic teams formulate the following strategy of undertaking systematic actions  targeted at enhancing youth social inclusion in Russia, taking into account the best Nordic inclusive practices:

  1. Work on promoting youth rights should be based on multi-stakeholder collaboration principle where representatives of youth associations, academic community and public authorities openly and freely discuss the issues of enhancing social inclusion.
  2. All stakeholders should strive towards raising awareness of implementing youth rights in Russia.
  3. Academic community and universities should pursue efforts in enhancing the opportunities for inclusive education.
  4. Public authorities should adhere to the policy of youth-oriented decision-making and employ the youth perspective in deciding matters of significance for youth.
  5. Public authorities and society should continue designing measures to support youth in combining working life, social life, and education by providing advice, chances for effective participation and engagement.
  6. Public authorities and the universities should pursue to make multi-stakeholder seminars in educational institutions where all the parties could discuss the forthcoming initiative regarding youth right a regular practice.
  7. Public authorities and society should strive towards strengthening channels for empowerment the youth.
  8. Public authorities should pursue efforts targeted at exchanging best experiences of youth inclusion and participation practiced in different regions of Russia.

We hope that the knowledge and awareness of the rights of young people will support promoting social inclusion of youth.