Education of youth leaders

Project duration: 2002

Project supported by:
Embassy of the United States

Project partner:
Informal Education Debate Center

Project background
Young generation have important part in the social and political life of the country. In Lithuania youth have an opportunity to participate in consolidating democracy, developing civil society. Through their participation in new democratic institutions and socio-cultural activities young people can also help shape society and so make it into one with which they identify.

Maximizing young people’s contribution to the building of society became the most asserted goal of youth policy in contemporary Europe. Government of Lithuania in its 1996 resolution of State Youth Policy Conception declare, that it is important to raise intellectual, civil, democratic young generation actively participating in political, economical, social and cultural life of society.

Young people participate in civil society through a wide range of activities, including social organizations, sports and recreation clubs, and non-governmental organizations. Youth organizations, in particular, provide a space where young people can develop and represent their interests. In Lithuania much of this type of participation is still evolving as a new relationship forms between the state and civil society. During the transition the share of youth formally joining in social organizations has been low. Although there are now a great variety of associations, there is a tendency among young people to reject organized activities.

One of the reason this situation occurred in Lithuania – there are no active leaders of youth organizations. The other reason, that youth is lack the appropriate skills for implementing democracy: in order to participate in the cultivation of a free democratic environment, one must be skilful in democratic practices such as tolerance and the abilities to develop understandings and reach conclusions.
The development of civic values is not a task only for the school and its teachers. Lithuanian NGOs by joining their experience also can assist in the process of development skills and values to make democracy work by offering the effective teaching programs and organizing workshops for the youth organizations.

Project aims
  • To encourage the activity of youth organizations and they involvement in social-political life of Lithuania.
  • To provide the opportunity for young people to participate and develop as individuals and citizens.
  • To encourage youth participation in all aspects of society.
  • To create and apply the effective learning model in order to promote the competence of youth organizations leaders, members and participants.
  • To present for the participants of youth organizations the set of modern interactive teaching methods which will be useful in personal, social and professional activities.
  • To foster the cooperation between youth organizations.
Project participants
Target groups of the project: social and political youth organizations, unions of students and pupils.

36 members of these youth organizations participated in the project:
Students Association of Lithuanian Law University Public Administration speciality
Liberal Youth
Pupil Parliament of Taurage "Versme" gymnasium
Students Association of Vilnius University
Youth Centrists
Association of Siauliai youth organizations "Apskritas stalas" (Round table)

Project lecturers:
Daiva PENKAUSKIENE, director of Modern Didactics Center
assoc. prof. Valdone INDRASIENE, associated professor of Vilnius Pedagogical University
Asta RAILIENE, lecturer of Modern Didactics Center and Vilnius Pedagogical University
Zoja RUDAK, lecturer of Debate Center Teacher of Vilnius M. Mazvydas secondary school
Neringa SKREBYTE, lecturer of Debate Center

Project activities
The main goal of the project - to develop program, which can help acquire skills basic to the functions of a democracy and organize set of seminars to show how to apply these skills practically.
The activities of the project was build on two programs – Critical Thinking Development and Debate. They are run successfully in Lithuania for several years already.

The core of Critical Thinking Development program – critical pedagogy and democracy building, based on the best achievements of the educators, such as Piaget, Dewey, Nodding, Vygotsky, Anderson et etc. The methodology of this program is devoted to acquire and strength the intellectual skills, that enable young people to perceive, describe, explain, analyze, and evaluate information. They empowered them to argue positions and make decisions.

Debate as a rational discussion is an essential activity in democratic societies. Debate program helps to maintain participation skills, that render the young people capable of effecting public and civic life. They assist them to work with the others in order to arrive at common interests and resolution of conflicts through compromise. Debate is a effective tool to maintain communication abilities, logical argumentation, rhetoric, tolerance to other opinion.

Joined program of Debate and Critical thinking development designed according needs of youth and series of workshops based on this program, would help the younger generation of Lithuania to become active citizens of their country, to foster positive attitudes in finding solutions for the better future of our society.

January-February 2002
Needs assessment - sociological survey in youth organizations
Qualitative research "Needs of the youth leaders for training" was carried out in 6 various type youth organizations, such as Scouts, Youth Liberals, Youth Christian Democrats, Youth Centrists, Youth Conservatives and Youth Ateitininkai. More than 100 active participants of the youth organizations were interviewed. The results of the research revealed that respondents think youth leader’s ability to unite and motivate a team is the most important skill. Other important skills are planning and organizing, and accepting responsibility. Some other important skills, which had been mentioned, were coordination of personal and group interests, and organizing and leading the meetings. The sociological survey showed that the representatives of non-political organizations more often participate in different training than those of political organizations. Both, the representatives of political and non-political organizations, initiate and organize training themselves.

7-8 May 2002, Vilnius
Workshop for teams of youth organizations.

Topics of workshop:
- Team building and motivating
- Coordination of individual and group interests
- Creating favorable environment for communication and cooperation
- Formulating and defending the opinion
- Discussions and argumentation

June 2002
Adaptation existing materials for the target group.

2-5 July 2002, Druskininkai
Summer school
Topics of workshop:
- Problems identification and ways of their solving
- Search and selection of the information
- Preparation of the public speeches
- Reading and analysing of official documents
- Replying to official documents
- Styles of debates. Parliamentary debates
- Development and implementation of projects

July-September 2002
Summarizing of results. Analysis and the preparation of the final training model.

Project results
The developed and tested program could serve for youth organizations as a model and successful tool for further development of civil competencies. The representatives of the youth organizations will be able to use acquired skills in their social and personal activities.



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