Youth Forum of Debaters II Edition: Youth Proposals

Youth Forum of Debaters II Edition: Youth Proposals

Youth Forum of Debaters II Edition: Youth Proposals

On May 28th  and 29th , SCiDEV hosted the second edition of the Youth Forum of Debaters: “Co-creation of Sustainable Policies and Practices” as a follow-up event to the Civil Society Forum held in October 2023 in Tirana within the framework of the Berlin Process with the support financial of the Open Society Foundation Western Balkans.

The Youth Forum of Debaters is an event conceived by SCiDEV with the aim of strengthening the practical capacities of young people to draft innovative political proposals as well as to promote constructive, inclusive and solution-oriented dialogue. The forum brought together students, activists and young professionals in 2 intensive days of group work for the conception of alternatives that aim to address priority challenges for Albanian youth and for the development of the country. The young people’s proposals were presented in front of actors from civil society, academia, business and representatives from institutions to discuss with the young people the applicability of their proposals in practice.

The topics of this edition of the Youth Forum of Debaters were inspired by the findings of the Thematic Group on Mobility, led by SCiDEV as part of the Civil Society Forum 2023, combining them with a strong dimension of social policies in support of students, as an area still not sufficiently explored in the Albanian context.

In this article you will find a synthesized description of the 4 proposals drafted by the participants of second edition of the Youth Forum of Debaters in the fields:

  1. Braingain & Regional Cooperation
  2. Entrepreneurial Universities
  3. Students’ access to psycho-social services
  4. Student card

Braingain & Regional Cooperation-DiasporaInn: A connecting platform between the youth of the region and the respective diasporas

The young people of the “Braingain & Regional Cooperation” group identified as a common problem for all the countries of the Western Balkans the phenomenon of brain drain and the limited capacities for attracting professionals to work in the region. In this context, the group of young people, led by the youth advocates Siesta Mersini and Eglantina Ndraci came up with the proposal of creating a digital platform where professionals aged 21-35 from the Western Balkans would have the opportunity to create cooperation with members of the respective diaspora with the aim generating innovative proposals for addressing challenges in their respective countries. Named DiasporaInn, the platform was proposed by the youth group to be set up with the financial support of the 6 Western Balkan governments and implemented as a RYCO project.

The DiasporaInn platform would enable registered users to connect with young experts from the country of origin, the diaspora and the WB6 region with whom they have the opportunity to establish cooperation to apply to calls exclusively launched on the platform by the governments of the countries of Wb6 in accordance with their needs and their priorities. Representatives from governments, as donors of the platform, would be  responsible  to select the winning proposals in accordance with their defined criteria, which would be public for every applicant in the opened call, and support the implementation of their proposals.

As part of the engagement on the platform, the working group envisioned an annual regional event (ForumInn) where groups benefiting from grants from their respective governments in the WB6 region present the concept of their proposal and progress with the project, with the aim of sharing good practices among the countries of Western Balkans and the promotion of regional cooperation.

Mr. Kreshnik Loka, Head of the Local Office of RYCO in Albania and Mr. Dhimitraq Xhaçka, specialist at the Directorate of Regional Cooperation of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, appreciated the young people’s proposal as ambitious and innovative, but stressed that the unresolved issues between the states of the region constitute a serious obstacle to moving the proposal forward.

Entrepreneurial Universities: A “department” for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Management

Leaded by the advocates Jani Nini and Nertila Spaho, the group of entrepreneurial universities came up with the proposal of creating a model of a special structure responsible for consolidating entrepreneurial culture within universities. The main functions of this structure would be:

  1. Development of long-term strategies for university projects and its positioning in relation to market requirements;
  2. Securing financing, managing the necessary resources and possible income;
  3. Integration of entrepreneurial practices in teaching and research programs;
  4. Realization of projects with high impact;
  5. Creation of Incubators for the support of startups and new ventures.

Dr. Altin Sholla, administrator of Tirana Business University, shared specific recommendations with the young people, where, among other things, he emphasized the need to revise the legal terminology for the naming of the structure, to avoid the ambiguity of their proposal to the responsible actors.

Students’ access to psycho-social services: A monitoring board for psychological well-being in Albanian universities

Inspired by the model of the University of Zagreb and with indications from the current situation at the University of Tirana, as the largest public university, the group of students’ access to psycho-social services under the direction of the advocates Naze Deda and Ardi Kallamoqi, proposed the creation of a body within the universities which would be responsible for organizing the provision of psychological support for students and university teaching staff. Called the “University Psychological Welfare Monitoring Board”, this body would be responsible for establishing and monitoring psychological counseling offices in all major university units. The group also proposed to connect  this body with other important stakeholders such as  such as the Ministry of Health and Social Protection and the Order of Psychologists to support the implementation of the Mental Health Action Plan 2023-2026 as well as to ensure the exchange of expertise and independent external evaluators of the new body.

Ms. Joniada Hito, head of the Career Counseling Office at the Directorate of Social Services of the Municipality of Tirana, welcomed the proposal from the young people and recommended the young people to include pre-university education in their proposal and to propose the creation of a structure that monitors provision of psychological services within educational institutions at the national level.

Student Card: A Student Card Monitoring Board

The Student Card Group leaded by the advocates Altea Hoxhaj and Sidorela Vatnikaj identified as the main problem in relation to the Student Card in Albania the lack of transparency of the institutions responsible for the implementation of the student card as well as the lack of offer for services that have a direct impact student living costs such as packed meals, transportation, literature, etc. As a solution to these challenges, the group proposed the creation of the “Student Card Board”, a structure under the Ministry of Education and Sports with representatives from Ministries, municipalities of cities where there are universities, businesses, universities and students with the following functions:

  1. Monitoring the operation of the Student Card at the national level
  2. Drawing up an annual report on the functioning of the Student Card in Albania
  3. Lobbying for the extension of student card benefits

What is the next step for proposals?

SCiDEV will support young people in advocating their proposals to the institutions responsible for the implementation of their proposals. The young people’s proposals, together with the comments of the policy makers during the forum, will be expanded by the advocates of the “From Words to Action” Campaign into 4 dedicated policy documents, which will be public and will serve as solid trustworthy source of data  to support initiatives that  foster more comprehensive social policies for students.

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