Let us recall the European Youth Goals and their context: 11 EYG has been defined as the outcome of the 6thcycle of the European Union Youth Dialogue process – which took place in 2017 / 2018 – with over 50.000 young people, in the form of Europe-wide survey. So surely these goals reflect the views of European youth and summarise the issues that affect them in Europe. They indicate in which areas change still has to happen so that the young people can use their full potential and could function with dignity and satisfaction in their societies:
- Connecting EU with Youth
- Equality of All Genders
- Inclusive Societies
- Information & Constructive Dialogue
- Mental Health & Wellbeing
- Moving Rural Youth Forward
- Quality Employment for All
- Quality Learning
- Space and Participation for All
- Sustainable Green Europe
- Youth Organisations & European Programmes
These goals are supposed to affect the EU Youth Strategy 2019-2027. There are still 5 years to go for mobilizing EU level policy instruments and also actions at local, regional and national levels – to shape policy in the interest of young people.
In the Polish field, every point above seems to be equally important, essential and necessary to implement, so that the quality of functioning of young people is worthy. The list is complete, thoughtful and – most importantly – reflects the real desires and aspirations. Therefore, I would not add another item to this list. On the other hand, I would expand some of them, in the certain context – in the current situation of Poland – with a very important aspect related to the war in Ukraine: nowadays, in our country, there are about 800,000 school-age children from Ukraine. The number of Ukrainian students in Polish schools is approx. 200 thousand, of which approx. 40 thousand in Polish kindergartens and 160 thousand in Polish schools.
There is a huge role and responsibility of the education system for these children in the refugee crisis. We face such problems as mental resistance of teachers, staff shortages, lack of funds, everyday functioning of the school in extreme conditions. We certainly need development of prevention system of difficult situations, adaptation processes, leveling language barriers, defining responsibility of educators, students and parents in the communication process. And after that, preparing newcomers to the Polish labour market…
Before summer holidays, which last from the end of June till the end of August, most Ukrainian children used the online system and were in the Ukrainian education system. If the war does not end, Polish education system must anticipate a situation where some of the majority that were online, will also enter the Polish education system from September: even 0.5 million children from Ukraine may find their way to Polish schools.
In fact, the circumstances are very interesting: youth from Ukraine, who have now found refuge in Poland, but also in other European Union countries, will experience similar problems as EU youth and on the other hand, will have the opportunity to take advantage of the EU strategy, despite the fact that by citizenship, they are not (yet) members of the European Union. It would be great if it was a chance for them and at least slightly compensated for the misfortunes and traumas they experienced in their own war-torn country.
Special attention should be paid to youth risking marginalisation based on potential sources of discrimination, such as their ethnic origin, sex, belonging to the LGBT+ community (a very low level of tolerance of the community in Poland, which is struggling with deep problems: depression, suicide), disability, religion, belief, political opinion or poor socioeconomic situation.
The situation in Europe related to the war in Ukraine shows how well the 11 EYG have been defined, as they are all the more up-to-date and necessary.