Report: Youth and Public Policy in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan has developed a raft of youth policies over the past decade, but few of these seem to genuinely improve young people’s access to information, rights, and opportunities. Too many of the laws, regulations, and conceptual documents have been off-the-cuff responses to political events. Our audit of public policies and their impact on young people shows why Kyrgyzstan’s youth policy is ineffective, poorly targeted and formalistic.

CONTEXT OF THE YOUTH POLICY REVIEWS

This audit, published in 2012 with the generous support of the Open Society Foundations, evaluates the impact of public policies on young people in Kyrgyzstan, analysing not only specific youth policies, but the wider policy dossiers affecting young peoples’ lives and rights.

It is part of a pilot series of six audit reports reviewing public policies affecting young people in the following countries: Estonia, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Nepal, Serbia, and Uganda. The pilot project consisted of research teams on the ground to conduct analyses based on a specially developed evaluation matrix, assisted and supported in the research process by international advisors. An International Editorial Board supervised and evaluated the pilot process.

The Open Society Youth Initiative provided funding for the pilot project. The Youth Initiative supports young people in their efforts to be agents of positive change and advocates for the full and effective participation of all young people in the political, social, and cultural life of their communities.

OBJECTIVES OF THE YOUTH POLICY REVIEWSReview_Kyrgyzstan_Cover_Full

The pilot project had the following objectives:

  • To review public policies pertaining to youth (including, but not exclusively, specific youth policies) in several countries using the draft evaluation matrix specifically developed for the purpose.
  • To make available research that will allow young people to engage in an informed debate on the public policies affecting them and their communities in the countries concerned.
  • To build a pool of young researchers capable of evaluating policies pertaining to youth, including specific youth policies.
  • To contribute to building the capacity of the youth sector in the countries concerned to research public policy issues.
  • To develop the evidence base for pilot advocacy activities in cooperation with the Open Society Youth Initiative and other partners.
  • To broaden the scope of the international youth sector to include general policies pertaining to youth that go beyond specific youth policies.
  • To develop the capacity of the international youth sector and its partners and networks for evidence-based strategy development for young people and their issues.

KEY FINDINGS OF THE KYRGYZSTAN REVIEW

 

Over the past decade, Kyrgyzstan has developed a raft of youth policies, but few of these seem to genuinely improve young people’s access to information, rights, and opportunities. Too many of the laws, regulations, and conceptual documents have been reactive: off-the-cuff responses to political events—particularly, young people’s participation in the popular uprisings that overthrew two presidents—rather than the enactment of a strategic vision. Worse still, many policies exist on paper only, without effective mechanisms to achieve their stated aims.

Many of these policies are currently being revised or written anew; unfortunately, this has become a perennial activity that seems to bear little fruit—in part because policy goals tend to be very broad and the means of implementation very vague. Frequent changes in leadership and bureaucratic restructuring make the problem worse. In the past eight years, responsibility for youth policy has bounced around among six different agencies, creating a lack of continuity and further diluting officials’ accountability.

Kyrgyzstan’s youth policy lacks a comprehensive, systemic approach to existing problems and remains ineffective, poorly targeted and formalistic. Worryingly, many youth-related programmes rely heavily on international donors and fluctuate together with their priorities and resources. Foundational youth policy documents contain contradictions and lack concreteness; responsibility for implementation continues to be diffuse; data collection and procedures for evaluating and monitoring policy are extremely weak; policy coherence, cross-sectoral cooperation, and creative approaches to engaging young people are also missing.

Overall, Kyrgyzstan’s youth policy fails to focus on young people’s needs or future roles in society.

Predictably, the positive impact of past youth policies has been minimal.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT AS A PDF

The full audit report can be downloaded as a pdf document here:

English: Youth and Public Policy in Kyrgyzstan (2 MB, pdf)
По-ру́сски: Молодежь и государственная политика в Кыргызстане (2 мБ, pdf)

THANKS & ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We extend our thanks to Chinara Esengul, Baglan Mamaev, Natalia Yefimova-Trilling, Harini Amarasuriya, Yael Ohana, Milosz Czerniejewski, Mehrigiul Ablezova and Emir Kulov for their hard work on the report, to all the persons we were able to interview and discuss the situation of young people and the impact of public policies on youth in Kyrgyzstan (see appendix 1 for an exhaustive list), as well as to the teams of the Open Society Youth Initiative, iDebate Press and Demokratie & Dialog.