An Exploration of Movements Toward National Youth Service Policy in 15 Countries in Eastern Europe and the Balkans

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This regional report examines movements toward national governmental policies that involve young people in community service and volunteerism in 15 countries of Eastern Europe, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. In the past, studies examining this region had neither identified whether national youth service policies (NYSP) exist, nor examined the factors that promote or hinder movements to create such policies. Research for this report reveals that none of these countries have a national policy that involves youth in community service. However, research described in this report identifies movements that exist to develop policies in 7 of the 15 countries, including Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, Macedonia, and Serbia & Montenegro. Respondents in these countries indicate that domestic and international non-governmental organizations lead the NYSP movement by providing formal opportunities for youth to serve, and that an increasing number of youth recognize the value of such service programs. Respondents identified the main barriers to NYSP development, including the general lack of youth-focused policies, lack of research on best practices for creating and implementing youth policies, shortage of financial resources necessary to fund policies and programs, lack of awareness in society and among government leaders of the benefits of youth service, and social-political background in countries that do not have a history of youth service and volunteerism. This report concludes with recommendations concerning the development of NYSP that respondents make to policy makers of their countries.


Brett Alessi

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