Toolkit of GOOD PRACTICES on Citizen Participation!


Student advisory council


Country: Slovakia

Context

The student advisory council of Banská Bystrica was established in October 2012 and since that date it has been an important advisory, initiative and coordination body for the mayor of the city of Banska Bystrica. The council was created due to the lack of activities focused on young people in the city. Its intention is also to change the relatively small number of youth events in city. The Council was established on the initiative of young people in Banska Bystrica, who decided to promote their interests in the local context. In the past Banska Bystrica has had few youth councils or parliaments, and they functioned in a slightly different way. The current form of advice is based on a close cooperation with the municipal authorities of the city of Banská Bystrica, including the mayor.

Measure

The aims and objectives of the council are:

Strengthen young people's participation in public affairs
Allow them to gain experience
Promote networking of young people
Support decision-makers and the young
Create opportunities for meetings and discussions of young people
Implementation of youth projects at the local level
Organize events, conferences and actions for young people
Provide consultancy and trainings

Target Group

Pupils: Banska Bystrica has several primary schools. In some schools there are parliaments, which serve as a catalyst for activities organized by young people. However there is no single umbrella body that would allow the coordination of all such activities.
Students of universities and high schools: the city has two universities. There are functioning student government bodies here, but they basically only have a symbolic function, without a real impact.
Youth: there is a relatively small percentage of young people who engage in public affairs. This means that decisions are taken by our political leaders and rarely reflect what young people really need.

Methodology

The preparatory phase started with the implementation plan, which involved a group of young people and representatives of the city of Banska Bystrica.
A consultation then took place with a wider range of young people and representatives of organizations that have been identified as potential collaborators in the future. Experienced youth workers also participated.
This was followed by a process of explanation to the city council: prepared documents were presented and explained to the mayor. Based on the decision of the council, it has received the status of advisory body.

Stakeholders

Mayor of city – He decided to found the council and takes regularly part in meetings. The Council regularly proposes him various possible improvements in the youth field and together their try to find a way to make them a reality.
NGOs – were part of the consultation process from the beginning. They were mainly focused on
youth workers and gave an expert perspective on the setting of functioning mechanisms of the council, to match the reality of young people living in Banska Bystrica.

Assessment

Regular meetings of young people with political representatives including the mayor of city
Team of 30 young people
2 projects funded by youth in action program is in process of implementation
More than 5 trainings for young people were organized
More than 10 public actions for young people took place in Banská Bystrica

Impact

The student council prepared two projects that influenced the target groups. The first project was a cooperation with leisure center - JUNIOR called Take us seriously. The aim of this project was to improve cooperation and communication between city representatives and HTU students and increase young people's participation in decision-making. There was also another project called “Get involve yourself, learn a lot” with the main purpose to look into the issue of leisure activities for young people in Banska Bystrica and empower their participation in public affairs. Trainings and consultations were also offered.

Swot

1. Strengths (characteristics of the measure that give it an advantage over others):

Strong legitimacy, since the council represents the majority of schools in Banská Bystrica and has a wide network of supporters and volunteers advising the mayor and giving the city hall access to relevant information

2. Weaknesses (characteristics that place the measure at a disadvantage relative to others)

Not have strong powers ability to make a difference is mainly based on good relations with the Mayor

3. Opportunities (elements that the measure could exploit to its advantage):

Getting members and supporters more power in the regular meetings with the City Council leader

4. Threats (elements in the environment that could cause trouble for the measure):

Loss of support of the Mayor

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