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7.7 Youth policy

Nevertheless, the UNDP’s National Human Development Report for 2008, entitled “Youth in Turkey” and drawn up in close consultation with young people, concluded that “Turkey needs to go beyond its present rather problem-based, sectoral approach to youth with a comprehensive youth policy and with institutions to ensure follow up action”.

Youth in the Constitution, Ninth Development Plan and 2012 Annual Programme

Article 58:
 The state shall take measures to ensure the training and development of the youth into whose keeping our state, independence, and our Republic are entrusted, in the light of contemporary science, in line with the principles and reforms of Atatürk, and in opposition to ideas aiming at the destruction of the indivisible integrity of the state with its territory and nation… The state shall take necessary measures to protect youth from addiction to alcohol and drugs, crime as well as gambling, and similar vices, and ignorance.

Article 59: The state shall take measures to develop the physical and mental health of Turkish citizens of all ages, and encourage the spread of sports among the masses…. The state shall protect successful athletes.

Ninth Development Plan: 

The accelerating transformation process has also negatively affected the cultural and social relations within the family and the society. Diversification in mass communication, inability to leave traditional methods in communication within the family, and insurmountable problems of the education system have increased the problems young people face such as breaking away from their families, becoming insensitive to social problems, hopelessness and lack of self-confidence and, consequently, increased the crime proneness among young people. On the other hand, increase in communication opportunities and development of non-governmental organizations enable the young people to clearly express their personal demands.

Equal opportunities will be provided for the women, the young, and the long-term unemployed, the disabled and former convicts, who encounter difficulties in the labor market.

Measures will be taken to ensure better communication of the young people with their families and the society, to develop their self-confidence, to increase their sense of belonging to the society and sensitivity towards the society they live in, and to ensure their participation in the decision making processes.

2012 Annual Programme:

Problems in the social field such as the weakening of the sense of social belonging and solidarity, the dissolution of families and identity conflicts affect young people the most. Harmful habits such as cigarettes, alcohol and narcotics, violent tendencies and misinformed use of the Internet continue to pose risks to young people… Services for young people need to be more varied and to be provided in such a way as to enable them to take part actively in social life and develop as individuals, and to strengthen their feelings of self-confidence and belonging to society. To this end, the need persists to develop and implement policies and services and to increase coordination among the institutions concerned… In the processes of developing and implementing policies for youth, it is important to develop an approach which takes into account the demands and participation of young people and which emphasises collaboration with youth NGOs… With the establishment of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, it is aimed to improve the services provided to young people in terms of their scope and quality and the number of beneficiaries.

The basic aim is to bring up our young people as individuals who possess national and moral values, are equipped with knowledge and experience, have a strong sense of self-confidence and social belonging, take an active part in social life and are aware of their basic rights and freedoms.

Unlike in most other countries, there is as yet no single policy document or other mechanism which would help to coordinate public work for young people. Ideally, a youth policy would set measurable targets for ensuring that all young people including the most disadvantaged have a certain minimum level of well-being, information, work and leisure opportunities, access to social security and all services they may need, and benefit fully from human and civil rights, and so make a healthy transition to adulthood. It would set out the strategies and activities - from awareness raising to the provision of facilities or services, that are needed to achieve these targets, allocate responsibilities and make institutional and budgetary arrangements.

Such a policy would need to be developed through a participatory process. This would help to build support for institutional and financial arrangements to ensure provision of cultural, leisure, sporting and social activities for young people on a rights-based, demand-led basis, taking local characteristics into account. It would also facilitate the collection of the necessary additional data on adolescents and their needs and concerns. However, according to the 2008 UNDP National Human Development Report, Turkey and Poland were the only countries in Europe which did not have national youth councils.

The government’s Annual Programme for 2012 takes both a protective and an empowering approach to youth. It foresees closer coordination among various ministries, local government and civil society organisations in the provision of youth services, notes the need for more opportunities in sports and arts, and aims to strengthen “quality-improving” services, headed by guidance and informal education, for those who are neither in education nor in work. However, the Annual Programme also falls short of promising to develop a youth policy – notwithstanding earlier expectatıons of the development of a comprehensive national youth policy under the leadership of the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

In February 2012, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan proposed the goal of a “devout youth” (dindar gençlik), apparently with the vision of religion as a force with which young people can the risks - and possibly the difficulties - which they face. This approach seems to be influencing the nature of activities for young people organised by the Ministry of Youth and Sports as well as the Department of Religious Affairs.

In May 2012, the Ministry of Youth and Sports held a week-long “Youth Assembly” in Ankara – the culmination of a series of regional workshops involving thousands of young government supporters. The Assembly was addressed by the Prime Minister and was to lead to a concluding statement concerning youth policies.

UNICEF Turkey Country Office, Yukarı Dikmen Mah. Alexsander Dubçek Cd. 7/106, 06450 Çankaya/Ankara. Telephone: +90 312 454 1000 Fax: +90 312 496 1461 E-mail: ankara@unicef.org