Passivity is Passé!
The report developed by prof. Krystyna Szafraniec entitled Młodzi 2011 (the Young 2011), which analyses the young generation of Poles, shows that the young do not see any deeper sense in taking up political or public activity. In 2007, only 53% of young people were convinced that they should be interested in politics, and two years later the attendance of people aged 18-24 during the elections for the European Parliament amounted to only 29% (15% lower than general attendance). Similar situation is observed in the case of social involvement. Young people declare that they are active in sports clubs, associations and organisations or groups of football fans (15% in total), culture and hobby related organisations and associations (e.g. choirs, dance groups, film clubs) (in total 10%). They are also members of religious associations (8%) and public utility organisations (volunteer fire brigades, Polish Red Cross, and volunteer water rescue service).
However, interest in the involvement in political organisations is scarce. Only one percent of young Poles are members of political parties. The percentage grows with the aspirations and social activity of individual groups of respondents. Respondents of an opinion poll conducted by RAY among the beneficiaries of the Youth in Action programme say that young people should discuss political and social matters (87.5% of respondents said so). 85% of programme beneficiaries believe that young people should be committed to European policy, 82.5% of them say that they should have direct contact with politicians, and 92.5% of respondents think that they should exercise their right to express opinion during the decision-making process concerning youth issues.
Young Poles, as it is the case with residents of other countries, can participate in the structured dialogue with young people initiated by the European Union. Polska Rada Organizacji Młodzieżowych (Polish Council of Youth Organisations) established in 2011, which links, among other, Związek Harcerstwa Polskiego (The Polish Scouting and Guiding Association), Niezależne Zrzeszenie Studentów (Independent Students’ Association) and the Polish unit of the Erasmus Student Network, is responsible for the coordination of the consultations. Information on the results of the structured dialogue can be found on the Association’s website and on the portal of the Ministry of National Education.
Activating young people to political and public activity can take many forms. The most significant initiatives include Sejm Dzieci i Młodzieży, Children and Youth Parliament, which is an initiative of Polish Parliament <www.sejm.gov.pl> and Centrum Edukacji Obywatelskiej (Centre for Civic Education) <www.ceo.org.pl>, regional youth councils operating, for example in the Zachodniopomorskie Province and youth councils operating in individual cities and districts. Initiatives funded by the European Union, such as Action 1.3 and 5.1 of the Youth in Action programme also have a role to play there.