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The alignment of the interventions of the Programme Projóvenes I and II with El Salvador's Youth National Policy has enabled the momentum of important improvement processes.

The National Direction of Youth, from the Secretary of Social Inclusion of Government of El Salvador, has presented in August 2010 the main guidelines of the National Youth Policy for the period 2011-2024, whose fundamental goal is to “collaborate so that young people achieve construction of identity and autonomy, thanks to the improvement of social innovation and citizen participation of new generations, and encourage their social cohesion and their sense of affiliation”.

The formulation of proposals included in the Policy has been carried out after an intense construction process relying on dialogues with young people from 262 municipalities, on participative workshop with governmental institutions and Civil Society Organizations, exhaustive documental revision and comparative analyze of successful experiences in this area in other regions of the continent.

Thus, the National Youth Policy establishes five (5) thematic lines of action for the period: i) enlargement of the access and improvement of the quality of medium and superior education; ii) support to employability and enhancement of labour insertion of young people; iii) inclusion of an integral approach of health in new generations; iv) enlargement and deepening in the focus of prevention of youth violence; v) encouragement of citizen participation.

The experience gathered via two interventions from the Programme of the European Union and the government of El Salvador – Projóvenes I y Projóvenes II – allows detecting, in general, a high degree of alignment between the design and setting up of activities of the Programme, and the orientations and influence processes of the National Youth Policy, which transmits a favorable message in terms of institutional support of the interventions and ownership from the highest level, both factors especially relevant if we think in terms of sustainability of the processes driven.

This way, we find coincident elements in the processes covered in the National Youth Policy, such as theconstruction of identity and autonomy for young people, which have been also encompassed from Projóvenes (determination of roles in education and occupation, consolidation of cultural options, establishment of social relations, research of decent work, economic independence, independent households, construction of well balanced familiar models, etc). The improvement of citizen integration and participation, highlighted in the Policy as a tool to face poverty and social exclusion, has also been promoted by Projóvenes. Through a focus clearly oriented to the creation of universal spaces, incorporation of new generations in safe spaces, encouragement of culture and sport, creation of an environment of dialogue and knowledge and opinion building or the promotion of construction of networks of collaboration. Projóvenes, thus, stated a clear alignment with the encouragement of social cohesion and sense of affiliation proposed by the National Policy, taking into account that for the creation of capacities and opportunities, we have to pay special attention to the needs of the different youth sectors, working in a specific way in relation with the most common expressions of violence and adolescent health, or incorporating young people expressive and communicative dimensions in deliberate spaces in order to encourage their participation.

It is worthwhile to highlight the agreement between the Policy and the Programme in the application of a proactive approach of their work, considering young people as strategic development actors, and not only a group of risk or subjects of rights. Their potential as a driver of new processes of change, their possible contribution in the implementation of public policies and their contribution to fluid and open dialogues with institutionalism, are the fundamental pillars converting young people into responsible of boosting their own development. We can also highlight the importance to include measures related to prevention, applied to all the young people and not only to the ones in risk situation, an approach which is supported by Projóvenes though its model of social prevention of violence.

Focusing on the Policy’s priority areas of intervention, we can also detect highly valuable synergies with the actions framed in Projóvenes: Education – even if the Programme didn’t address the educational sector as such, it did encourage creativity and rapprochement with youth and school culture, working in huge proximity with schools-;Labour integration – Projóvenes set the bases of a model of grants’ delivery and encouragement of labour insertion, even if it had a relative reach. However, this work did allow identifying this sector as a high priority, highlighting the favourable institutional support it could benefit from the Policy-; Integral health – even if the Policy encompasses a lot of factors, Projóvenes has worked on the incidence in thematic such as sexual and reproductive education or familiar and social violence, agents with a lot of negative influence in their daily dynamics-; Culture, recreation and sport – in the same way as the Policy, Projóvenes has been based on the high convening power and this kind of attractive recreational activities to create spaces of meeting, dialogue and intergenerational link and transmission of messages in the communities-; Prevention of violence and citizen security – from an approach of special attention to young women, and working on the patterns of identity and presence in the public space-; andYouth participation – encouraging the decrease of social isolation, highlighting the engagement of young people in spaces of more realistic citizen participation where it is possible to value the contribution of new generations.

Finally, it results especially encouraging to check how the main relevant problematic detected after Projóvenes experience, such as hard access to training or opportunities of integration into labour market, or the development of the woman’s role in her context, are also prioritized and supported at an institutional level in the framework of the National Youth Policy, hoping we will keep developing interventions oriented to work intensively on these elements to encourage human development of young people from El Salvador.

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Mélanie Romat
4 July 2016

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