Youth Democracy projects

To foster a thriving civil society, it is essential for individuals to have a clear understanding of their rights and how to exercise them. Research and institutions have noted that Estonian youth have limited involvement in decisions affecting them, calling for a more experiential and practical approach to teaching democracy in schools. This is why the Estonian Cooperation Assembly is committed to advancing youth democracy and democratic education. Schools are the foundational environment where young people first engage in meaningful democratic participation.

 

OUR INITIATIVES :

DEMOCARCY WORKBOOK  – Three Exercises for School Students to Become Active Citizens

Schools play a pivotal role in providing young people with their first experience of democratic participation. A good school actively promotes student engagement, encourages participation, and nurtures creativity and critical thinking.

The Estonian Cooperation Assembly has developed a range of activities, including digital tools and programmes, to foster engagement, encourage participation in decision-making processes, and strengthen young people’s democratic mindset.

PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING FOR SCHOOLS

The Estonian Cooperation Assembly has been organising the Participatory School Budget programme since 2020 in collaboration with Transparency International Estonia. The programme’s primary objective is to enable students to democratically influence the improvement of their school life by submitting proposals and voting on them using modern digital tools. This initiative not only enhances students’ understanding of democratic decision-making processes and digital tools but also stimulates their participation in school life.

An impact study conducted in the first three schools revealed a 15% increase in the number of students actively participating in school life. Moreover, there was a 19% increase in the number of students who believe that the school consistently or frequently includes students in making important decisions. The programme also led to a 70% increase in the number of students who understand school budgeting to a sufficient or high degree. Furthermore, students came to appreciate the opportunity to influence the school budget – a prerequisite for a more democratic school environment. To date, the programme has reached 2,000 schoolchildren.

STUDENT E-ELECTIONS AT SCHOOLS

Are a tool for fostering digital participation in school life. In Estonia, it is commonly assumed that young people possess highly developed digital competencies, essential for active citizenship in the information society and participation in democratic processes. However, social scientists and educators have noted considerable variation in schoolchildren’s digital competencies. Similar to the e-voting process in the Participatory School Budget programme, the student e-election tool is designed to provide young people with a realistic experience in developing and applying digital competencies, including the use of ID cards and authentication solutions like Smart-ID and Mobile-ID. These skills can be applied in future participation processes at the local and national levels.

ELECTRONIC SIGNATURE SANDBOX

A tool for enhancing digital competences and participation in the e-state. In Estonia, where a substantial portion of interactions with the state occur online, having digital competences is crucial.

However, there is only one dedicated platform for practising essential digital skills, including the use of PIN 1/PIN 2 and understanding digital identity. Known as the Electronic Signature Sandbox within the Democracy Workbook, this interactive learning environment allows users to master all the steps involved in digital signing. Additionally, a brief, two-minute video tutorial explains key concepts such as digital identity, PIN 1 and PIN 2, and the nature and utility of electronic signatures, including where to use them securely.

 

ESTONIAN COOPERATION ASSEMBLY ACTION PLAN 2023–2025:

  • Facilitate the institutionalisation of the Participatory Schools Budget Programme across Estonia
  • Pilot a participatory youth budget at the municipal level
  • Promote the extensive adoption of e-elections for student and youth councils in cooperation with partners
  • Improve dialogue and conflict resolution skills among young people, fostering non-violent communication and strengthening democracy