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The Institute for Youth Development KULT launched the #necudaidem campaign at the beginning of this year, to draw the attention of government representatives and competent institutions to challenges faced by youth every day, and the problem posed by youth leaving the country in large numbers.

The campaign isn’t telling youth to stay or go, it is intended to draw attention to the need for strategic action aimed at creating an environment that will make young people of BiH want to stay, instead of leaving, because BiH could give them a chance to contribute and live up to their potential.

The ultimate goal is to encourage the competent authorities to take concrete measures to address the fact that youth are leaving this country.

Youth in this country, according to young people themselves, need security and a chance to build a bright future. They need active policies with long-term measures that will define positive approaches to issues that are relevant and most important to youth. They need measures that will define a better educational system, access to the labor market, housing policy, security.

What does this mean in practical terms?

A strategic approach means that active employment measures will not be defined annually. That young people in this country will know that the state will support them in becoming homeowners next year, instead of such decisions being made depending on who’s currently in power and how much they care about youth. That education will have a practical use and that they won’t be afraid to report corruption.

That’s when BiH will be a place where young people want to live and contribute to society.

Today is August 12, International Youth Day, celebrated around the world. While other countries dedicate it to transforming education and new technologies, in BiH it is celebrated in the midst of a mass exodus of youth, unemployment, and lack of access to basic human rights.

This year, like the years before it, BiH celebrates this day burdened by unimplemented laws and lack of strategic documents, while counting young people who are leaving along and the myriad reasons why. In the meantime, no concrete solutions are being offered.

BiH does not have a state-level youth law, and entities are not implementing their Youth Laws entirely. There is no strategic document for youth issues at the state level, either. FBiH also doesn’t have a strategy, and Brčko District is planning to start working on theirs this year. Republika Srpska has been adopting strategies for years, but the question remains - how well are they implemented?

So, does BiH want young people to stay?

Document drafting processes are being announced, themed sessions are being scheduled, issues are being discussed locally, but where are the solutions?

How long should young people wait for some action that will finally make them want to say #necudaidem.

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Some of the best and brightest youth are also the ones with the most optimistic and fearless views on the future of BiH. I got a chance to have a sit-down and hold an informal interview with a group of young people from the latest generation of the Learn, Think and Act! training implemented by the Institute for Youth Development KULT. This provided me with firsthand accounts of the economic and political situation youth are in today.

Once we sat down and got to talking, it became clear that unemployment is a major concern, not just for my interviewees, but to all youth in the country. The 33% unemployment rate is unlikely to improve the current situation. All these successful youth leaders agree that the situation is difficult, but none of them said that it’s impossible to succeed. Many pointed out the lack of initiative they notice in young people, and the sense of learned helplessness that makes them out to be the main contributors to the stigma of negative economic prospects in BiH. One young leader expressed this perfectly: “We look at other countries and think they have it better, all while sitting on our hands and complaining about not liking it here.”

When I asked what could be done about it, and what they’re planning to do, the mood shifted to hope and optimism. There’s an ever-increasing number of organizations such as the Institute for Youth Development KULT whose mission is to offer the youth of this country a springboard to success and opportunities to access whatever resources they need to succeed. Non-governmental organizations provide young people with opportunities and trainings on entrepreneurship in a system that is very slow to adapt to new trends in employment, launching businesses, etc. Many of the people I talked to are not happy wih the political system, because they think that decision makers, i.e. politicians, need to take responsibility for supporting young people. It’s very important for youth in BiH to have chances and opportunities for building a better future together.

For the end of my interview, I wanted to see if these kinds of educational programs really do have a positive impact on participants. The responses I got were praise and flashes of hope. They ranged from meeting new people and learning new skills and how to work with different groups, to working on self-awareness. Here, young leaders learn skills they can use in their everyday lives.

The Learn, Think and Act! training program conducted by the Institute for Youth Development KULT had a huge impact on these young people who come from various parts of the country.

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Bosnia and Herzegovina shoyld give young people a chance to bring change, said Peter Duffy, Mission Director of USAID/BiH during his visit to the Institute for Youth Development KULT.

Mr. Duffy took part in Coffee Time With… an event regularly organized by the Institute to allow youth to meet and talk to prominent individuals from different fields. He talked to the young participants about various topics of interest to youth.

The event was attended by young people from across BiH, and their questions centered around education, employment, the current situation in the country, and examples of good practice in BiH that Mr. Duffy shared with the young participants.

The participants were successful young people, who took part in some of the trainings organized by the Institute.

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One of the main goals of the Institute is to provide youth with opportunities to engage in informal education. Many youth who took part in such activities are not active members of the society, which speaks to the success of our efforts.

The Institute has implemented a series of activities in cooperation with the USAID, that focused on youth and marginalized groups.

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