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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.

Konferencija Grupa9

The main reasons why youth are leaving BiH are the economic and political instability, lack of faith in state institutions, unequal access to rights and institutional corruption. These were the conclusions from the three-day conference “Youth-Driven Policy Solutions to Emigration”.

The conference included political leaders from BiH, Republic of North Macedonia, Romania and Serbia, and was organized by the National Democratic Institute in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in partnership with a multi-party group of young people (Group 9) formed with the support of the NDI. The Institute of Youth Development KULT was a friend of this conference.

It was decided that social policies for young people, better education and stronger cooperation with the diaspora are crucial for creating a better environment for young people.

During the conference, Group 9 presented their document outlining guidelines for achieving concrete change in the lives of young people, which will soon be sent to government representatives.

The conference was held on June 7-9, 2019 at Swissotel in Sarajevo.

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The conference hosted Mr. Šefik Džaferović - Member of the BiH Presidency, Eric Nelson, U.S. Ambassador to BiH, Vesna Pusić, Member of the Croatian Parliament, and many other politicians from the Western Balkans.

Youth emigration and addressing the problems faced by this segment of the population are among the priorities of the G9 Group, and the conference will be an opportunity to discuss the causes of emigration and offer concrete measures for improving the current situation.

Data about youth leaving and their reasons were presented by representatives of the Institute for Youth Development KULT from Sarajevo, NGO Srbija 21 from Belgrade and Foundation Friedrich Ebert headquartered in Sarajevo. The discussions will include various experts from BiH and the Western Balkans.

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