Today, problems related to the youth are among the most important subjects high on the agenda of Turkey. The State engages in activities with the cooperation of national and international institutions, organizations and universities in order to determine the problems of the youth and to find solutions to these problems within the framework of the economic, social and cultural structure. Significant progress has been made in recent years on the subject of the organization of youth by means of social and cultural foundations, associations and youth organizations.
Public Services Addressing Youngsters.
Services in such fields as education, health, work life, social security, employment, cultural life, utilization of leisure time and protection from harmful habits of youth are provided by different ministries and non-governmental organizations in Turkey. The utilization of the leisure time of the youth is carried out by the General Directorate of Youth and Sports. Besides providing sports services and activities, the General Directorate also provides services to youth, such as youth camps, youth centers, youth clubs and international organizations which it coordinates.
The youth centers attached to the Provincial Directorates of Youth and Sports are cultural institutions that provide the opportunity and prepare the environment for utilizing the leisure time of youth in social, cultural and sports activities. These centers organize activities to increase the knowledge and capabilities of the youth in various fields, such as arts, science, sports, cartooning and handicrafts, and distribute awards to the youth in these fields. Youth centers also provide guidance and consultation services, which assist in the solution of problems experienced by the youth. Conferences, panel discussions, symposia, competitions and other activities are organized by these centers to protect the youth from harmful habits. Positive results have been obtained from the activities undertaken to increase the functions of the youth centers, and to draw more members to these centers. As of the end of 2002, there were 81 youth centers in provincial centers, and 30 youth centers in districts making a total of 111 centers.
“Advisory and Consultation Bureaus” have been established in 57 youth centers to support the youth socially and psychologically. The practice of issuing “Youth Cards” which lend economic support to those who are members of the youth centers, is actively continuing. Because it serves an important function in the utilization of the leisure time of the youth and the spread and continuation of folk dance traditions, a folk dances and folk music contest is held each year. In 2002, this contest took place with the participation of 12,300 youths from 352 mixed teams.
National Youth Camps, which were set up on an international scale in 2002, were active in four separate sessions in 60 provinces, 30 of which functioned on an international level and 30 on a national level. There were 16,000 participants in the national camps and 561 foreign participants from 34 countries in the international camps.
In 2003, 30,000 people were able to go to the youth camps established in 40 provinces; 24,000 in the nationalinternational camps, 3,000 in the regional camps and 3,000 in the 13-17 age group camps in the main camps.
Turkey engages in cooperation in the field of youth services with international organizations such as the CDEJ, DSJ, UNESCO, ECO, and especially the Council of Europe. Young people are encouraged to participate in international organizations and activities organized for youth. Furthermore, an opportunity is provided for cultural and information exchange among youth through the Youth Exchange Programs with foreign countries. Within the framework of these activities, the Youth Exchange Programs that were envisaged in the “Cooperation Protocol on Policies Related to Youth,” which was signed with the Federal Republic of Germany in 1994, are continuing and in 2002, 113 groups and approximately 1000 people joined the program in which 42 activities were undertaken. 17 of these activities were undertaken in Germany and 25 in Turkey.
The establishment of a “National Agency” to provide information to the Turkish youth concerning the activities and organizations of their European counterparts and to enable them to join the educational programs of the European Union, is very important for Turkey, a candidate for European Union membership. Studies to this end have reached their final stages.
The responsibility for the preparation of the “Youth” program, one of EU three programs (“Socrates”, “Leonardo” and “Youth” programs), has been given to the Directorate General of Youth and Sports.