ACTIVITY
ACTIVITY :: Citizenship education :: Youth Parliament

 

 

 YOUTH PARLIAMENT 

 

The activities of the Youth Parliament target comprehensive school students aged 15 to 16. The aim of it is to inspire young people to get involved in making a positive difference to things that are important to their generation. 


The Youth Parliament is organised by the Parliament of Finland in cooperation with the Development Centre Opinkirjo. To support school club activities, a range of events are staged on various topics, information and documentation made available to instructors and a plenary session of the Youth Parliament held every two years. 
Youth Parliament activities are organised as part of school club and student council activities or in connection with optional studies. The clubs have worked in close cooperation with Youth Councils in an effort to influence the immediate community. An important part of this activity is contacting regional MPs and members of the local government councils. 


Youth Parliament activities were launched in 1998. The next session of the Youth Parliament will be in 2018.


THE YOUTH PARLIAMENT 2016

The activities of the Finnish Youth Parliament are intended for students in upper level of comprehensive school. The goal of these activities is to encourage students to get involved and have their say on matters that are important to young people. The activities began in 1998.

The goals of the Youth Parliament are:

  • To support the participation and engagement of children and adolescents.
  • To encourage children and young people to take an interest in citizenship activities, and the Parliament in particular.
  • To develop the processes in order to improve young people’s opportunities to be heard and make a difference.

The Youth Parliament is organised as a cooperative effort of the Parliament of Finland and Development Centre Opinkirjo. The most important forms of activity include the parliament clubs for students in 8th and 9th form, club events, and other events under topical themes relevant to society. The activities reach their climax in the annual plenary session of the Youth Parliament, organised in the form of an oral Question Time session. A total of 300 young people and 100 club leaders take part in the plenary session day.

At most schools, the Youth Parliament activities are the responsibility of the teacher of History and Citizenship Education. The activities usually take the form of a Parliamentary Club or as a part of the student union activities. The Youth Parliament work can also be incorporated into the curriculum. Optional courses and youth council activities are all used as the setting for Youth Parliament activities at schools and in municipalities.

The Youth Parliament is inspiring for teachers and students alike!

Club event on 28 January 2015

The Parliament and the Development Centre Opinkirjo organised a club event on the topic of ‘The web and Freedom of Speech’ in cooperation with the Päivälehti Museum. The event is part of the seminar “Eläköön tasavalta” that celebrates the 150th anniversary of former President K.J. Ståhlberg. The focus point with young people was the meaning of freedom of speech in the world of electronic communication.

Assignment package for student journalists

The purpose of the publication is to offer tools for the Parliament Clubs’ student journalists.

Social media

The online home base of the Youth Parliament, the website Nuorteneduskunta.fi was redesigned. There is a blog used by the Youth Parliament at the address (nuortenparlamentti.blogspot.fi) and a Facebook page (fi-fi.facebook.com/pages/Nuorten-parlamentti). Tweets were requested using the hashtag #nuortenparlamentti.

Session day of the Youth Parliament 15 April 2016

Due to the renovation project of the Parliament House, the plenary session of the Youth Parliament took place in the temporary facilities used by the Parliament, in the chamber at the Sibelius Academy. 199 student representatives from 109 Parliamentary Clubs attended the session, along- side 101 student journalists and 109 club leaders, from different parts of Finland.

Instead of committee work, a topical discussion on the theme ‘Youth Well-Being - Factors and Current Situation’ was organised for the student representatives in the chamber.

The student journalists convened in the Pikkuparlamentti building for the Politics nonstop event, where questions on topical issues were present- ed to the young MPs. The Parliamentary Clubs had also scheduled meetings with MPs and ministers.

An event of their own was organised for club leaders, where the theme of refugees and immigration was discussed.

The plenary session was chaired by the Speaker of Parliament, Maria Lohela. Ten ministers from the Government of Finland were present and answered questions from the student representatives. Of all the submitted questions, 38 had been picked for the plenum session agenda, and there was time to address 29 of these. This time, there were two votes, one of which was about banning the sale of tobacco products and one on the timing of school summer holidays. The tobacco sales ban gained 127 votes in favour and 61 against. The young people were also ready for a radical move of the summer holidays. The vote was in favour of moving the start of the summer holiday to one week before Midsummer and the end to the beginning of September, with a voting result of 110 to 73. These results were also noted in the media.

Young people had the chance to have their say on the selection of the theme of the topical discussion and the questions on the plenary session agenda. About half of the questions were picked for the agenda based on a vote; the other half were selected at the Parliament. The following criteria are considered when putting the agenda together: regions (questions from each electoral district in proportion to the attending clubs), the sectors of the ministers represented, sex and language of the students presenting the questions.

The members of parliamentary clubs submitted a total of 159 questions for the plenary session.

The topics of the questions were divided between the ministers as follows:

Prime minister 10

Minister for Foreign Affairs 7

 Minister of Finance 12

Minister of the Interior 18

Minister of Economic Affairs 5

Minister of Social Affairs and Health 5

Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services 4

Minister of Transport and Communications 8

Minister for Foreign Trade and Development 1

Minister of Justice and Employment 21

Minister of Defence 2

Minister of Education and Culture 57

Minister of Agriculture and Environment 9

 

The plenary session was followed by a reception by the Speaker of Parliament for attendees of the Youth Parliament and invited guests. The reception gave the young people the opportunity for active discussion with the ministers and Members of Parliament present.

What do these activities seem like through the eyes of the teachers and students?

Electronic feedback was collected on the Youth Parliament activities. According to the feedback, the day of the plenary session was a great experience for everyone involved. It was requested that the respondents describe how attending has possibly influenced their teacher’s tasks or what do the young people feel they have learnt through participation in the Youth Parliament.

The teachers often stated that having someone from their class attend the Youth Parliament also promotes other students’ interest in politics and the activities are a great way to activate young people. Student representatives have been role models for other students on how to make a difference. It has been possible to use the activities of the Youth Parliament to increase students’ motivation and to get them interested in following politics. Furthermore, the students who have attended the Youth Parliament have come in as experts when the topic of the Parliament has been discussed in class.

The young people described how they have learnt a lot about the tasks of the Members of Parliament, the Parliament and how it works, and they have learnt to value different opinions. The responses also reflected the participants’ better understanding of politics, party activities, party views and their representatives, and how the Parliament works.

The young people also described how interested their friends and families had been when they talked about their experience. One of the attendees suggested that a possible change could be that they could now get their family and other people close to them to understand politics better.