Youth Policies towards Inequalities in European Countries



Netherlands

The situation of young people in the Netherlands and (innovative) policy answers

2. How do existing policies address these challenges? How to increase capability-friendly policies (in the Netherlands)?

So far, it seems that not much is done about promoting participation (in a wide sense) among disadvantaged youth so that the perspective of all young people is considered seriously in the Netherlands. Yet, there are worthwhile foundations for this. In some schools for instance, children are often encouraged to form and voice their personal opinion, and they are provided with tailor-made information and training so that actual participation can become possible. In a number of policy areas some limitations are acknowledged regarding the low participation of certain sections of Dutch society and, though not much is done to increase citizens’ participation (compensating for lack of participation skills), there is some expertise and experience in the matter, thanks to a long tradition of social professional support granted to ‘disadvantaged groups’ to take part in policy applying to them (notably applied to public housing and urban planning in the 1970s and the 1980s in Dutch cities). This could not be testified as ‘examples of success or good practice’ but rather as assets for policy innovation.

Besides, a few initiatives claim not to follow the main stream of participation talk on participation heard as financial autonomy only, notably some attempts to promote participation among non-spontaneously participating young people in debates regarding youth policy or urban policy at the local level. Alongside, some programmes are (more or less directly) considering and trying to enhance the capability to aspire of disadvantaged young people (e.g. the Weekendschool, meant to question and develop school motivation among disadvantaged young children; talent development projects meant to explore and support the –sometimes largely hidden- talents of disadvantaged youth). Yet, it is not possible to testify that these are ‘examples of success or good practice’ since these initiatives – and their potential to consider the perspective of young people seriously – should still be analysed thoroughly.

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