“We are only working in the youth sector and constantly”
Armenia now has an Institute for Youth Studies.
The Institute will be part of the “Youth Events Holding Center” of the RA Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs and its studies in different spheres will help the relevant bodies develop and implement the youth policy. What is the main mission of the institute? How will the institute work with the experts in the youth sector and the youth in the public sector? To find the answers to these questions and more, Eritasard.am’s correspondent sat down for an interview with Director of the Institute for Youth Studies Marina Galstyan. Eritasard.am: Marina, what was the need for creating such an institute? Marina Galstyan: The institute was officially established in 2013. Until then, different experts and organizations had been conducting studies on the youth with different motives and by the order of different organizations, but there came a moment when those experts and organizations realized that there was a need for more in-depth studies. Eritasard.am: Was it because there was no coordination? M. G.: Yes. There have been different organizations that have conducted studies with funding provided by other organizations, including the UN Development Programme. Moreover, the UNDP supports the Institute. Apparently, those developing and implementing the youth policy and the experts realized that there was a need for the establishment of a professional institute that would constantly conduct studies on the youth, be consistent in the implementation of proposals stemming from those studies and would serve as a center where different groups of youth could meet, hold discussions and exchange their experiences. In other words, the objective is to conduct institutional studies. Eritasard.am: The Institute doesn’t have a long history. Does it have a strategy and directions? M. G.: Today the Institute and the UNDP were discussing the Institute’s proposed strategy plan and the series of actions based on that strategy. In addition to that, we are creating bases in several directions, including a database of youth organizations in order for us to have comprehensive information about those organizations and make that information available on our website, which will be ready by June. We will also have a platform for communication where everyone will be represented. Very often there are meetings where we always see the same faces, but the problem is that others simply aren’t aware of those meetings. We have set the objective to identify the people who are not well aware and try to engage them in the processes not only to mobilize them, but to get a whole picture of the field as well. We will also be establishing a network of local and international experts who are interested in the sector. Eritasard.am: How much will the Institute use the previous research? M. G.: We are also creating a database of reports on youth studies that have been conducted in Armenia and abroad in order to have a comparative analysis of those studies, to understand how the issues concerning the youth have been studied in the past and how they are being studied now, as well as the methodology, the model of analysis and to develop our own study on the basis of that model. Our study will include all the advantages and won’t have any flaws that have existed in the previously conducted studies. Eritasard.am: You formed your team just recently. How many of them are employees and how were they selected? M. G.: We have recruited new employees through announcements. Currently, we have a director, an analyst, as well as a programs assistant and field coordinator. We don’t have a PR expert, but we have already posted an announcement. They are all youth. Most of them are sociologists, but we also have a psychologist. In the next couple of days we will be conducting an assessment of the staff’s needs and capabilities, after which the employees will undergo training on the basis of that assessment. Eritasard.am: How will your studies be used in the development of the youth policy? M. G.: We will be presenting concrete proposals to those who are developing the policy and will be following to make sure how many of them are approved and to know the reasons behind their disapproval. Today, Armenia has many research organizations that also study the issues concerning the youth, but our Institute’s objective is to present proposals based on the study. We are only working in the youth sector and constantly. We will serve as the bridge that will transmit the information to those who develop and implement the youth policy and vice versa in order to understand what the flaws are. If not, there may be programs that won’t be based on the youth’s needs. Eritasard.am: Non-governmental organizations will hear about the Institute and might be interested in collaboration. How will the Institute be prepared to work with them? M. G.: We are gathering data about those organizations, but they also have to find us since we don’t have information about all of them. Collaboration with the Institute will help them establish contacts with all organizations in the network, participate in all the debates and be provided with the opportunity to have their voices heard in the development of the youth policy. There will come a point where we will have all the information about youth that exists at that moment. The organizations will be able to have a total picture of the studies and carry out their projects on the basis of those studies. Eritasard.am: What will young individuals get out of collaboration with the Institute? M. G.: We attach great importance to youth participation. We would not like to have groups that will only be important in terms of participation. We would like to find interested people and find the ways to help them and make them help us. One of those ways is volunteerism. Many students graduate from universities, but don’t have jobs. We will provide them with the opportunity to apply their knowledge in practice. It will be through internship, practice or volunteerism. However, we have to work on making them understand why they are doing what they are doing and what they will get out of that. When the volunteers see that they have profit (financially), they will definitely come and will bring other volunteers along as well. The other direction is training. When we identify some educational needs on the basis of our studies, we would like to turn the Institute into a place where the youth will undergo training for professional orientation, career advancement and more. For that we will invite experts who are specialized in certain fields and will help us train the youth. Interview by Tsovinar Karapetyan