Slovakia

Not very much interested in general politics because they do not see any strong personality and they are tired of endless listening to promises. They lack motivation for learning languages because of the economic situation. In spite of all this, they are very hard-working and willing to do a lot when they see the aim and the voice of youth at the end.

Young people in Slovakia face similar problems as young people in our region. They struggle with the issues of university studies, studies abroad, travelling for work, etc. They must face also some stereotypes and prejudices from the previous regime, etc.

Due to the fact that Slovakia is in the process of transformation from a relatively homogenous and closed entity (as all former communist countries) to a multicultural society, its young people are currently facing many challenges and problems. Some of the key issues related to everyday existence of young people in Slovakia are reflected in the highest figures of Slovak citizens endangered by poverty among the EU member states, very high youth unemployment rates and the occurrence of discrimination in many areas of social life. Young people in Slovakia are also struggling to have access to participation in all levels of decision-making processes and thus their needs often remain unreflected in national policies and programmes. Society in Slovakia is also struggling with issues like xenophobia, racism and exclusion from opportunities based on ethnic background (targeting especially the Roma minority youth and immigrants). We are in great need of intervention in the area of integration of socially and physically disadvantaged young people, but also in the area of access to information and participation on decision-making processes. I believe that the proactive creation of opportunities for communication, promotion of active citizenship, intercultural learning and active creation of opportunities for youth employment are the answer to many of these problems, and I am hoping to learn more about how to integrate these into concrete projects with the ultimate aim to utilise opportunities, provided by the Euro-Med Youth Programme and other tools, to target these issues in my country and broaden the communication about these issues with other countries that are facing them today.

The total number of inhabitants in Slovakia is 5,378,951 and it includes a number (1,103,054) of young people, aged between 15 and 26. There is free access to the educational system. A young person can choose from three general types of schools in Slovakia: state-owned schools, private schools and church schools. Education provided by universities is not paid. Slovak youngsters are very flexible and the knowledge of foreign languages is quite high. More then 40% of young people are considering leaving to foreign countries because of better work possibilities. This willingness to move out of the Slovak Republic is closely related to the attitudes about the integration of Slovakia into the EU. They perceive themselves more as European citizens so much so that the borders bare them no limitations. Leisure time is an important part of life of every human being. Slovakia is a typical countryside country and almost half of the children and youth population lives in areas without a possibility to join organised free time activities. 10 young Slovaks out of 100 state that they have a lot of free time and do not know how to use it. 40% of young people do not have enough free time and 2.6% think that they have no free time at all. Civil associations of children and youth as well as children and youth organisations became an important tool in the youth policy during the last 10 years. These organisations play a role also in non-formal education of young people and make conditions for the realisation of leisure time activities of youth. According to possibilities, the Slovak Republic financially supports the work of these civil associations and the projects elaborated by them.

Every single person has a subjective perspective on his/her own life. To rate the present time from my personal view does not reflect the situation of the whole society. My life is influenced by my personal achievements, to which I match my degree (that I finished my studies), my first work, and my relationships with my family and friends too. I am young. I feel that the world has opened the door in front of me and whatever I would like to do I can achieve. I just have to try and find what fulfils me. Thinking about my present life, I am happy, content and independent and I enjoy life as it is, because I can walk my own way.

After joining the EU many obstacles have been removed, for example visa liability, flow of information, labour market opening, youth mobility, studying abroad, intercultural experience and many others. With the joining of the EU we got many more opportunities which enhance the development of our country and ourselves. When young people decide for some of the opportunities like travelling, studying or working abroad, they are more valuable citizens after their return back home. These people are more experienced, open-minded, willing to contribute to the development of society, fully prepared to participate in community life. All this brought ample stimulus to realise that we are responsible not only for ourselves but for the others as well.

The situation of young people in Slovakia in general is seen as very good and easy. The older generation thinks that our lives are much easier then their lives when they were young. They did not get so much freedom, so many choices and opportunities to decide about their own lives. Well, I would not see it as easy. I agree that it is good to have open ways to everything, but it is connected with a harder process of making the right choice. There is much more pressure on us. We have to be more forceful, clever and we have to have the top show all the time to prove that we are the best. Moreover, this bigger competition brought more stress, uncertainty and insecurity into our lives. Everyone has to take care of oneself, even if the state’s support is minimal.

I am happy that I live in Slovakia. We have our little country full of greenery, good-hearted people and good family basis. We still keep our traditions and we are proud of them. I think it is good that we are so small because I do not feel the threat of terrorism at home, I mean in Slovakia. I have friends all over Europe and most of them have to cope with this threat almost daily. They hear it in the news on TV or read about it in the daily newspapers. I think it is partly just a political game to bring people under control. That is why I consider my situation maybe a little better. My life is about joy and not about fear.

In my opinion, there are too many young people without a job or even opportunities for a job. In spite of the older people who have these opportunities. This is the reason why my friends want to go abroad. Jobs in Italy, Germany, and Ireland are much more paid. I am finishing high school and I am going to find a job. But the offers of jobs are up to age 30, university, minimum 5 years work experience and so on. Impossible! Therefore I have no reason to stay in my country where I have no future. If a man who is young wants to do something big and new, there is no way to make it. No acquaintance ‘“ no opportunity. On the other side, children can learn languages even in kindergartens. There are after school centres and clubs where young people can go. Around them there is a splendid wide variety, clothes with brands, but with no finance. There is a wide range of offers to do voluntary jobs, but they do not give you money. That is why they are looking for part-time jobs as waiters in restaurants, pubs and night clubs. I think this is not a good way to earn some money. Sometimes this is the only base. But if we sum up all the pros and cons, growing up in Slovakia is not so bad. We have a home, education and varied leisure activities for our youth.

The Situation of young people in Slovakia is both bad and good. After we finish school we think that we are able to prepare for a new life. But it is a big mistake. In the Slovak Republic there are not a lot of work possibilities. So we are unemployed and pessimistic because our social situation is very bad, and we have to go abroad in order to find a job, where we are often working in black labour. Accommodation: we usually live in flats together with our parents. They push us to be independent, but there is no possibility to be so. Why? A normal flat costs nearly 1 million Slovak krowns and the salary in Slovakia is 15,000 Sk. Young people can buy their own flat after 15 years of leaving school. Of course the banks can lend us money for it, but if we are unemployed or we have a low salary they do not cooperate with us. How can we establish our own families if we are busy coping with our complicated life? That is reality. I do not believe that the situation of young people is the same in all Europe, but I believe that it will change sometime. As my mind will.

I am 23 years old. I live on the East of Slovakia in the small town of Humenné. I will finish my studies at university this year. The situation in the East of our country is not very good for young people, mainly because of job opportunities. Through my studies I tried looking for a job but it was so hard for me. I found only a brigade and it is not sufficient for young men who need money. I hope the situation will be better after the entrance of our country into the EU. I think moving people will be better. Those who want can travel to EU countries without any problem. People can work in foreign countries such as in Great Britain and Sweden because other countries have prohibited work for people from new countries which entered the EU last year. In general I think that the situation on the West of our country is better. There are many possibilities of finding a job and for self-realisation, for example, in the capital city Bratislava.

Bratislava has about 440,000 inhabitants. It is the biggest city and also the capital of the Slovak Republic. This city offers the largest amount of possibilities if we are talking about cultural life, studying opportunities or searching for a job. This is one of the biggest reasons that a lot of students decide to start their university-life just at this place. A young man has to face new challenges when he decides to leave his own home with parental support and starts to live on his own. It may bring a lot of unexpected problems. If you make this decision you have to be sure that you are able to manage the new financial situation. Bratislava is the most expensive city of Slovakia, and as the capital it keeps a higher standard of living than other cities. You have to cope with costs for board and lodging (in general students are living in dormitory), with costs for public transport, and of course for nightlife. It looks like a pretty tough thing, but on the other hand Bratislava is the place with great job possibilities. Even when you are a student you can work and in this way you can slightly improve your living conditions and survive. And by the way, Bratislava is beautiful and you can feel the historical spirit hidden inside. So if you have a possibility to visit our capital, do not hesitate and just come!

Living youth in Slovakia and their ability of self-realisation. In Slovakia one can make a lot of decisions, but I think it solemnly depends on the attitude a person beholds towards the particular decision which often concerns a humanitarian offer. All they think about is their financial situation, and only information interests them. As with regards to the Junior Humanitarian involvement, the chamber in the EU abets a lot of decision-making within the programme YOUTH framework. This is only one side of it, as besides I work with a European voluntary service. A lot of young men have to endeavour, having finished school, to root themselves abroad because of the lack of work opportunities in Slovakia. This depends also on the values of young people. For instance youths of the village do not have a clue about self-realisation whereas youths of the city have. As I think about how I struggled to improve my self-actualisation, I realise that nothing much changed.