Non-profit organisations engaged in the work with children and youth represent a necessary complement to leisure-based educational facilities. Their unique mission lies especially in that they provide children and young people with a background of strong personal relationships that often last throughout their lives. Many organisations of this type offer not only “a way to spend the leisure time” but a long-term educational forming of the whole child’s or teenager’s personality.
Belonging to a good group gives to many young people not only five, eight or twelve years spent in a happy bunch of friends but also a lifelong orientation based on a solid and well-reflected value foundation as well as a lot of skills and knowledge that help them find their way in the complex world of today. One of the most important piece of experience young people learn in children and youth associations is an understanding that the most valuable things in human life cannot be bought and that “gratis” does not at all mean “worthless”.
There is a plurality of NGOs working with children and young people in the Czech Republic. Their tradition dates back to the 19th century when an active participation in different associations and societies was an important part of the social movement that led to the creation of independent Czechoslovakia.
The work of NGOs is supported by the state to a significant degree. The responsibility lies on the Youth Department of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. The National Grant Programmes for NGOs Supporting Children and Youth Work for 2011-2015 was announced by the MEYS. These programmes lay down content orientation, programme priorities and conditions that have to be fulfilled to be eligible for state subsidies.
These programmes apply to youth NGOs as well as other NGOs systematically working with children and youth, and are open to the target group throughout the year. The priorities of the subsidy programmes are annually reviewed. An integral part of the programmes is an open call for NGOs to enable them to apply for an honorary title “Organisation recognised by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports in the field of children and youth work”.
There are four programmes providing financial support for the youth sector development:
- Ensuring regular activities of NGOs that work with organised children and youth
- Supporting selected forms of work with non-organised children and youth
- Thematic calls
- Supporting activities of youth information centres
NGOs can use these programmes to submit projects concerning the support and development of their own activities as well as other activities destined for the general public. The MEYS will assess these projects and provide financial support to them according to their quality. An open call for an honorary title “Organisation recognised by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports in the field of children and youth work” is announced as part of the programmes. To organisations whose quality the MEYS rates as high is awarded a statute of an organisation recognised by the state.