The time has come for Lithuania to have a society that is based on the norms of critical thinking, rule of law, responsibility, and accountability, all of which are publicly accepted and practically implemented by its citizens and authorities.
The OLF aims to make these changes in cooperation with local communities and by consolidating the efforts of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Other activities of the OLF in 2017 include the implementation of projects in problematic regions, engaging in the analysis of and advocacy for non-governmental sector funding, encouraging the establishment of an NGO foundation, and conducting training programs and visibility campaigns.
NGO Fund (Agency for the Civil Society Development)
The Open Lithuania Foundation gathered a group of NGOs (over 20 organizations) in order to consolidate the efforts advocating the creation of the NGO Fund financed from the State budget. The need for such joint NGO advocacy was bolstered by the inclusion of the NGO Fund establishment in the current Lithuanian Government programme.
Following the focus groups and discussions with the NGOs, government officials, study visits to the similar funds and in collaboration with NGO Council, NGO Fund feasibility study has been published (in Lithuanian) and presented at various meetings with the NGOs and government official promoting the establishment of the NGO Fund as a long-term strategic measure aimed at strengthening the civil society in Lithuania.
The engaged NGOs continue with their advocacy efforts promoting the establishment of the NGO Fund in the meetings with the related Ministries, members of the Parliament, the Offices of the Prime Minister and of the President. In the meeting with the NGOs held on the 18th of April, the Prime Minister S.Skvernelis have expressed his support for the creation of the NGO Fund.
Moreover, the OLF constantly provides feedback to the proposed amendments of legal frameworks affecting the NGOs.
OLF Youth Program
The programme aims to mobilize, strengthen and empower the community of active young people. Its goal is to promote young people’s texts, opinions and worldview in an effort to create a culture of youth activism and civic participation in the country. Young scholars, creators, students or school graduates not only help to identify relevant issues, but also provide unique and innovative approaches or solutions to problems.
Youth Academy (Read Next)
In cooperation with the Borderland Foundation, the OLF Youth Summer Academy was organised in Krasnogruda and Szetejnie, the native places of Czesław Miłosz. Six promising and talented young people from Lithuania participated in the summer camp, which was dedicated to the reading of texts of Leonidas Donskis and Zygmunt Bauman. In the summer academy, young people from Lithuania, Ukraine, Poland and the Czech Republic had the opportunity to discuss with such professors as Timothy Snyder, Marcie Shore, Krzysztof Czyzewsky and Egidijus Aleksandravičius. After the summer camp, Lithuanian representatives prepared analytical texts.
On July 22-28, the Borderland Foundation and the International Dialogue Center again brought together a large number of participants in the summer school, which took place in the former estate of the Miłosz family in Krasnogruda. This year the thought guide was philosopher of the 20th century Leszek Kolakowski. The tutors included Marcie Shore (Yale University, USA), Timothy Snyder (Yale University, USA), Krzysztof Czyzewski (founder of the Borderland Foundation, Poland) and Yaroslav Hrycak (Ukrainian Catholic University). The purpose of the sessions based on dialogue was to revisit the most influential and the most relevant works of the 20th century. The participants this year were academic youth from Ukraine, the Czech Republic, the USA, Poland and 8 young people from Lithuania.
Academic youth community
The “Pre-party” event is an informal meeting and discussion of academic youth held before the OLF main debate session “Rethinking Europe”. Two events of this type were held: one of them focused on European identity, and the other one aimed to discuss Post-Soviet Russia and Eastern Europe. The purpose of these open discussions was to talk over the implications of the forthcoming OLF discussion.
Project for developing youth citizenship “I decide!”, May 2018 – October 2019
This long-term project aims at increasing the involvement of Vilnius County residents, especially young people, in decision-making processes that would further lead to social and political change. The project is based on a model fostering young people’s civic participation, developed by the Amsterdam Institute of Society and Politics. This programme seeks to change the attitude of young people towards participation in public governance: young people are encouraged to become interested in politics and public affairs of their native city; they are not only informed about how to participate in public governance, but also develop their participatory competencies. The model for developing youth citizenship takes place in 6 municipalities of Vilnius county: Širvintos, Šalčininkai, Švenčionys, Ukmerge, Elektrėnai and Trakai.
The Thought Shaker “Scroll your mind” in six cities of Vilnius County involves an interactive game to identify the civic involvement index (Kinect Technology), an online test to assess critical thinking, and discussions with public and youth leaders from the show world (Svaras, Beata Tiškevič, Jazzu, Mantas Stonkus, Viktoras Diawara) on topics relevant to youth.
Participation of young people in the discussion festival “Exactly!” is ensured, where they can discuss country- and region-specific ideas. This is an excellent example of democratic participation in decision-making. There are 6 buses from 6 regions coming to bring 240 people: youth and municipality representatives and employees from youth centres.
The Youth Action Day in city municipalities gives the possibility to create projects and express ideas about what you would like to change in your city. The idea, chosen in cooperation with the municipality, is transformed into a real change in the city.
Improving media literacy skills
A new programme, which enables students and seniors to distinguish fake news and propaganda from truthful information, has been developed together with the Vilnius Institute of Political Analysis (VIPA).
The methodology of lesson plans has been prepared and presented to schools, which will allow teachers to incorporate critical thinking into their curricula.
Steps taken to strengthen the ability of citizens to critically evaluate and use the information provided in traditional and new media will develop their resilience to fake news. The developers of the programme worked with schoolchildren in upper grades studying in five minority schools in south-eastern Lithuania, students of the University of the Third Age, visitors of public libraries, and teachers in formal and non-formal education.
There were two live broadcasts (on February 20, 2018 and March 6, 2018) for the students of the University of the Third Age and visitors of public libraries. They focused on how disinformation functions and what role the media plays in disseminating or disclosing it. VPAI experts Donatas Puslys, Simas Čelutka and Algirdas Davidavičius and cultural policy analyst Skaidra Trilupaityte participated in the live broadcasts. The broadcasts were watched in about 200 Lithuanian libraries.
The Critical Thinking Index Test was prepared and presented at the discussion festival “Exactly!” The test was adapted for young people, uploaded online and presented in the form of a quiz where the users could receive the undergraduate or graduate degrees of a troll or an elf. The test received 10,867 views, and over 7,400 respondents completed the questionnaire.
In addition, fake news is being constantly sought, deconstructed and, along with explanatory information, published on the Facebook account of the OLF partner VIPA at #MelųMaišelis (#APackOfLies). Since the launch of the project, 21 news items have been published, each time reaching from 1,000 to 23,000 Facebook users.
“I decide!”: A Youth Citizenship Programme Begins Another Year
The Open Lithuania Fund (OLF), together with its partners and associates (the public institution “OSFL Projects” and the Association “Civic Initiatives Center”), is implementing a long-term youth education program “I decide!”.
The programme aims to change the attitude of young people towards their participation in public governance. Young people are encouraged to take interest in politics and the affairs of their native city, they are informed about their participation possibilities in public affairs, and their participatory skills are developed. The model of youth citizenship education, tested in Lithuania and abroad, takes place in six municipalities of Vilnius County: Širvintos, Šalčininkai, Švenčionys, Ukmergė, Elektrėnai and Trakai.
Outline of the programme for 2018
May – September 2018. The Thought Shaker “Scroll your mind” in six cities of Vilnius Region: interactive games / discussions of young people with public leaders from the show world and society in general. Create the face of your city as you want! If you have walked an old lady across the street, does this mean that you are a citizen? Is it trendy to be socially active? What are the benefits of your active contribution to the environment?
7 September 2018. About 300 young people from six cities in Vilnius Region take part in the discussion festival “Exactly!”, where ideas important for the country and the region are discussed. It is an excellent example of democratic participation in decision-making! Delve into the discussion forum in Birštonas. Explore the diversity of attitudes and thinking of different groups of the society. On 7 September this year, come along with us and the youth from various towns and be part of a reviving society.
“It’s a place where I found not only a lot of good emotions, new knowledge and new acquaintances, but also a lot of motivation for the whole school year! Viltė, 18 years old.”
“The best time of my life! I met a lot of like-minded people and expanded my horizons. To every student, I suggest going to this festival! Augustina, 16 year old.” “Here you realise that decisions are made not only in clerks’ offices, but in fact, we all can contribute. Let’s create a more beautiful Lithuania together.
October – November 2018. Participation in the “Day of Action” in your city municipality. Possibility to create projects and express ideas about what you would like to change in your city. The idea, selected in cooperation with the municipality, is transformed into a change in the city. Participate, say what you would like to change in your city, and explore with others how you can do it
November 2018 – November 2019. Implementation of the most innovative and most relevant ideas in six cities in Vilnius Region. Implement your own project!!! Together with experts and the team, make your city open for change.
Share with others what you have learnt and achieved. Be a conscious and active citizen. Get started today!
The project “I decide!” is carried out in accordance with Priority 10 “Society-oriented smart public administration” of the Lithuanian Strategy under the Operational Programme for the European Union Funds’ Investments in 2014-2020, Measure No. 10.1.2-ESFA-K-917 “Initiatives stimulating society’s disapproval of corruption and support for citizen engagement in public governance”. The project is funded by the European Social Fund and the State Budget of the Republic of Lithuania. www.esinvestijos.lt