Dominican Republic

Sharing the island of Hispaniola with Haiti in the Caribbean Sea, the Dominican Republic has an estimated population of 9.95 million people with approximately 3.7 million people under 18 years old. The GNI per capita is US$4, 390. [1]

Youth Civic Participation Overview

The Dominican Republic has a number of civil society organizations working Dominican Republicfor poverty reduction and youth development in the country. For example, in 2009, the United Nations Volunteers program (UNV) worked with Alianza ONG and the Sirve Quisqueya Network to support the creation of a law on volunteerism in the Dominican Republic. Alianza ONG is a membership association founded in 1996 to promote participation and investment in social and economic development by supporting collaboration between institutions in both the public and private sectors. Alianza ONG develops projects in social responsibility, volunteerism and institutional strengthening. [2]

In addition, the Sirve Quisqueya Network is a coalition of agencies working to create civic participation opportunities for Dominican youth through the implementation of community teaching projects and youth groups. One example of a group started by the Sirve Quisqueya Network is the Brigada Verde (Green Brigade). Founded in 2004, Brigada Verde seeks to strengthen the Dominican democracy by engaging Dominican youth in activities directed at environmental protection. [3]

Finally, some organizations seek to empower young people with the specific intent that they will go out and further empower their communities. Organizations such as Fundacion Sur Adelante (Forward South Foundation) and the Callejera-Action Educational Foundation work with the youth population living in extreme poverty. They mobilize young people to become change agents in their communities, instilling in them the importance of health and education while also providing them with access to libraries, computers and law services. The intent is to develop young people to be aware of their rights and abilities, so that they can better organize themselves and develop their communities. [4]

Policy Overview

The Dominican Republic has a Ministro de la Juventud (Ministry of Youth) as well as a Ley 49-2000, Ley General de Juventude (General Youth Law of 2000).[5] The law pinpoints Youth Civic Participation as an important part of promoting youth development and well being. Young people in the Dominican Republic are those between the ages of 15 and 35, and the General Youth Law outlines the rights of young people and provides for the creation of, and guidelines for, Municipal, Regional and National Youth Councils to promote youth participation in communities through civic participation activities. The youth councils coordinate with local CSOs to promote youth development, involvement and activities, as well as advocating the government for pro-youth policies. Despite its written support of civic participation, this component of the law does not receive any special funds beyond what is normally allocated to fund youth policy. [6]

The Dominican Republic’s Ministro de la Juventud (Ministry of Youth), created by a law passed in July 2000,[7] targets young people ages 15-35 through its framework of effective coordination and implementation of youth policies and involvement in the decision making process. In December of 1993, a law was passed declaring January 31st of each year, Fiesta de San Juan Bosco Day (Feast of Saint Juan Bosco), as Dia Nacional de la Juventud (National Youth Day). Also created under this law was the National Youth Award, which recognizes the 10 most outstanding young people of the Dominican Republic. [8]

In addition to its Youth Law, the Dominican Republic has a national education-based policy that requires high school students to complete 60 hours of service as a prerequisite of graduation. Students can perform any type of service to complete the requirement, provided the service addresses a community need. Like the service component of the general youth law, the education-based service requirement receives no government funding and teachers do not receive any formal training or support under the policy as their involvement in delivering the program is considered a part of the normal workload. The quality of the service under these policies depends entirely on the school that implements the policy and on the individual students who serve, as programs vary from school to school and students perform the different types of service with varying degrees of motivation. [9]

Rationale/Background

The average unemployment rate in the Dominican Republic is very high, reaching 16% in 2007. [10] Additionally, HIV/AIDS rates in the Dominican Republic are among the highest in Latin America, and young people in the country are regularly challenged not to fall into drug use, violence or criminal activity. [11] It is for these reasons that the many state and non-state actors in the country are concerned with youth development and poverty reduction. Several civil society organizations work to significantly engage young people in their communities and the government supports, at least in policy, greater Youth Civic Participation.

Going Forward

Many civil society organizations are active throughout the Dominican Republic, engaging young Dominicans in civic participation. The Government of the Dominican Republic has made some strides toward better youth civic engagement with its creation of the Ministro de la Juventud and Dia Nacional de la Juventud. However, the Dominican government is not as active in supporting these efforts as it could be. The Dominican government should invest more resources toward Youth Civic Engagement in order to help expand opportunities for young people to positively contribute to their and community development.

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[1] “Dominican Republic,” UNICEF Info by Country, Web, 21 September 2010, http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/domrepublic_statistics.html.
[2] “Alianza ONG Profile,” Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support (WINGS), Web, 30 September 2010, http://www.wingsweb.org/network/profiles_view.cfm?id=12.
[3] Peace Corps – Dominican Republic, Web, 30 September 2010, http://dominican.peacecorps.gov/brigada-verde/index.php.
[4] “Programs and Policies Database: Dominican Republic,” Innovations in Civic Participation, Web, www.icicp.org.
[5] “Ley 49-2000, Ley General de Juventude, Republica Dominicana,” Web, 25 October 2010, http://www.youth-policy.com/Policies/Dominican%20Republic%20Youth%20Law.pdf.
[6] Edward Metz, Ph.D. et al., Policy Scan: An Exploratory Study of National Youth Service Policy in 19 Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Innovations in Civic Participation (ICP), Washington, D.C.: 2006, Web, http://www.icicp.org/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/1677.
[7] “Ley 49-2000, Ley General de Juventude, Republica Dominicana.”
[8] “Ley 20-93 del 5 de diciembre de 1993, que crea el Día Nacional y Premio Nacional de la Juventud,” Ministerio de la Juventud, Web, 30 September 2010, http://www.juventud.gob.do/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=FCZ6qA7%2b7Oc%3d&ta….
[9] Edward Metz, Ph.D. et al.
[10] “Social Indicators: Unemployment,” United Nations Statistics Division, Web, 30 September 2010,
http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/socind/unemployment.htm.
[11] “Youth and Global Aids Pandemic,” Advocates for Youth, Web, 25 October 2010, http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&….