Historically, young people have faced social exclusion, and the recent economic downturn has prompted high unemployment, which particularly affects the younger generation. However, some disadvantaged groups of young people face exclusion in the longer term for reasons beyond the current crisis. Remaining outside the global labor market has far-reaching consequences – not solely economic. These include a loss of confidence, an undermining of trust and expectations, and an increasing risk of social exclusion and disengagement from society.
Apart from the economic crisis there are other issues and dangers that affect youth generation and lead to political crisis. Global threats such as terroristic attacks and armed conflicts caused a huge refugee and migration wave in Europe. These and many other factors stipulate increasing of intolerance, xenophobia, violence, conflicts oriented by cultural fears, numerous stereotypes and prejudices, intercultural misunderstanding, inability to think critically and lack of intercultural competence in general. Young people are more than others affected by those issues, especially being in a situation of current economic crisis. They feel afraid, they are frustrated, they don’t know what to feel and how to react, as a result they became either inactive or join the extremist movements, and they definitely need to be supported in this hard situation by adults, by peers, by educational institution, by NGOs and by policy makers.
Tackling youth unemployment, social exclusion, intercultural communication and youth participation continues to be a policy priority for European and national governments, but the need to empower young people are increasingly recognized in this process. We see youth empowerment as an attitudinal, structural, and cultural process whereby young people gain the ability, authority, and agency to make decisions and implement change in their own lives and the lives of other people, including youth and adults. In other words empowered young people will exercising power over one’s life by being skilled, critically aware, and active in creating community change.
The long-term training course “inFormal – integration of non-formal education approach to the formal education system for youth empowerment at local level” is an attempt to use non-formal education as a tool for youth empowerment in order to address all the mentioned issues and to build a stable and productive co-working platform for educators coming from formal education and youth field(NGOs and other youth authorities).
LONG-TERM TRAINING COURSE OBJECTIVES:
- To unite efforts of youth workers coming from formal and other youth field backgrounds for youth empowerment at local level by using non-formal education
- To build a necessary set of competences for proficient use of non-formal education instruments and tools for youth empowerment at local level
- To introduce the values, principles of non-formal educations
- To discuss the recognition of competences gained by non-formal education
- To provide the possibility to plan, experiment and to get feedback to the non-formal education activities
- To discuss and introduces the ways of integration of non-formal education activities to the system of formal education
- To provide the opportunity to assess the quality of non-formal education activities and youth empowerment process at local level
- To build a network and to create joined actions in order to address current challenges
As a general outcome, we expect our participants to improve their competences in non-formal education and in the topic of youth empowerment as well as other competences linked to their professional profile; to broader understanding of non-formal education as the most effective tool for youth empowerment, to better understand the interconnections between formal and non-formal education, training and labor market respectively and to improve quality of their work at local, national and international levels.
Learner-centered and practice-based approach
In a large scale, we (the training team) will adopt an experiential learning approach to designing and delivering the programme to achieve the desired outcomes. Volunteers will be engaged in the Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle of ‘doing’, ‘reflecting’, ‘concluding’ and ‘applying’ to ensure that they can effectively relate their learning to real work situations. Reinforce the vision, mission and values in an engaging way as well as anchoring the learning.
Transparency and authenticity approach
This means that what the trainers do should also serve as an example and as role models to participants. It also means that the trainers constantly explain on a meta-level why they propose the specific activities and invite the participants to reflect on the implications of the modules/sessions/activities.
Challenge and safety approach
It means that participants are challenged in order to reach a high learning impact, they are not left in the dullness of their comfort zone. At the same time, this is, of course, done on voluntary basis only and in a total safe and supportive environment.
Voluntary and participative approach
This means that nobody is forced to participate in the activities, the group processes should be based on consensus, ownership and motivation. The starting point of the activities is not the specific content but the specific needs and resources of learners = participants. And finally it means that high involvement and participation from the participants to attain the learning points.
Holistic (hand, heart, head, health)
This means that all areas of existence and being of the participants are touched in order to take account of the different learning styles, and the holistic nature of human beings. This of course demands a high variation in the use of a wide range of methods.
Diversity as a positive resource
This means that the training course is implemented in a way that diversity and differences are appreciated and embraced as a source of mutual inspiration and learning, rather than as obstacle.
Professional and personal development
Similar to the holistic approach outlined above, this means that the development of the participants during this training course is not only limited to their professional world, but also reaches out to their personal life and possibly even to their personality, behaviour, attitudes and values.
By this, we recognise the value of the group learning process, where each participant can act as a source for learning and reflection for the other participants. To achieve this we will create comfortable learning environment supporting personal and group learning processes. Besides that, we will provide coaching sessions for the working groups that will ensure qualitative and sustainable outcomes.
Accessibility and inclusion approach
It means that the training methods should be appropriate not only for the learning needs of but also should be inclusive for everyone. Planning the activity trainers should always take into account participants’ background (cultural, social etc., including special needs) and should assure necessary support if needed.
From general to particular approach
We will bring participants from general (practices level) to more personal (self-expression). We will support personal and professional development of each participant by creating an individual and personal learning plan, through couching sessions and peer-to-peer support.
It means that trainers trust the group, and the group trust the trainers. Trainers sees the group as a pool of experts possessing valuable experience, competences and backgrounds.
GENERAL CONSIDERATION ON METHODOLOGY:
There are several considerations behind the methodology and activities that are planned for this training course. The first consideration is the typical group dynamics process that is found at such kind of international activities of this duration and intensity, which means that first a lot of emphasis should be put on the creation of a safe and friendly environment, providing the space and time for people to get-to-know each other personally and professionally in order for them to enter the intensive group learning process.
The second consideration is that we structure the training programme in a way that we make participants understand the logical steps based on the learner–centered approach and experiential learning cycle theory, all the methods we used are experience-based, it means that participants will pass through interactive real-life learning experience, and will be involved in the debriefing process afterwards that will help to reflect, to conceptualize and to develop competences.
The third consideration behind the methodology is active involvement of participants and recognition of their expertise and experience in certain topics, active sharing and participation in the discussions will ensure diversity and complexity of learning process.
Another consideration, is the permanent learning process awareness, trainers will organize daily reflection space /groups where participants will share the most striking learning moments of the days, ask questions, write down the important information, name, tools, techniques, links to resources, will give and receive feedback. We would also introduce learning diaries with a set of guiding questions for individual reflection and setting the learning objectives, it will help to create sense of ownership and responsibility for personal and group learning process.
One more consideration is about mixing the group as much as possible, to let participants work all the time in different teams in order to show them how challenging and at the same time encouraging diversity in a learning process can be, and how much it contributes to the personal growth and professional development.
Focus of the day is another consideration behind the programme, we will suggest participants to experiment during the training course right on the spot by focusing at different aspects (1 focus for 1 day) such as active listening, observation, feelings analyses, positive/critical thinking, time-management etc.
Another consideration, is to give part of responsibilities for the training to participants, such as for example: to organize evening activities, to discover what is where and to introduce it to the group, time-keeping, reflection-song maker, “leave the room as it was”, and many others.
As for the methods, all of them will be non-formal, no-frontal (presentations should be done in the most participative and interactive way) and highly participative fitting different learning styles and preferences.