About Non Formal Education
Non-formal education can be related to the concepts of recurrent and lifelong learning, only it is more about acknowledging the importance of education, learning and training which takes place outside recognized educational institutions. There are four characteristics that some scholars suggest define non-formal education: relevance to the needs of disadvantaged groups, concern with specific categories of person, a focus on clearly defined purposes and flexibility in organization and methods. Non-formal education is beneficial in a number of ways. Young people are encouraged to choose the programme and project that offers them new experience and freedom to explore their interests. Non-formal education is not limited only to the youth, but it gives opportunities to people of all age – it gives everyone involved a chance to develop several skills that cannot be reached only through formal educational system. Non-formal education involves learning activities that develop various skills and knowledge through practice. This not only helps in building the confidence and abilities among the youth of today, but it also helps in development of personal relationships they encounter in the new globalized world they are growing up in. It gives them a chance to grow and learn and it helps in developing interpersonal skills as they learn to interact with peers outside the class and with adults in the community.
However, non-formal education at the moment is facing many challenges. During our exchange we had the opportunity to exchange ideas and share our experience concerning the problems of non-formal education in general. We realised that the biggest challenge this methodology, this form of learning is facing is the recognition. Because at the moment it is not a well-known and widely used form of education, grown-ups in general have no, or not enough knowledge of it. The challenges of recognition comes from the missing form of certificates (only Erasmus + projects give you a type of certificate called Youth Pass), since non formal education uses many methods and touching many subjects, develop more skills, than giving you professional knowledge, it is really hard to have a type of certificate proving what you learned. Without certificates, in the field of work, when you’re applying to jobs, trying to prove your real skills and knowledge, competences can become really hard.
Another problem we identified is the expenses of providing non-formal education to a wide range of youngsters, ensuring that young people without good financial backgrounds can have the same opportunities as the ones who can afford to pay for it. Non-formal education is usually provided by non-profit organizations meaning that the governments and the European Union have to finance the projects. But these projects not necessarily have an immediate impact, sometimes the results are not even visible, or something physically appearing, thus making the tax-payers think that it is not even useful, since there are no outcomes that can be easily measured and proven. Non-formal education focuses on long-term change of participant’s soft-skills, making them more useful for the society, more creative and innovative. But these things don’t help countries economical or environmental problems on the spot, it takes time to the non-formal education’s participants to grow-up, and gain enough knowledge and necessary circumstances to make change happen.
After realizing these challenges, we thought about creating new ways of non-formal educational projects to be financed, to have improved quality, to make the situation better without losing the truly great opportunities of non-formal education.
Young Europe Programme (YEP)
The new non-formal education program would gradually replace the exciting system, by providing more practical sessions, working in small focus groups, organising seminar type discussions. In focus groups young people will have the opportunity to meet and further discuss the topic they are curious about. With the proposed YEP (Youth Europe Project) project we aim towards more professional approach to train professionals and any individuals interested in active discussion, such as currently “hot topics” which need practical solutions. With the new program we hope to train new open minded, active and culturally aware European citizens. The new YEP program will also be thoroughly monitored and assessed in each step to make sure the program is viable and producing prospective solutions for proposed topics.
In order to somehow reduce the expenses of non-formal educational projects, we suggest to either co-finance the projects by finding donors, supporters and sponsors (like already existing websites where you can show your project and get help from supporters), or you can reduce the finances with solutions like having hosting families or sharing flats instead of using hotels, and cooking with national teams instead of visits to restaurants. But these solutions might cause some difficulties to NGO’s and participants since they are not very convenient.
We strongly believe that there should be a future of non-formal education, and it should be a bright and shining future. Non-formal education is gaining significance and stature aside formal. The funding mechanism will have more contributors and has more recognition on work applications. There is real competition between applicants to enter the program. The trainers also will need to prove his or her qualification to program supervision organization to lead the program. Participants are going to record the knowledge acquired with short review to central program database. That means there is better overview for supervision organisation to improve direction of the course. We think the youngsters need the opportunities and possibilities provided by non-formal education and we are ready to fight for it!
An article by Kristiina Ploom, Romet Tiikmaa, Alexandra Vinczi and Vita Vlašiĉ
Participants to our Youth Exchange Non formal Education 2020 Challenges and Opportunities . The programme is sponsored by Erasmus + Greece /INEDIVIM