In the framework of the project “Youth Ambassadors of Non-formal Learning”, Center for intercultural dialogue along with LDA Mostar and nine other partners from program countries and WB countries conducted the first part of the research on existing policies on recognition and validation of non-formal learning and collecting of relevant European data. The research consisted of three parts: a questionnaire intended for young people aged 15 – 30, two focus groups and three interviews with relevant stakeholders who are representatives of local/regional/national authorities or representatives of the civil sector.
The research gave amazing results, and the responses will be used to make a dedicated publication. In the meantime, here is a chance for you to read some important parts (a sneak preview if you will) of our national research:
- Focus groups
The main aim of the focus groups was to get information about the needs of young people, their knowledge about existing policies of NFE, to collect information about youth known and used programs and platforms for youth mobility, and to identify main challenges. Center for intercultural dialogue organized two focus groups: one over Zoom platform and one in-person. Most of the participants were familiar with non-formal education programs and had a chance to be a part of some activities.
One of the questions of the first focus group was “How focus group participants define NFE?” And here are the answers:
– way of learning
– education outside school
– no need for a school system
– lifelong education
– freedom of speech
– more attractive
– youth mobility
You can read the full text here.
Facilitators of the second focus group asked the participants do they think that more support from the Government is needed to improve the status of young people and in the NFE sphere?
The participants unanimously agreed that the Government should make a great contribution to the development of youth and non-formal education. The government should provide conditions for young people to be able to organize informal activities in the form of financial assistance, space where activities will be held, necessary materials, and assistance in human resources.
You can read the full text here.
- Interviews with relevant stakeholders
The main aim of the interviews was to collect information about the current situation of policies, youth mobility, non-formal learning and also the interviewees’ role in it. Center for intercultural dialogue conducted three interviews, all of them over Zoom platform. Below you can read some of the responses we got from our guests:
- Aleksandra Tasic, member of the Local Council of Kumanovo, executive director of non-governmental organization Bujrum – Center for Rural Development
Do you work on promoting NFE and how?
– All the skills I have gained from non-formal education have helped me a lot in these decision-making processes that I am part of. The competences I gained from non-formal education are very important: from the way I communicate, the way I present myself and the way I look at things, because I have learned how to look at a problem from all angles. I do not focus on an aspect that suits only the institution, but I put myself in the position of the person for whom that decision is made. It is very important because I can contribute with different views and different opinions from my previous experience. I do not act politically on some orders, but I use all the knowledge I have from non-formal education and share it in the Local Council. The promotion is very important. Fortunately in the Council of which I am a part of, there are many people such as the President of the Council and many others who have extensive experience in the non-governmental sector with non-formal education. We take advantage of every opportunity that come out of non-formal education and try to send as many councillors who have not had the opportunity to be part of non-formal education activities to seminars, trainings and different events. In the Council we worked on a project that we wrote, applied for and received the grant for renovation of the councilors’ hall. My opinion is that a large number of councilors who have no experience in non-formal education like that way of working, the way of learning so I manage to promote it. My very appearance in the Council shows the importance of non-formal education. All the views and opinions I have on certain issues that I have talked about in the Council are reasoned and real, they are not just empty words and attacks but real needs for improvement.
Read the full interview here.
- Bojan Petrovski, President of National Youth Council of Macedonia, member of the Local Council of Municipality of Djorce Petrov
For your institution/CSO how young people recognize NFE?
– It is interesting that non-formal education is a very broad term and we cannot give it a definition. This is very good because we can incorporate it into every part of society and from everyday life. I had a very good friend who said to me “Bojan, even the street, neighborhood socializing is informal education”. We have had informal street education since we were children, unknown and undefined, developing the team spirit. In kindergarten we learn how we should all work together as friends, as a group, to get the reward faster – to be let out into the yard 1 hour earlier so we can play outside. Even then you realize that you need to work with each other – for the development of the group, and if the group develops faster it will receive the next reward. The definition comes with the very growth and development of person. When I was 10 I understood it in one way, when I was 20 in another way, now when I am close to 30 I understand it completely in a third way. In the student days you understand it as a practice – you need teaching, improvement, but you understand it as if it is not part of the everyday educational system. In our country it is very sad that even though it should properly be part of the daily student learning, they perceive it as something they can only find outside of universities. I can not specify the answer because it is very diverse and everyone understands it differently and it is very personal. I do not want to define it by definition because it covers different segments of the whole life and that is the moment of lifelong learning. But at the moment in our country we experience it as something we cannot find in institutions, universities and schools and that is the problem.
Read the full interview here.
- Dragan Atanasov, Secretary General of Union for Youth Work
What are you doing about NFE in term to make closeness with youth?
– I am trying to start processes through the Union for Youth Work that will lead to greater use of the methodology of non-formal education and more non-formal education programs that will be implemented in a more systematic way. One of the things that the Union for Youth Work is trying to achieve is for North Macedonia to succeed in establishing standardization of the quality of youth work. An example of what this would mean in practice is the following: a process has been started (which is currently paused due to the situation with COVID-19) for opening of new youth centres in North Macedonia and recognition of the existing ones. As part of this process we are working on standardizing their programs, not in terms of the type of activities that would be implemented in those youth centres – this is based on the needs of young people, but standardization in terms of conditions to be achieved, competencies of the people who will work with young people etc. The document we have proposed is called Quality Standards for Youth Centres. I assume that these youth centres will mainly use the methodology of non-formal education, but what we are trying to do is to achieve standardization in their quality – this is a process that will take longer. For example, the same principles and the same criteria of work to be used in MultiКулти in Kumanovo and the new youth center that will be opened in Bitola. We are trying to promote the same through education of youth workers. So yes, we are working on the promotion of non-formal learning but I would say more on the quality of non-formal learning and its standardization. I think that non-formal learning is widely used in our country, but sometimes with dubious quality . And organizations are not to blame for that, sicne the overall situation is problematic – unstable organizations, unstable funding, insufficient staff, insufficient opportunities for education, programming, evaluation of programs, etc. We now know that we can change that. Lately, we have been trying to use digital approaches in non-formal education in order to strengthen the work with young people. One specific project that we are currently working on and is funded by RYCO is for the development of a board game, ie a card game for non-formal learning in the field of intercultural learning with young people. This is an example of how we directly promote non-formal learning through activities.
Read the full interview here.
Stay tuned for the second part of our research. We will be collecting inspiring stories of young people that, thanks to Non-Formal Learning, built a personal or professional path, identifying their way to arrive there and how did they manage to make it important for their future. If you have such a story and want to share it, feel free to send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.