The recognition of NFE: how can it be improved?
Photo made by Eglė Gendrėnaitė
In 2011 “Pathways 2.0 towards of non-formal learning/education and of youth work in Europe” – a working paper of partnership between the European Commission and the Council of Europe within the field of youth – was released. The previous paper, which had been released in 2004, served as a basis for important developments concerning the recognition of learning experiences within the youth sectors in the past years (Youthpass, Portfolio, Bridges for Recognition, European Principles for Validation etc.). These two documents strongly influenced the strategic discussions on recognition of non-formal learning and youth work in Europe in the last six to seven years. In the Eastern Partnership Youth Forum the topic was widely discussed as well as recommendations were made how to improve the current situation.
Participants when asked what competences gained through non-formal education were important to employers replied with a wide range of choices. The most often mentioned were creativity, efficient time-management and professional experience as well as ability to work well in a team and persistence. A social worker from Georgia stressed that young people who take part in various youth projects realize their potential better and also gain professional experience by volunteering. However, most respondents noted that recognition of these competences in most countries still have a long way to go.
During the first day of the event Ms. Rita Bergstein from SALTO Training and Cooperation listed some of the better well-known recognition tools in her presentation such as Youthpass, Europass, portfolio for youth worker and youth leader, Nachweise International, Duke of Edinburgh award etc. Later, the participants discussed what was (or wasn’t) working in their countries and how these tools can be improved. Much emphasis was put on Youthpass, since it was the most well-known, and the importance of making youth workers more aware of the benefits of it. Short trainings were offered which proved to be working in Armenia and the change in design “to make it more appetizing”. Also, the idea of making a personal web interface and being able to update one’s Youthpass was met with great enthusiasm.
Moreover, a student from Netherlands offered several other effective methods to improve the recognition tools. He suggested a possible integration to Europass, since it is very popular and well-known, also an opportunity to be able to print a one-page summary of one’s competences for CV, employers etc., and to classify the tools to the aim of recognition. Other participants also mentioned that less-known tools should get more visibility like, for example, in Belarus where non-formal education festivals are taking place for several years now.
After the discussions, Ms. Bergstein expressed her pleasure that most ideas that were expressed during the event are already being realized. However, when asked if they were working on recognition in business sector she emphasized that the main focus is not on the certificate but on the process of non-formal learning. Furthermore, Mr. Peter Matjašič, President of the European Youth Forum, repeats her: “People who take part in youth projects don‘t do it because they want competences. They do it because they believe in the cause and are inspired by it. And if they gain some competences in the process, then that‘s great”.
Gintarė Vasiliūnaitė, young journalist of Eurodesk Lithuania and EU programme “Youth in Action”