5.7 “Learning to participate” through formal, non-formal and informal learning
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The Decree of the 6 December 2011 on the Promotion of Youth Work (Dekret vom 06. Dezember zur Förderung der Jugendarbeit) in the German-Speaking Community regulates the development of young people, provides support for youth work, youth organisations and the Council of the German-speaking Youth (Rat der Deutschsprachigen Jugend, RDJ) as well as for the organisation of education and training for young people and youth workers.
Youth work takes place in out-of-school settings and within the scope of particular leisure time activities. It is based on non-formal education and informal learning processes and achieved through voluntary participation.
To be funded, youth centres (Jugendinfo) have to enable young people to gain self-efficacy experiences and learn shaping skills and support the participation of young people in their establishment. They also have to offer and provide activities that place the needs of the children and young people at the centre of the actions and take into account issues of children and young people in disadvantaged life situations, of children and young people with a migration background and children and young people with a disability.
Focuses of the youth work are:
socio-political and social education to promote interest in socio-political participation, of the ability to form critical judgements of socio-political processes and of the readiness for active involvement in socio-political processes;
cultural youth work to promote creativity and cultural forms of expression;
leisure-oriented youth work as a contribution to holistic development through sport, play and movement;
media work to promote media skills for critical and conscious media use;
intercultural youth work to promote skills and finding one’s identity;
gender-differentiated girls’ and boys’ youth work for the promotion of equality of opportunity and breaking down gender stereotypes;
cross-community and international youth work to promote understanding within Belgium and internationally, peace-keeping and the European identity.
Starting from the voluntary nature of the participation of children and young people, funded youth centres fulfil their tasks within these focuses on their own responsibility and using a variety of methods.
Article 55 of the decree of 31 august 1998 regulating the organisation of formal education in the German-Speaking Community (Dekret vom 31. August 1998 über den Auftrag an die Schulträger und das Schulpersonal sowie über die allgemeinen pädagogischen und organisatorischen Bestimmungen für die Regel- und Förderschulen) states:
The pupils are involved in school life through elected pupil unions. The school principal is obliged to allow for a pupil union from the 2nd level of secondary education on. The pupils' representatives have an information and consultation right. The pedagogical project of each school contains provisions on the form of the participation of pupil unions. These provisions are elaborated together with the pupil's representation in the so called Pedagogical Council and presented to the principal for approval.
In some schools of the German-speaking Community, pupil unions are accompagnied by a trained youth worker from the youth information centres. This allows for a link between formal and non-formal education.
As defined in the Decree of 6 December 2011, youth work takes place out of school and during particular leisure activities and is based on the processes of non-formal and informal learning and voluntary participation.
This form of participation refers to offers that take place in open youth work or youth organisations. Greater say, participation and co-determination are part of the activities in youth organisations or youth centers. Young people get to experience teamwork and improve their social behaviour, that can be used to empower them as responsible citizens while being supported by trained youth workers.
Numerous activities are offered to young people by youth centres and youth organizations, where they are actively involved in the realization of projects.
As of 1 January 2022, the Decree of 14 December 2021 on the Amendment of the Decree of 6 December 2011 on the Promotion of Youth Work (Dekret vom 14. Dezember 2021 zur Abänderung des Dekret vom 06. Dezember 2011 zur Förderung der Jugendarbeit) entered into force. Up until then, joint committees monitored the implementation and the evaluation of the contracts on performance of open youth work on the local level. Representatives of the German-speaking Community, the respective local authority and the agencies of the Open Youth Work were represented in these committees. As of 1 January 2022, as far the Open Youth Work Agencies are concerned, these performance contracts are no longer applied. Instead, the Open Youth Work Agencies need to apply for support for a period of 5 years and have to submit an annual activity report.
Until 31 December 2021, youth organisations met annually with the ministry for an effectiveness dialogue during which the implementation of the concept and what has happened in the previous year were discussed. As of 1 January 2022, this, too, has changed. There is still an annual effectiveness dialogue between the youth organisations and the ministry, however the content has changed. Youth organisation no longer need to write a 5 year concept and have it approved. Instead, they apply for funding for a 5 year period and submit an annual work programme. The effectiveness dialogue will serve to discuss the implementation and actualisation of the previous and the current year as well as the planning for the following year.
The Council of the German-speaking Youth is responsible for the organisation and managing of training for youth leaders.