10.1 General context
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In France, youth work is associated to the development of non-formal education. It encourages empowerment, autonomy and training of citizens.
Both these sectors are first a theme of activity and reflexion, and are under a professionalisation trend since the 1940-1950s, with in particular:
- the creation of specific funding mecanisms
- the creation of the diplomas of the youth work qualification to the function of facilitator (BAFA) and the youth work qualification to the function of director (BAFD) in summer/holiday camps in 1972.
In France, there is no clear or “official” definition of youth work. It is very often linked to the field of “socio-cultural/educational activities” (“animation socio-culturelle/éducative”), which itself partly results from “non-formal education”.
According to the INSEE (the French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies) list of occupations, sociocultural and leisure activities (l’animation socioculturelle et de loisirs) “develop and introduce projects for activities, often within institutions […] organise or help to organise activities designed around: either the social inclusion of certain population groups and the improvement of social relationships between their members; or, more generally, promoting cultural life within communities.”
Providing socio-cultural activities, which is currently known as “facilitation”, genuinely supports individual and collective development and social inclusion. Through non-formal activities and educational, cultural, leisure as well as preventive practices, facilitation fosters social connections and provides training for other types of learning, particularly of a non-formal nature.
Since the 1950s, the facilitation sector has gradually become professionalised until, in the 1980s, it became an occupational sector with its own system of certifications and qualifications. Its role as a sector that serves social, cultural, educational and leisure interests was then clear.
Facilitation relates to a number of fields (health, culture, leisure, social inclusion, etc.) and applies to the whole population: adults, the elderly, children and young people. However, the children and youth sector is one of the main areas where facilitation takes place.
Youth workers known as “facilitators” work with children and young people, for whom they develop and carry out activities. They work within associations and organisations in the field of (informal) “youth and non-formal education”, and also within the State-regulated ACMs “Community Centres for Minors” (“accueils collectifs de mineurs”) which operate outside school hours (during holidays and in leisure time), and are provided by the public authorities.