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“Youth work” and, more specifically, socio-educational activities (See 10.1) are structured around the State, local and regional authorities, non-formal education federations and associations, and professional facilitation sectors. Each of these different stakeholders plays a different role within this governance. The State’s task is to develop policies, impose regulations and establish facilitation qualifications. It finances and co-manages the training and occupations that are supervised by the ministries concerned. It also plays a regulatory role by passing laws on the arrangements for introducing these facilitation activities, the level of skills required from facilitators and the safety of youth and children’s centres. It also puts strategies in place for developing activities for young people.
Four ministries play a particularly important role in implementing socio-educational (socio-cultural) facilitation policy: the Ministry for Youth and Voluntary Organisations (ministère chargé de la jeunesse et de la vie associative), the Ministries of Sport and Agriculture and the Ministry for Cultural Affairs.
The Ministry of Youth and its decentralised services
Under the Ministry of Youth and National Education, the DJEPVA - Department for Youth, Non-Formal Education and Voluntary Organisations (Direction de la jeunesse, de la vie associative et de l’éducation populaire) is tasked with developing youth policy. Consequently, it is a major stakeholder in “youth work” in its broadest sense but also more specifically in socio-educational facilitation (the main focus of this chapter).
The DJEPVA imposes a framework of rules that apply to the field of youth facilitation. It lays down the conditions for access to the posts of facilitator and director. It sets out the legal framework for community centres for minors (accueils collectifs de mineurs) and ensures that this is in place, which includes carrying out checks and assessments. One of its tasks is to provide protection for the minors who attend these centres (day care centres (accueils de loisirs), organised holiday centres (séjours de vacances), etc.) and promote high standards in the activities they offer.
The decentralised departments of the Ministry of Youth, based within each region, can carry out checks at these centres at any time. They also advise the organisers and management team.
In addition, a group of officials working for the Ministry of Youth are responsible for developing and implementing youth policy: they are known as CEPJs - Youth and Non-Formal Education Advisors (Conseillers d’éducation populaire et de jeunesse), and generally work alongside IJSs - Youth and Sports Inspectors (inspecteurs de la jeunesse et des sports).
CEPJs - Youth and Non-Formal Education Advisors (Conseillers d’éducation populaire et de jeunesse)
Strictly speaking, Youth and Non-Formal Education Advisors (conseillers d’éducation populaire et de jeunesse) are not facilitators or facilitation professionals themselves; however, their occupation also relates to youth work. These are category A officials who work for the Ministry of Youth within the Department for Youth, Non-Formal Education and Voluntary Organisations (Direction de la Jeunesse, de l’Éducation Populaire et de la Vie Associative) or within its decentralised services. They help the State implement its youth policy, which is specifically designed to:
- Foster independence and a sense of responsibility in young people through commitment and volunteering, and via international mobility;
- Improve access to high-quality recreational education and to relevant information;
- Support the development and dynamism of voluntary organisations and help provide vocational training and professional qualifications within the voluntary sector;
- Provide access to informal education and lifelong learning for as many people as possible.
Ministry of Sport
The Ministry of Sport and the Ministry for Youth, along with their decentralised services, organise training and the awarding of vocational State qualifications in socio-cultural and sports facilitation.
The Ministry for Cultural Affairs
Under the Ministry for Cultural Affairs, and alongside the Ministry of National Education’s services and other government departments including local and regional authorities, the DRACs - Regional Departments for Cultural Affairs (Directions régionales des affaires culturelles) lead educational and cultural initiatives that promote artistic and cultural education, particularly within youth and children’s centres and outside the school environment. The DRACs implement the national plan for artistic and cultural education. Their artistic and cultural education advisors are responsible, amongst other things, for providing the organisations that implement artistic and cultural education with support and information.
The Ministry of Agriculture
The Ministry of Agriculture has its own teaching body composed of socio-cultural studies tutors who have specifically taken over from the socio-cultural facilitators’ organisations. These teachers also act as facilitators. They design their institution's cultural development project.
Local and regional authorities
The local level plays an increasingly important role in the implementation of policies involving socio-cultural activities. Local and regional authorities have an important role to play in terms of facilitation since they (and particularly the municipalities) are largely responsible for setting up the Community Centres for Minors (accueils collectifs de mineurs) where the youth work takes place (socio-cultural activities) and recruiting the staff who provide the activities (directors, facilitators). The local and regional authorities work alongside the decentralised services of the Ministry for Youth to set up Community Centres for Minors (accueils collectifs de mineurs).
In addition, they are also responsible for developing projects for educational activities, as well as regional education projects that bring together all those involved in the field of education in order to create a youth and children’s policy that is consistent with education policy (formal education). At the same time, they also co-fund a large number of socio-educational organisations, especially associations, such as social centres, youth and cultural centres, etc.
Socio-cultural facilitation (or youth work) often relies on partnerships and cross-cutting work between various stakeholders in different fields: ministries, government agencies, local and regional authorities and often associations or organisations from the fields of socio-cultural facilitation, sport, health and culture. All these stakeholders are particularly committed to specific measures based on multi-partnership cooperation involving the relevant ministries, government agencies and associations.
PEDTs - Territorial Educational Projects (Projets Educatifs territoriaux)
Introduced in 2013, territorial educational projects (projets éducatifs territoriaux) mobilise a region’s entire resources in order to provide educational continuity between primary and secondary school projects and the activities provided for children outside school hours. They must provide extra-curricular activities (non-formal education) that extend and complement the public education service. PEDTs must help implement policies that encourage educational achievement and reduce educational inequalities or provide access to recreational education.
They take the form of a contract between local and regional authorities, government agencies and other partners (associations, non-formal educational organisations, etc.).
Within PEDTs, activities available to children outside school hours come under socio-cultural activities (youth work). They are provided by facilitators and associative movements (youth and non-formal education movements, local sports movements, cultural institutions, local associations, etc.). These activities may also involve volunteers (bénévoles) and parents’ associations. Mayors may also use volunteer teachers to supervise children outside school hours.
Territorial educational projects (projets éducatifs territoriaux) incorporate existing extra-curricular activities and may be based on the various schemes already in place within the communes involved.
Therefore they may be based on PELs - Local Educational Projects (projets éducatifs locaux) and on CELs - Local Educational Contracts (contrats éducatifs locaux).
PEL - Local Educational Projects (Projets éducatifs locaux) and CEL - Local Educational Contracts (contrats éducatifs locaux)
PELs - Local Educational Projects (projets éducatifs locaux) and CELs - Local Educational Contracts (contrats éducatifs locaux) were introduced in 1998. These schemes predate the PEDTs; however, they have a number of points in common.
CELs/PELs organise and set out the legal framework for the extra-curricular (Wednesdays, weekends and holidays) and after-school (immediately before or after school) activities for children aged 3 to 16 provided within a region. CELs vary between regions, in terms of the ages catered for and the sectoral policies they reflect: certain CELs/PELs introduce initiatives for providing parental support and employment for young people aged 16 to 25, for example. In addition, in certain CELs/PELs residents play a greater role in the choice and development of projects. This involves organisations or services that are not directly concerned with youth policy.
The plan Mercredi (Wednesday Plan)
The WednesdayPlan (Plan mercredi) was launched in June 2018 as an aid to organising extracurricular activities, particularly within the context of the 4-day school week. It allows voluntary local and regional authorities to obtain support and funding from the State and from social agencies for the provision of Wednesday after-school facilities for children in kindergarten and primary school. The Wednesday Plan (Plan mercredi) involves stakeholders in education, youth and childhood policy.
The Wednesday Plan (Plan mercredi) is designed to help restructure children’s timetables by improving the links between time spent in the classroom and time spent on extra-curricular and after-school activities. It aims to improve the quality of extra-curricular activities and create a framework of trust for families.
This scheme, which must be backed up by a PEDT, is based on the legal framework for Community Centres for Minors (accueil collectif de mineurs), which is governed by the Social Action and Family Code (Code de l’action sociale et des familles). Communities that set up a Wednesday Plan (Plan mercredi) must comply with the quality charter’s three priorities for providing facilities for children on Wednesdays:
- “Ensure that from an educational point of view, time spent on extra-curricular activities on Wednesdays must complement time spent with the family and in the classroom”;
- “Guarantee inclusion and accessibility for all children wishing to attend after-school facilities, particularly children with disabilities”;
- “Extra-curricular activities should be consistent with a region and with its stakeholders”;
- “Offer rich and varied activities, including educational outings, with the aim of a final project (performance, exhibition, sports tournament, etc.)”.
Certain cross-sectoral youth work schemes focus specifically on arts education and culture.
CLEA - Local Arts and Cultural Education Contract (Contrat local d'éducation artistique et culturel)
The CLEA – Local arts and Cultural Education Contract (contrat local d'éducation artistique et culturel) is a 3-year renewable contract, signed between a community and the services of the Ministries of Culture and National Education. According to their skills, responsibilities and resources, all partners are invited to work towards organising a shared and unifying project, the aim of which is to extend artistic and cultural education. Shared projects may relate to:
- the applied arts
- circus skills
- digital art
- the cinema and audiovisual media
- the theatre
- fine art
- reading and writing
CLEAs bring in, amongst others, youth workers (facilitators, tutors, etc.) and professionals from the world of art and culture (artists, heads of organisations, programming teams, etc.).
ACMs - Collective Centres for Minors (accueils collectifs des mineurs)
Cross-sectoral cooperation is also involved in the setting up of ACMs - Collective Centres for Minors (accueils collectifs de mineurs), which comes under Youth Work (socio-educative activities).
ACMs are organised during leisure time and in the holidays (extra-curricular and out-of-school hours). They give children and young people the chance to take part in a variety of educational and recreational leisure activities within the framework of educational projects that are “specific to individual organisers and pedagogic projects that are specific to individual management teams”.
ACMs are State-regulated and must be registered with the Ministry for Youth. They are organised by non-profit associations and local authorities, particularly where after-school facilities are concerned. They may also be organised by works councils, commercial enterprises or individuals.
Various stakeholders — institutions, policy makers and associations — are involved in ACMs; they work together but have different roles — monitoring, organisation, facilitation and assessment.
The three most commonly available types of facilities are:
- organised holiday centres (séjours de vacances) (holiday centres and holiday camps (colonies de vacances))
- day care centres (accueils de loisirs) (leisure centres and outdoor activity centres (centres aérés))
- scout clubs, organised by scouting associations with national Ministry for Youth “youth and non-formal education” certification.