5.7 “Learning to participate” through formal, non-formal and informal learning
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There is no strategy developed and approved in Latvia that establishes acquisition of participation in formal and non-formal education, but there are several laws (see before – the Education Law, the Youth Law, the Youth Policy Implementation Plan for 2016–2020) or programmes where the support measures for promotion of participation are established.
Supporting Non-Formal Learning Initiatives Focusing on Social and Civic Competences.
European youth information network Eurodesk provides information on mobility and participation opportunities in Europe to every young person, youth worker and person engaged in work with young people. Thousands of young people throughout Europe use Eurodesk each year to search for information regarding non-formal learning, study, work, travel opportunities in Europe, as well as partners for their projects or participants for international events.
The overarching aim of the Eurodesk network is to raise awareness among young people on mobility opportunities and to encourage them to become active citizens. The network operates in all EU and EFTA states (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland), as well as Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Ukraine.
The network has national (state-level) coordinators and multipliers (regional coordinators and information points) that disseminate information in different regions of Latvia organising informative seminars and training thus reaching more young people in towns and spreading information on mobility and participation opportunities in Europe. In Latvia, the Agency for International Programmes for Youth coordinates Eurodesk network.
The aims of citizenship education in Latvia are implemented most directly with the help of school subject “social sciences”. However, it is important to mention that such knowledge is integrated in several school subjects, for instance, economics, history, geography, politics.
Teachers who are members of eTwinning school network foster civic education by using the project method. It is done facilitating several learning tasks and skills like international cooperation among school students of different countries, empathy, planning and implementation of practical projects topical for society. School students improve their understanding of environment that promotes understanding of sustainable use of resources in several eTwinning projects.
Youth non-formal education is based on interactive learning – doing something that the individual likes and is interested in. The objective of non-formal education that is specified in Section 8 Paragraph two of the Youth Law is “to provide knowledge, develop skills, abilities and attitudes, as well as to promote comprehensive development of young people and active youth participation in decision-making and social life”.
Implementers of youth non-formal education are youth organisations, associations and foundations, in which young people participate, and any young person may be the most important implementer of non-formal education.
For more than ten years, youth organisations have been establishing and developing various youth non-formal education programmes. Non-formal youth education is a daily task of any member of a youth organisation in Latvia – all members of youth organisations have participated in various non-formal education seminars, work groups and meetings, as well as conferences and events in Latvia and abroad.
Promoters of non-formal education are youth workers and people who carry out youth work, for instance youth affairs specialists in local governments, youth workers, heads of youth initiative centres.
There are various places where young people may engage in non-formal education activities, and it is important to mention that they are available for anyone, including young people facing social exclusion and risk, for instance disabled young people. However, the very basis of non-formal education is youth organisations and youth centres (youth initiative centres) where practical work with young people is carried out on a daily basis. There are 182 youth centres operating in Latvia, and the aim of the centres is to foster initiatives, participation in decision-making and social life of young people residing in the territory of a local government on the basis of non-formal education.
Informal learning – education that may take place consciously or unconsciously on a daily basis and at work, acquiring new knowledge, skills, competences, attitude and values that enrich and improve one's personality or supplementing the existing ones.
Using non-formal and informal learning methods, a young person has an opportunity to improve their skills in a specific field, thus comprehensive development of youth is fostered.
Non-formal education in youth work is carried out without regulatory systems. Non-formal education includes:
- volunteer Work and
- participation in NGOs
- sporting activities
- talent and development of interests
- skills and competencies development (learning by doing)
- informal learning (environment, books, people, family, socializing).
Activities implemented and ensure that NGOs and local youth centres who are themselves responsible for the quality and the recognition of learning outcomes.
Non-formal education, which is being implemented through the Erasmus + Youthpass include a framework that ensures both the quality and recognition of learning outcomes.
Youthpass is a tool that can be used in formal and informal education within youth work.YOUTHPASS helps each participant in the learning process. It can be used:
- Giving learning objectives (to understand what I want to learn and how best to do);
- To assess the learning objectives (understand what I have learned and the way in which it was easier to learn);
- To promote the member's own awareness of the lessons competences (competences Description / certificate-making process);
- For the recognition of competences acquired the employer / school, etc. (certificate received).
More than 600 000 teachers are members of eTwinning network with 6100 of them from Latvia. eTwinning Live platform provides teachers with an opportunity to find cooperation partners for joint projects and for sharing good experience and teaching aids. eTwinning also provide participants with built in project management tool Twinspace that is suitable for formal education projects and provide participants with necessary network security.
eTwining organises professional training courses for teachers at national and international level on a regular basis; within the training, teachers can acquire the methodology of project approach, as well as get information about different ICT tools. Most part of the training directly or indirectly fosters development of citizenship education in the country.