5.7 “Learning to participate” through formal, non-formal and informal learning
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The national strategy which applies to social and civic competencies and their development is the National Youth Policy Towards 2030 – Reaching out to, working with, and supporting young people.
The document has 2 overarching aims. These are to effectively support and encourage young people in fulfilling their potential and aspirations while addressing their needs and concerns, and to effectively support young people as responsible citizens who participate in and contribute to the social, economic, political, and cultural life of the nation and Europe and in addressing global issues.
These aims will be achieved by, first reaching out to, connecting with, and listening to the voices of young people in the community; in the schools and other education/ training institutions; in the workplace; through social media.
Secondly through, empowering young people through the effective practice of youth work in regional and locally-based centres; national programmes, projects and initiatives; youth-led organisations; cross-sectoral initiatives with voluntary, public and private entities, and European programmes.
Having regard to the changing lives of young people in Malta today and the need for employing effective policies in support of them, the national youth policy, Towards 2030 focuses on all young people aged 13 to 30.
Also, the National Curriculum Framework - A National Curriculum Framework for All 2012 - aims to enable individuals to become lifelong learners. This implies an effort by all to give learners the knowledge, skills, competences, attitudes, and values necessary to be attracted to further and higher education, to re-skilling and up-skilling during the working years and to active participation in the civic and social life
Citizenship education is not a standalone subject. It falls within Education for Democracy Learning Area and is directed towards developing responsible citizens. It is integrated into Social Studies; Personal, Social and Career Development and European Studies.
The learning objectives are about learning the principles of democracy, active citizenship, and active participation in society.
Participative structures within formal education settings
The Youth Hub is a non-formal educational service provided and funded by Aġenzija Żgħażagħ – the National Youth Agency - within formal upper-secondary education set-ups. Youth Hubs offer an informal and recreational environment in which a youth worker can build a healthy relationship with young people. As a result of this relationship, the youth worker can work with young people so that they can come up with projects and initiatives that enhance both their personal and social skills that in turn upgrade their educational attainment and employability. The Youth Hubs serve a number of purposes and aims. First, the distinctions between formal, non-formal, and informal learning environments are at once both articulated and resolved: learning becomes a lifelong pursuit regardless of age or environment. Second, the merits and ends of particular forms of learning emerge as both distinctive and mutually supportive. Third, the effect on young people’s moral and confidence through their active involvement and participation in shaping and developing their own learning environment is a means of empowering them to make decisions, to work towards the achievement of their aims and aspirations and to take responsibility for their actions both as individuals and citizens.
Since the scholastic year 2018/2019 a newly accredited training programme for young people called “Award in Youth Leadership” was developed by Agenzija Zghazagh and is being delivered by youth workers and teachers together in different higher education institutions. This training programme is made up of 4 modules:
- Introduction to Leadership
- Communicating Effectively
- Strategic Planning
- Civic responsibilities and Active Citizenship
The Award in Youth Leadership training programme is designed so as to enable young people to acquire skills that will allow them to serve as catalysts for change in their personal and social lives, be it in organisations or communities where they belong.
As for this year due to the pandemic is also available the Award in Youth Leadership was also available online
All State Schools in Malta have the opportunity to elect a School Council, regulated through the Education Act of the Laws of Malta. The School Council is a forum where teachers and parents work together for the benefit of the children and the school. In post-secondary schools (with students of 16 years and older) 3 members of this Council are elected by and from the students themselves during bi-annual elections. The School Councils are responsible for:
- administrating the funds and assets of the School;
- discussing the school environment and the school amenities and propose ways to ameliorate them;
- discussing the curriculum and the educational services offered by the school and make suggestions to the Department of Education regarding changes or additions to the curriculum;
- discussing and monitoring any environmental, transport and other problems;
- organising fund-raising activities as well as educational and cultural activities both for students and parents.
Partnerships between formal education providers, youth organisations and youth work providers
Aġenzija Żgħażagħ- the Maltese National Youth Agency in collaboration with Scouts (Malta) signed up a Memorandum of Understanding to develop a programme to help young people enhance their personal and social skills, integrate within their communities and engage in extra-curricular and after-school activities. Students from different schools within the 13 to 16 and 17 to 18 age groups using the service benefit from non-formal outdoor education expertise of the organisations such as the Scouts and the youth work expertise provided through Aġenzija Żgħażagħ. The salaries of the youth workers employed with this project and the resources to run the project are paid through public funding.
Aġenzija Żgħażagħ - the Maltese National Youth Agency in collaboration with Żgħażagħ Azzjoni Kattolika – Catholic Action Youth signed a Memorandum of Understanding through which the latter runs a number of Youth Cafes’ where young people can meet up informally and participate in activities that are inducive to learning of civic and social competences. The salaries of the youth workers employed with this project and the resources to run the project are paid through public funding.
Aġenzija Żgħażagħ in collaboration with the Ministry for Education and Employment is providing a number of hands-on training courses/seminars for students between the ages of 14-16-year-old.
3E Citizens – is divided into 3 workshops:
- Enfranchise – This will take the form of a panel discussion with school students sitting on the panel to elaborate more on the implications, rights, and responsibilities of 16+ voting
- Educate – This workshop is intended to help students explore and understand how a bill becomes law
- Engage – The last workshop will give the students the opportunity to work in groups to discuss given issues and then defend them with the rest of the other students
Voting Voices, Responsible Choices – is divided into 4 workshops:
- Introduction to topic / Interactive Q&A session (survey voting)
- Understanding the Electoral Process
- Simulation Exercise – General Council of Students will approve by voting for the candidates and manifesto they will present for the next General Election
- Reflection and Evaluation
My Next School Adventure is an online school transition programme for young people who are entering into secondary schooling developed by Aġenzija Żgħażagħ. For young people, this transition to secondary schooling often poses a number of challenges as they have to deal with new subjects, different teachers and timetables, they will be meeting new students and much more. However, this transition also presents new opportunities. During the 8 online sessions the students will have the opportunity to meet up with peer who will be going through the same school transition and together with a youth worker they explore their personal skills; look into effective ways to express their views in class; discover learning styles; learn how to work effectively with fellow students; learn to be active students; how to deal with conflict and how to get support and also how to manage time both at school and home.
The Secondary Schools Survival Kit is an online transition programme, developed by Aġenzija Żgħażagħ that aims to equip students with essential skills for a smooth transition to their last 3 years of secondary school. Students who are equipped with this kit will find it easier to transition through their last leg of secondary school. This programme is made up of 8 themes, one for each session, that will prompt a discussion around transition, change, celebrating self and friendships, and how to navigate the inevitable stresses associated with these years. The Secondary Schools Survival Kit encourages students to look ahead and start building toward their future goals as individuals and as members of their respective communities. On completion of the sessions, students are given a certificate of participation and the survival kit.
The FineOnline programme developed and delivered by youth workers from Aġenzija Żgħażagħ in secondary schools is designed to present information and generate discussion and reflection to enable young people to manage their digital health and well being more effectively – the first aid of digital well-being.
In these unprecedented times of the Covid-19 pandemic, everyone is relying on digital devices more than ever to remain socially connected while physically distancing themselves from each other.
There are 2 Fine Online programmes entitled deFINEonline – for young people in Year 7 & 8 and reFINEonline – for young people in Year 9 & 10. Through these sessions young people can:
- Become aware about the importance and scope of digital wellness;
- Acquire strategies to enable virtual well-being;
- Be able to self-manage a healthy online/offline balance.
Stand Up Speak Out is an online life skills programme developed by Aġenzija Żgħażagħ and designed to enable young people, from Year & to Year 10 to deal with hate speech and equip themselves with skills to counter intimidating behaviour in schools, outside of schools, and online. Through 8 interactive sessions, young people discuss and express themselves on different scenarios while outlining other solutions to minimize and stop hate speech. During Stand Up speak Out young people will:
- Understand what hate speech is and be able to distinguish different types of intimidation
- Identify and discuss the actions of the perpetrator’s behaviour
- Outline different skills needed to help victims and by-standers to stand up and speak out
- Become aware of the different professionals that can help and support me.
The sessions, in the form of webinars, are delivered by youth workers from Agenzija Zghazagh to students in Years 9, 10 and 11 and focus on the relationship between weighing options and making choices on issues relevant to young people, namely dealing with stressful situations, different career paths and first-time voters.
Demokrazija ISSA! (Democracy now!) is a collaboration between Agenzija Zghazagh and the Ministry for Education. Youth Workers from Agenzija Zghazagh deliver sessions in the form of a webinar to students in Year 8, 9 and 10. The session focuses on democracy as a tangible idea that can be experienced by the students in the immediate through the Student Councils.
Supporting non-formal learning initiatives focusing on social and civic competences
The first is Community Consensus through which young people are given the opportunity to understand and experience consensus as a form of democracy through the simulation of a student advisory group.
The second workshop is Democracy Dine through which young people are given the opportunity to understand how deliberation and negotiation can affect political decisions as compared to an electoral process where decisions are reached following a ballot.
The third workshop is Time for an Adventure through which young people are introduced to human rights, youth information and the benefits of EU citizenship, with an emphasis on the opportunities that mobility offers to you.
Idejazzjonisti is a program by Aġenzija Żgħażagħ for young people between 14 and 18 who want to participate in their communities as active citizens. Groups of up to 5 young people join together and to come up with a proposal concerning the preservation and conservation of a particular element in their locality. A youth worker facilitates the whole process. Throughout this programme these young people will:
- receive training related to civic education skills, to enable them to participate as active citizens in their communities.
- learn to work intergenerationally.
- take an interest in the life of their community, in the challenges and opportunities that offer, and at the same time be able to propose ways of conservation and improvement.
- reflect on their communities, in all physical elements,
- intergenerational, social and cultural aspects that shape it and how they affect it
- gain leadership skills while having the opportunity to put these skills to good use for the service of society.
Aġenzija Żgħażagħ coordinates the Model European Parliament (MEP) in Malta. This project creates an opportunity for young people who are interested in politics and wish to develop their skills in public speaking and political debate to participate in a simulation of the European Parliament. As the representative of MEP Europe in Malta, organises national selections to choose the best delegates from 16 to 19 years old to represent Malta for upcoming international MEP sessions which are held twice a year in different European countries. National selections include training and information workshops following by a simulated European Parliament session which discusses and debates topics of current interest of controversy. Those young people deemed the best contributors in debates can take part as Maltese delegates to the following international MEP session.
Aġenzija Żgħażagħ also provides further training and travel costs to the chosen delegates for an international MEP session. Maltese delegates who excel during international MEP sessions also have the possibility of returning to the next MEP session as Committee Presidents.
All quality assurance for the above projects falls under the responsibility of Aġenzija Żgħażagħ. The law that established the agency clearly states that one of the roles and responsibilities of the agency is to ensure the highest standards in youth work in Malta.
The Institute for Education organises Professional Learning Sessions for teachers that serve their Continuous Professional Development. Teachers are obliged to attend such courses prior to the start of every scholastic year.
Also, Agenzija Zghazagh, has an annual training programme for its youth workers, in 2020 this included the ECDL; Being Online: Social Media Training; Where’s the Punchline; report writing course; general disability issues; food handling; MOOC on youth work and first aid.
The training envisaged for 2021 includes Sex education for persons with intellectual disabilities; dyslexia training course; dealing with autism; report writing; disability issues; Jimmy e-learning course; Open Online Course on Digital Youth Work; Promoting Mental Health and Wellbeing in the School System and Project management and implementation skills.