A major prerequisite of a region’s sustainable development is its readiness to change, adapt to existing conditions and, therefore, learn. This idea is reflected in the concept of a “learning region” that is extremely popular in many countries of the world. This relatively new phenomenon became known in Belarus too. The concept became a basis for the project “Learning region: education for all generations” that was launched in December 2012.
The project is being implemented by the Representative Office of the German Adult Education Association in the Republic of Belarus in cooperation with institutions providing services in the sphere of youth and adult education. Among partner organisations are: State educational institution “Academy of Postdiploma Education”, State educational institution of adult post-graduate education “Vitebsk regional institute for education development”, Institution «Territorial centre of social services for population» of Pervomaisky district of Vitebsk City. Apart from that, such non-governmental organisations as Association of Life-Long Learning and Enlightenment, Republican Public Organisation «Belarusian Association of UNESCO Clubs» and Public Association “Youth education center “Fialta” are also engaged in the project. The project “Learning region: education for all generations” is implemented under the auspices of the Support Program for Belarus. The Support Program for Belarus is initiated by Dortmund International Educational Center (IBB Dortmund) by order of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ).
The key objective of the project is the development of formal and non-formal youth and adult education for the sake of ensuring sustainable development of the region and separate settlements. The pilot territories for the implementation of the project are Minsk and Vitebsk Regions. It is planned to create there a model of regional network/platform for providers of educational services based on the concept of a “learning region” and with regard to the needs of local residents and the region in general.
One of the main project goals is the engagement of wide public in non-formal education. That is why in 2013 a special survey (by way of questioning based on quota sampling) will be conducted to identify educational needs of the population in pilot regions. It is planned that the survey will involve 500 people in each region. The next stage is the study of the region’s educational potential and analysis of foreign experience in adopting the concept of a “learning region” and the subsequent changes in the strategic management of education system. Based on the survey results, the providers in the sphere of non-formal education will be able to develop a package of services that will be in high demand among the residents of pilot regions.
A significant role in the adoption of the concept “learning region” is played by a unified information system for the population. That is why special attention within the project will be given to the development of the Internet-portal “Non-formal education for all generations”. It will be a platform for communication between providers of services in the sphere of non-formal education and their potential clients. Any visitor will find there up-to-date information about events, contests, tenders and seminars, as well as providers of educational services. Furthermore, it will be possible to register on-line for this or that course. The creation of the Internet-portal reflecting the educational activity of pilot regions will enable local residents to take an active part in organised events, and providers of educational services will have a permanent channel of communication with their target groups.
A major component of the project is advanced training and competencies development of state and non-state actors in the sphere of non-formal education. To that end, a seminar “Modern models of adult education: organisation, forms, content and training technologies” was held at State educational institution “Academy of Postdiploma Education” on March 11-14, 2013. The participants of the seminar (specialists in the sphere of youth and adult education) were tought to develop and conduct non-formal education programs for different target groups.
Another important task of the project is promoting the consolidation of providers and development of intersectorial cooperation at a local and regional level. One of the key events intended to solve this task is the Festival of Non-Formal Education 2012 aimed at raising the accessibility of non-formal education for all generations, including the seniors. The Festival drew the public’s attention to the discussion on the social inclusion of different segments of population.
Intersectorial and interdepartmental cooperation will be promoted and reinforced by conducting two round-table conferences on the topic “Learning region and the needs of non-formal education” that will take place in Minsk and Vitebsk. These events will be focused on the concept of “learning regions” and presentation of the concept of the survey.
The final event of the project will be the Forum “Learning Region”that will be held at the beginning of 2014 in Vitebsk. The Forum will not only contribute to the consolidation of providers of educational services in pilot regions, but will also serve as a platform for presenting the results of the project and discussing the future of “learning regions” in Belarus.
Website of the project – www.edu.adukatar.net