Promoting the role and developing the opportunities of non-formal education as an integral part of adult learning in the 21st century became a key priority of the 6th Festival of Non-Formal Education “Adult Education in the 21st century: Learn to Act” that took place on July 7-9, 2016 in Johannes Rau International Centre for Education and Exchange, Minsk.
Around 250 adult education theoreticians and practitioners from all over Belarus as well as Ukraine, Lithuania, Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, Hungary, Poland and Russia gathered to exchange experience and discuss possible joint actions. Establishment of new contacts, facilitation of the search of partners, acquaintance with success stories from different countries – these are only some of the outcomes of the three-day professional communication between the participants.
According to the Head of EU Delegation to Belarus, Ambassador Andrea Wiktorin, “one should pay close attention to non-formal education – both on the level of decision-making and that of consumption of educational services by citizens. The European Union supports various educational projects – including initiatives on developing life-long learning, vocational education actions and adult education programmes in different fields. The tradition to conduct festivals is important for the development of the sphere in Belarus – it can give impetus to further cooperation in the filed of adult education on a European level”.
The first day of the Festival started with the presentation of the Manifesto on Adult Learning in the 21st Century developed by the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) and chosen as a framework for the Festival. The Manifesto proclaims the creation of a “learning Europe” capable of meeting the challenges of the future. The Manifesto was presented to the Belarusian community by the President of the EAEA Per Paludan Hansen. The representatives of the Organizing Committee –Head of the Representative Office of the German Adult Education Association Galina Veramejchyk and Chairman of the Association of Life-Long Learning and Enlightenment Dmitry Karpievich – shared their vision of the challenges and ways of development of adult education in modern Belarus. The key tasks of modern non-formal adult education mentioned in their speech were: promoting the development of an individual value system, acquiring necessary life skills, bridging the gaps in the formal educational system, prompt response to educational needs of the society.
On July 7, a series of discussions were conducted within the theme sections of the Festival: national educational policies; active citizenship; demographic changes and life skills; social cohesion, equity and equality for sustainable development; quality standards and competences of educators. An exhibition of non-formal education organizations and initiatives was open throughout the day.
The second day of the Festival was practice-oriented: around 50 master-classes, trainings and presentations were conducted. The participants learned how to use games, quests, digital tools and augmented reality technologies in education, how “not to get old in Belarusian style”, take a gender-sensitive approach and avoid fear when speaking publicly. In the second half of the day the participants discussed the ideas of future cooperation in an “open space” mode.
On the third day of the Festival, the participants visited innovative educational sites in Minsk: educational center “Leader”, creative environment “TSEKH”, Historical Workshop, business club “Imaguru” and others. The Festival ended up with an open public discussion “Non-formal education and life-skills” where personalities from cultural, educational spheres and international institutions, media personages – the so called opinion leaders – discussed their experience of participating in non-formal learning.
During the closing ceremony, the winners of the contests “Event of the year in non-formal education” and “Best journalist article “On education non-formally” were also rewarded. The winners were identified by a selection committee and a public vote in which 3000 people took part. The “events of the year” were: inclusive mini-football matches of YMCA Belarus, young enthusiasts’ project “Tuteishyja kvesty”, Street Art Festival of the Brazilian Embassy and educational campaign “How (not) to get old in Belarusian style” of the Belarusian Republican Gerontological Society. The winners of the journalist contest were: correspondent of the web-site “Tvoj stil” Irina Novik, journalist of the Belarusian Internet-portal TUT.BY Natalia Kostiukevich, professor of the Printing Technologies and Mediacommunications Department (Belarusian State Technological University) Vladimir Kulikovich and journalist of the portal “Zavtra tvoej strany” Tatiana Zhernosek.
The Festival demonstrated that non-formal adult education can be an important instrument in dealing with modern challenges. It ensures acquiring useful skills and experience that can change lives and open new possibilities: better employment and competitiveness on a labour market, return into an educational process for low-skilled people, realization of one’s artistic and cultural potential, as well as promoting responsible civil participation.
The 6th Festival of non-formal education is organized within the project ”Learn to Act” (financed by the European Union and DVV International) that aims at supportting realization of the right to life-long learning and participatory decision-making processes. The Festival was organized by The Representative Office of the German Adult Education Association, Association of Life-long Learning and Enlightenment, J.Rau Minsk International Educational Centre.
The results of the contests, photos as well as other materials are accessible on the website of the Festival , as well as in facebook.
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