Project “YOUth Ambassadors of Non-Formal Learning”
Interviewer: Maëlle Julou
Interviewee: Theodosia Konstadinidou, Founder of “O Kupos” Seminars
Date and location: Thessaloniki, 15/06/2020
List of questions for the interview
- Is the law defining NFE in your country? If yes, please describe what the law says.
According to the Greek Legislation (law 3879/2010) no formal education includes:
- Initial Vocational Training
- Continuing Vocational Training
- General Adult Education
- The Apprenticeship Class, which is a fourth year after graduating from the vocational upper secondary school (EPAL).
- Please describe the existing strategies, action plans that define nonformal learning in your country?
There is no comprehensive national framework for recognizing no formal-education and tools to validate it have not been developed yet. Therefore, people have not the right to see their leaning process assessed with a legal documentation. However, the National Organisation for the Certification of Qualifications and Vocational Guidance (EOPPEP) (law 4115/2013) has developed certification to recognize the skills and knowledge of professionals educators and training staff.
- Have you been involved in the development of a strategy / action plan / law in excess of the NFE issues?
I will give you an example. When I was working as a teacher in a school, the classes where in the morning. I thought that during the afternoon, when the school is empty, we could do great things inside, for the people of the neighborhood to have access to the building and have some possibilities of non formal learning. The school wasn’t into the idea, but mostly it is the municipality that blocked it. I think it would be great if something like that happened, because the people who want to share their knowledge wouldn’t have to pay rent etc, and the municipality could offer them a compensation even. That would be an easier way of funding non-formal education for them, and a more efficient instead of give money for some NFE projects who have to pay rent and all this things, for example. Maybe even teachers would love to teach one or two hours something for anyone interested, for a bit of money or for no money at all. This would be a win-win strategy for everybody. I started my own initiative, not by inviting people of the neighborhood as I thought, but by proposing my student if they want to stay on friday afternoons to practice some theater, completely voluntarily for them and for me. I couldn’t believe how many were staying for hours to attend, being part of a group, propose some texts, etc. I was always pushing for a strategy about non-formal education in schools to emerge, but in vain.
- Do you work on promoting NFE and how?
Yes this is what we do the whole day! We believe that it is important to promote NFE as there are some parts of the education we got at school that are gone or that are not that relevant for what we may need. Or there are parts that we never truly understood, even if we spent years sitting at our school tables. According to me, the most we can learn is through non-formal education. And learning by doing is the best way. Before I was a teacher in formal education, and I was trying so much to bring everything I know from life experience in the classroom.
The movie “Slumdog Millionaire” shows us that the main character takes knowledge from everywhere around him, and then in the game he uses all these things and wins. For me, NFE is well pictured in this movie.
An other example..here we can see a movie on the life of Churchill, before, during, and after the war. We can see something about the arts created in this period, or a philosophical movement of this time. All this, we combine it to create in our mind a more clear idea of this historic period as a whole, not in a linear way. That is what we do here.
You and me, we read literature, maybe the others in front of us know how to dance, the other next to you is doing theater, and it is great to exchange what we know. We all have something to offer. And it is a great feeling to have the appetite to learn anything.
Generally, we do a first exercise, and then we discover a bit of theory, other schools of thought, we try to see a subject to have a complete idea of it, even if there is never the possibility to have an end to it.
We also propose some trips (in Rome, Naples, Turkey..) with always in our mind the purpose of education. The music, the way of eating and drinking,..all these things that we discover are part of our education. If you see how people are living their cultures in the present, when later you read about history you can understand better, because you create links in your mind.
- For your institution/CSO how young people recognize NFE?
This education has more significant results, it is not going to replace the formal education of course but in terms of skills it has to fill a gap that the formal education cannot fill, due to the bureaucracy, the obligatory aspect, the lack of adaptation to the student,etc. Young people understand that and they recognize the importance of non-formal learning where they experience it.
Non-formal learning brings joy, which results in more learning efficiency. It is a very pleasant way of educate yourself, by socializing, being in groups, etc and this something everybody should realize.
- What are you doing about NFE in term to make closeness with youth?
Here, we are working mostly with adults, but if we consider that youth is until 25/30 years old, we can say that we work a lot with young people. We encourage them to participate to all our seminars, and we create seminars especially for young people also.
- Have you involved young people in the process of bringing about things that are relevant to non-formal education?
We talk a lot about non-formal education with the people who offer seminars, because they acquired this knowledge through formal education as a student, and it can be difficult to give a non-formal education seminar about it. Usually the people that offer seminars they never did it before. They have education in one field, and they have no idea how they will share this knowledge at the beginning. We sit together and we help to think of the best way. And the seminar is amazing at the end! We want collaborators that give the seminars to know very very well the subject they offer, and this is actually are motto : if you know something very well and if you love it, it is easy for you to explain it with simple words. The person who is presenting its subject takes also a lot from this. We have a lot of young people that are young, going out of masters or phD and are very interested in having this sharing experience.
The young people participating in the seminar also are proposing some new subjects and discuss this way of learning, and what can be changed sometimes. In general they really value this type of learning.
- Should the Government get involved and make an even bigger contribution when it we are speaking about youth and policies about youth?
I will talk about policies about youth linked with non-formal education, in my part. Generally, the government doesn’t care about non formal education, as I already explained you with my experience in a school. For me yes, it should make a bigger contribution. The thing is that there is no staff specialized on that matter in public structures like schools, library, etc. Non-formal belongs to no-category for them.