Project “YOUth Ambassadors of Non-Formal Learning”
Interviewer: Milena Scepanovic
Interviewee: Katarina Vukadinovic, Secretariat for Social Activities at Municipality of Budva
Date and location: July 11, 2020, Budva
List of questions for the interview
- Is there a law defining NFE in your country? If yes, describe what the law says?
For now, there is no law on non-formal education in Montenegro.
- Describe existing strategies, action plans that define non-formal learning in your country?
Non-formal education occupies a significant part of the National Strategy for Youth 2017-2021, in the part which envisages measure C) Young people have access to quality education. It is stated that almost half of the respondents are not familiar with non-formal education programs and so far have not been involved in any form of non-formal education. Both at the national level and in local action plans, the same measures are envisaged, which encourage the development of non-formal learning and the improvement of mechanisms for verifying non-formal and informally acquired knowledge.
- Have you participated in the development of the strategy / action plan / law concerning the NFE issue?
I participated in consultations during the drafting of the National Strategy for Youth 2017-2021, as well as in front of the Office for Prevention of Addiction and Youth and the Youth Club Budva, gave suggestions on the draft of the new Law on Youth, emphasizing the part concerning the functioning of youth services. During the creation of the Municipal Youth Strategy 2018-2021, I was the coordinator of the Working Group. Later, this strategy was harmonized with the Local Action Plan 2020-2021, which is still in the Draft phase.
- Do you work on the promotion of NFE and how?
As a psychological and certified youth activist, I consider it my duty to be informed and to inform young people about non-formal education programs. In addition to distributing information about opportunities for young people through social networks, within the Youth Club Budva with a team of volunteers I create weekly activity plans, which are in line with LPAM. Also, networking and cooperation with all stakeholders, ie organizations and institutions that work with and for young people, as well as parents, is very important, in order to perceive non-formal education in the right way.
- For your institution how youth people recognize NFE?
I must emphasize that the Municipality of Budva is the first Municipality to establish the Youth Club in 2017 (in partnership with the Ministry of Sports and Youth and the MNE Forum), and that until then it was mostly done by civil society organizations. In that sense, the way of communicating with young people and distributing information had to be adjusted. Specifically, since its opening until today, the Youth Club has made about 4,000 visits, to about 200 organized activities per year, on average. However, the impression is that neither young people nor their parents still recognize non-formal education under this name and are still not aware of the benefits, but the best way to get acquainted with this concept proved to be the experiential one, which is that young people who participated in activities at the local and national level, as well as in mobility programs, they pass on their impressions to their peers and talk about the competencies they have acquired.
- What do you do with NFE in terms of closeness with young people?
Personally, I try to be accessible to young people through the communication channels they use, as well as to find all the information that the Youth Office and the Youth Club Budva provide on those channels. I also consider the process of lifelong learning and supervision to be very important, because in order to, as youth workers, maintain a professional relationship with young people with mutual trust, it is necessary to constantly work on personal development. I would also like to emphasize the importance of the “youth friendly” approach, ie placing information in a language that is close to young people, as well as working in a space where they feel safe and comfortable.
- Have you involved young people in the process of making things relevant to non-formal education?
During the creation of the local Youth Strategy, a structured dialogue with young people was organized, where in small groups they had the opportunity to discuss and give suggestions to representatives of the working group, as well as for 80% of their suggestions to be adopted. After that, two Public Hearings were held, through which they were also free to express their opinion on the Draft Strategy. In addition to this process, it is important for us that young people are involved in the entire process of creating activities in the Youth Club, so that every year we choose a team of 10 volunteers from different educational, social and socio-economic backgrounds, to get the best programs that suit most young people. Also, in addition to an active role in terms of creating content, young people in the Youth Club can also be consumers, ie participants in the activities that are being implemented.
- Should the Government be involved and make an even greater contribution when it comes to youth, and youth policy?
Definitely yes. I appreciate the intention of the Ministry of Sports and Youth and the Directorate for Youth to establish youth services in all cities of Montenegro. As the Icelandic model has shown, investing in the development and strengthening of youth services, as well as their professional management, unequivocally leads to visible results in the area of reducing the percentage of deviant behavior and consumption of psychoactive substances. In addition, if we continuously work on highlighting and rewarding young people who have achieved success in the field of civic activism and other areas of non-formal education and community care, it creates role models and creates a social order in which young people believe that change in society is possible when start from yourself.