The World Non-Formal Education Forum, convened by the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM), UNICEF, UNFPA and the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, kicked off in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on December 9th and will run until December 11th. The Forum is the first convening of its kind offering an international platform for ideas on non-formal education and aiming to explore how organisations can keep pace with the latest trends in non-formal education and contribute towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Non-formal education is a prerequisite for meaningful engagement in modern society. We are witnessing the largest generation of youth the world has ever seen, and it is our responsibility to ensure that every young person has access to opportunities that allow them to thrive in this rapidly changing society,” said Ahmad Alhendawi, Secretary General of the Scout Movement, who also serves on the Ban Ki-moon Centre’s Board.
Moderated by Alhendawi,
the first plenary session was held under the theme of “A Changing World of Learning: Where does Non-Formal Education fit in?” where BKMC CEO Monika Froehler featured as a key speaker.
She said “a life-long learning is incredibly important and non-formal education is actually much faster than formal education and is a pioneer in the life-long learning platform.”
“We need people that have agency. We need people with a global citizenship mindset,”quoting Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba Group and Jack Ma Foundation, Froehler said that this is exactly what non-formal education says.
Contrary to the notion that education happens only through the formal educational curriculum, non-formal education is what happens in places such as youth organizations and clubs, and community groups where young people meet to undertake projects together, facilitate peer-to-peer learning, and engage in activities like camping, music and community service. Research highlights the increasing relevance of non-formal in building a wide-range of competencies that are necessary for a changing-world.
Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Youth Envoy, stressed that there should be “mutual respects across generations and within the generation.” Leading the youth panel discussion, she agreed that young people should not be expected to bring new solutions but rather that they are here to encourage the decision-makers to actually implement the solutions.
The three-day programme features a series of main panel discussions led by sector experts, stage talks, innovation labs and over 30 interactive sessions and side events. Among the key outcomes of the event will be a joint statement referred to as the Rio Declaration, presenting action items and commitments to advance the agenda and investment in non-formal education.
“Non-formal education is a powerful force for empowering young people to become active citizens and create social impact towards sustainable development. The next three days will bring key actors on board to drive more recognition and investments in non-formal education and allow us the opportunity to collaborate internationally and form successful partnerships,” said Pia Melin Mortensen, Member of the World Scout Committee and Chair of the World Non-Formal Education planning team.
The event is also providing a platform for alliances of youth orgnaisations to convene their annual side meetings including the International Coordination Meeting of Youth Organisations (ICMYO) and the “Big 6” group of youth organisations which includes the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, YMCA, YWCA, International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.
“We are small organizations but have enormous impacts. Our work is super valuable,” said one of the participants from the audience at the youth panel discussion.
Watch the live streaming here:
© Enrique Leon / World Scouting