The following features of the Programme deserve special attention. Some of them are presented in more detail on the Commission website.

Non-formal learning

The Youth in Action Programme provides important opportunities for young people to acquire competences. Therefore it is a key instrument for non-formal and informal learning in a European dimension.

Non-formal learning refers to the learning which takes place outside formal educational curriculum. Non-formal learning activities involve people on a voluntary basis and are carefully planned, to foster the participants’ personal, social and professional development.

Informal learning refers to the learning in daily life activities, in work, family, leisure, etc. It is mainly learning by doing. In the youth sector, informal learning takes place in youth and leisure initiatives, in peer group and voluntary activities etc.

Non-formal and informal learning enables young people to acquire essential competences and contributes to their personal development, social inclusion and active citizenship, thereby improving their employment prospects. Learning activities within the youth field provide significant added value for young people as well as for the economy and society at large such as capacity-building of organisations, benefits for communities, systems and institutions.

Non-formal and informal learning activities within the Youth in Action Programme are complementary to the formal education and training system. They have a participative and learner-centred approach, are carried out on a voluntary basis and are therefore closely linked to young people’s needs, aspirations and interests. By providing an additional source of learning and a route into formal education and training, such activities are particularly relevant to young people with fewer opportunities.

A high-quality non-formal learning dimension is a key-aspect of all projects supported by the Youth in Action Programme. This is notably reflected in the award criteria of the different Actions and sub-Actions, the supportive approach of the Commission, Executive Agency and National Agencies towards the target groups of the Programme, the definition of rights and responsibilities in European Voluntary Service, and, finally, the emphasis put on recognition of the non-formal learning experience.

Projects funded by the Youth in Action Programme have to adhere to the non-formal learning principles. These
are:

  • learning in non-formal contexts is intended and voluntary
  • education takes place in a diverse range of environments and situations for which training and learning are not necessarily the sole or main activity
  • the activities may be staffed by professional learning facilitators (such as youth trainers/workers) or volunteers (such as youth leaders or youth trainers)
  • the activities are planned but are seldom structured by conventional rhythms or curriculum subjects
  • the activities usually address specific target groups and document learning in a specific, field oriented way.

Youthpass

Every person who has taken part in a Youth in Action project under Action 1.1, Action 1.2, Action 3.1 (Youth Exchanges and Training Courses), Action 2, and Action 4.3 (Training Courses) is entitled to receive a Youthpass Certificate, which describes and validates the non-formal and informal learning experience and outcomes acquired during the project.

Issuing a Youthpass Certificate supports learning processes within the Youth in Action projects and enhances the quality of the projects. More support can be found in the Youthpass Guide and other educational publications, available at www.youthpass.eu.

All Youthpass Certificates have a common structure, a coherent layout, and contain the following information:

  • ? personal details about the participant
  • ? general description of the relevant Action of the Programme
  • ? key information concerning the project and the activities realised by the participant
  • ? description and assessment of the participant’s learning outcome during the project.

Through Youthpass, the European Commission ensures that participation in the Programme is recognised as an educational experience and a period of non-formal learning and informal learning. This document can be of great benefit for the personal, future educational or professional pathway of the participant.

Each beneficiary of a Youth in Action grant under the Actions concerned is responsible for:

  • informing all participants involved in the project that they are entitled to receive a Youthpass Certificate
  • issuing such Certificates to all participants who request one.

These obligations are specified in the model of grant agreement between the beneficiary and the relevant National or Executive Agency. 

The technical solution for beneficiaries to issue Youthpass Certificates is available at www.youthpass.eu.

Visibility of the Youth in Action Programme

All projects funded under the Youth in Action Programme must develop measures aimed at ensuring the visibility of their project and of the Programme. Visibility consists in spreading information about the project, its objectives and attended results, as well as in promoting the contribution of the EU Youth in Action Programme to the realisation of the project. Visibility measures mainly occur before and during the implementation of the project. Such measures can be for example: developing information or promotional material; issuing press releases or writing articles for newspapers, magazines, websites or newsletters; creating an e-group, a web space, a photogallery or blog on the Internet, etc.

Enhancing the visibility of the Youth in Action Programme also means that activities and products funded within the Programme clearly mention that they have received the European Union’s support and are labelled by the Youth in Action logo.

Dissemination and exploitation of results

Dissemination and exploitation of results relates to the use and practical application of a project’s outcomes throughout various follow-up activities after finalising the project. The aim of such follow-up activities is to increase the impact of the project by its multiplying effect and to ensure the sustainability of achieved results. It can be achieved through:

  • disseminating the educational concept of a project and enabling other promoters to use it in a new context (e.g. organising presentations, seminars, trainings)
  • disseminating the educational results of the project achieved during the project implementation (e.g. organising screening of films, discussion fora, establishing a long-term collaboration with media, disseminating promotional material or products).

The follow-up activities should be considered when planning a project. Exploitation of results can take place either at individual and institutional levels (multiplication), or at the level of the policies (mainstreaming).

Multiplication is obtained for instance by spreading the project concept or results and convincing other promoters to use them in a new context. Promoters should identify possible target groups that could act as multipliers (young people, youth workers, media, political leaders, and opinion leaders, EU decision makers) in order to spread the project’s concept and results. Mainstreaming is obtained through a structured and planned process of convincing decision-makers to use successful concepts or results from certain projects by incorporating them into local, regional, national or European systems and practices.

For this purpose, the Commission has established a strategy targeting the systematic dissemination and exploitation of project outcomes at various levels. The different actors involved in the Programme (European Commission, Executive Agency, National Agencies, promoters, etc.) have a specific role to play to achieve this end.

As far as promoters are concerned, they should plan and carry out follow-up activities aimed at making their project concept and results better known and sustainable. This means that the results of a project will continue to be used and have a positive effect on the largest possible number of young people once the project has come to an end. By planning such follow-up activities as part of their projects, promoters will increase the quality of their work and actively contribute to the overall impact of the Youth in Action Programme.

Furthermore, the Directorate-General Education and Culture has developed an electronic platform called “EVE” in order to support promoters of the Youth in Action Programme (as well as other Programmes of the Directorate-General) in the dissemination and exploitation of the results of their projects EU-wide. The National Agencies are responsible for pre-identifying Youth in Action representative projects to be displayed in EVE. More information on EVE can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/education_culture/eve/.

Anti-discrimination

Anti-discrimination is a core element of the Youth in Action Programme. The Programme should be accessible to all young people without any form of discrimination on grounds of gender, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability or sexual orientation. 

Equality between women and men 

Equality between women and men was strengthened in the Treaty of Amsterdam and is one of the priorities for developing employment in the European Union. All Member States have decided to include the principle of equality between women and men (or “gender equality”) in all policies and actions at European level, particularly in the fields of education and culture.

The Youth in Action Programme aims at reaching an equal number of male and female participants, not only globally, but also within each sub-Action. At Programme structures level, this means that appropriate measures should be taken, as much as possible, to stimulate the interest and participation of the less represented gender in each sub-Action.

Furthermore, the Youth in Action Programme aims at stimulating the thematic coverage of gender equality in projects. Promoters may either set up projects focusing on a theme directly linked to gender equality (for instance: stereotypes, reproductive health, gender-based violence, etc.) or adopt a mainstreaming approach by including a gender equality dimension in all the projects they organise, whatever the main theme may be.

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