What can Europe learn from Vilnius?
More learning opportunities for young people
So far, Vilnius has 1,069 non-formal learning programmes offered by 358 service providers. Luckily for Lithuanian youth, all these opportunities can be found on a single website– https://www.neformalusugdymas.lt/.
“The website offers different non-formal education services and helps young people to find different groups, youth clubs, camps and volunteering activities that they may find interesting. Not only does it provide the descriptions of the services offered, but also an interactive map to help parents and young people find education opportunities based on their place of residence, favourite activities and other criteria. We are very happy to share our experience with other European Union countries and contribute to increase of learning opportunities for young people,” says a representative of Vilnius City Municipality, Department of Youth Affairs.
The mobilisation of all non-formal education services into a single digital platform and an interactive map are among the best practices for the foreign guests to take back home.
“We are from the Centre region of France. Our region has over 300,000 young people aged 15 to 24, but unfortunately we do not have a platform like yours,” says Cyril Boutrou from Centraider, an organisation bringing together over 1,000 non-governmental organisations, public bodies and municipal authorities. According to the youth worker, such a platform in his region in France could help young people to find spaces for self-development, and service providers to find new clients.
Striving to expand the learning boundaries
The main goal of the project is to make the out-of-school learning experiences recognisable, more diverse and easier to access.
“Now, if a person is learning, for example, to make a low-tech robot, she probably knows only one place where she can do it. Having access to a platform of City of Learning, she would be able to find many different activities and places based on her interests, thus expanding the learning boundaries,” says Nerijus Kriaučiūnas, one of the project promoters in Lithuania.
Within two years, the project aims to create learning maps for 15 European cities and regions, offering a wide range of learning options in a specific location. Different learning opportunities will be interconnected, a young person who wants to learn with a help of this platform will be able to choose from open learning opportunities, and his or her learning achievements will be reflected by earned digital badges.
“People are learning every day and this is happening not only in educational institutions. We want to help them capture these experiences by digital recognition badges. Not only do they help people identify and evaluate their experiences, but now, through the participation in some programmes, they can also give additional points during the university admission process,” says Nerijus Kriaučiūnas. These digital badges are an innovation in the non-formal education sector, which has already been applied in Lithuania by Kaunas University of Technology, the Lithuanian National Commission for UNESCO and the Department of Youth Affairs under the Ministry of Social Security and Labour.
Maps of the participating cities and regions are developed based on the good practice of similar platforms in the United States (LRNG Cities of Learning) and the United Kingdom (RSA Cities of Learning). “We want to implement similar solutions in our city. Rotterdam is an open city and young people want innovation. It is important for us to have them actively involved in the development and the use of a learning map,” says Amy van Voorst, who lives in Rotterdam and contributes to the development of a map of learning opportunities in the Netherlands.
During their time in Lithuania, the foreign partners visited the cultural space “Kablys”, the Open Youth Centre “Mes” and the community-operated space “Technariumas”. These places offer interesting learning opportunities that are little known even for the residents of Vilnius.