Global Education Actors in Serbia – Interview with the National Association of Youth Workers
This week Fun Park is bringing you another interview, this time with Bojana Stojkovic from the National Association of Youth Workers (NAPOR). This is an umbrella organisation of 48 members formed in 2009 to ensure the quality of the youth work programme, to standardise and professionalize it, as well as for it to be recognized by young people, institutions who work with young people, the state and the society as a whole.
1. Hi Bojana, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. For starters, can you tell us more about your role in NAPOR and how Global Education relates to your work?
Hello Velimir, and thank you for the invitation. At NAPOR I work as a program coordinator. Aside from coordinating trainings for youth workers and youth leaders, I also keep track of the national, regional and international scene in the domain of youth work, I coordinate some interesting projects and most importantly, we at NAPOR are constantly working on improving our skills and knowledge.
Global Education fits directly into our work as our idea is to create an environment where young people can work on themselves, critically think, be active and participate in decision making processes.
2. As an umbrella organisation which looks after the standards of youth work in the Republic of Serbia, you are thoroughly familiar with the principles which form the basis of youth work. Surely then you must have recognized that similar principles are found in the basis of Global Education – how do you see the relationship between these two approaches?
Global Education can act as a bridge between formal and nonformal education. Youth work and Global Education both encompass a wide spectrum of topics which are needed to understand the world we’re living in and to actively work with the goal of creating a better future.
The difference is in the target demographic. Youth work engages young people, whereas Global Education reaches even younger generations. Youth work in a way continues the story of young people outside of a formal framework (school) and gives the opportunity for inclusion of youth from various sensitive social groups and youth who are not part of the formal education system.
This means that with combined strengths we can gather young people from different groups and offer them a space for creating a society which is based on solidarity, respecting human rights and democracy.
3. Do you think Global Education should be recognized as a pedagogical approach to education which is similar to youth work when it comes to their basic principles, and should it be popularized among organisations engaged in youth work? In what ways would it be of use for youth work practitioners?
When it comes to Global Education, it should definitely be more promoted and civil society organisations should be more included. Even if the concept itself is known, we should work on including organisations in activities and enable for this idea to be brought to the local level.
Likewise, connecting youth work and Global Education allows for intersectoral cooperation which creates a prerequisite for further creating a systemic solution with which young people could be able to attain skills and knowledge, critically think, act and shape their future.
On the other hand, if we take into account that GE „encompasses development education, human rights education, education for sustainability, education for peace and conflict prevention and intercultural education, as well as that it has global dimension of education for citizenship“, it’s important in the context we’re living in, as well as for the process of reconciliation in the region.
4. The purpose of both youth work and Global Education intersects when it comes to the personal and social growth of young people. Does Global Education in that sense offer some innovation, addition or a specific focus which would in the end lead to better support for young people?
Continuous work with young people is something that is very important to us in the youth work field. On the other hand, GE offers a large number of activities and gathers a larger number of youths who are learning about a variety of topics. So, it’s not necessarily a continuous work, which is in a way their most basic differentiator.
That aside, I do think there is potential for their linkage as they have similar goals and employ similar methods. Likewise, the topics GE touches upon are the same or are similar as in youth work, so there are connections there as well, but we should keep in mind that youth work has a larger focus and offers support for the development of individuals.
5. So far we have talked youth work and Global Education as forms of nonformal education, however GE has for its goal to transform formal education as well. That is a much different challenge and requires the good will of an entire society to properly realize – what role could NAPOR and other civil society organisations play in this process?
NAPOR can of course offer its expertise in creating public policies, concepts and curriculums. On the other hand, it can help promote the GE concept among its members, youth leaders and youth workers. What is important is that civil society organisations can lower all of this on a local level and reach a far greater number of young people from different social groups.
6. The Ministry of Youth and Sports in cooperation with the Center for Youth Workv is working on furthering the formation of a national network of Global Education actors. Do you think it would be of use for youth organisations to join this netowrk and recongise the Global Education methodology?
Naturally, the civil sector should be part of this effort. We should gather as many actors as possible and create a network on the national level which would further create a framework within which GE will be able to develop.
7. NAPOR participated in the regional seminar for Global Education in 2019 in Podgorica, where repressentatives of the public and civil sectors from all over the Balkans gathered with the goal of developing regional cooperation and improving the implementation of GE. In what ways can being part of the wider Global Education Network, which numbers 21 member states, be of use?
Yes, indeed I was part of the team that repressented NAPOR at the regional seminar in question. It was quite inspiring to be part of that seminar, to hear what’s happeing on the regional but also on the global level. For us, being part of the Network is significant when it comes to exchaging useful information about youth work, harmonizing youth work in the region, as well as for cooperating with other actors with the goal of creating system solutions for caring for the youth and for creating a space for their expression.
8. Global Education Week is being organized this year once more, and it will be held in November between the 16th and 22nd. It’s a week during which all 21 member states, and actors within them, will organise a wide range of activities whose goal will be to raise awareness about Global Education. What role could NAPOR play during the Week and are you at liberty to share with us your plans?
We are currently in the process of designing and we’re still not sure what will exactly happen, given the situation with COVID-19. As soon as we have concrete plan of activities, it will be made widely available and promoted through our channels of communication.