Lifelong learning as a public good – 5th Festival of Non-formal Education in Belarus

Panel discussion during the festival.

What role can non-formal education play for the benefit of society? This was the leading question of the 5th Festival of Non-formal Education, held in Minsk on December 5-6, 2014. More than 250 practicing experts and theorists of non-formal education from Belarus, Germany, Switzerland, Ukraine, Israel, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Moldova and Uzbekistan gathered for professional intercommunication and experience exchange. They represented over 60 non-governmental organisations, private and state educational organisations. 

The festival was opened with a panel discussion about the key tendencies and prospects of non-formal education development and its importance for society. The focus was put on the role of non-formal education within the general system of education. “In order for a country to have an adequate system of education able to deal with the existing necessities and challenges of society, it is extremely important to build a diverse and full-valued system of both formal and non-formal education”, noted Dmitry Karpievich, Chairman of the Belarusian Association of Lifelong Learning and Enlightenment. Deputy Rector of the Academy of Post-diploma Education, Irina Dziuba, added that “formal and non-formal education should not be opposed to each other, as reaching the necessary standards for state and social development of any civilized country requires coordination of all sectors and educational providers”.

On the first day, thematic sessions were held on the relevant areas of non-formal education development; among them “culture of remembrance in non-formal education”, “non-formal education and its contribution to sustainable development”, “providers of non-formal education and their interaction with mass media”, as well as “standards of the agendas of non-formal education”.

During the second day of the festival, the participants had a choice between 60 master-classes, trainings and presentations. They were able to learn about the possibilities of hippotherapy, try Nordic Walking, learn how to dream with purpose, how to make sure that a father can serve as an organiser of alternative learning within a family, and much more. 

On the initiative of the international enlightening public association “AKT”, a draft for a “law for activities which are of public benefit” was discussed at a roundtable. The participants of the festival could articulate comments and suggestions to the draft that will be made publicly available on the internet.   

At the end of the festival an awards ceremony was held for the winners of the best event in the sphere of non-formal education in Belarus. The winners were selected by an expert jury and internet users. The winners got certificates and prizes from the festival partners. The results of the contest, photos and other materials are available on the, as well as in the Facebook group of the festival.

The festival was organised by the Belarusian Association of Lifelong Learning and Enlightenment, the Representative Office of DVV International in Belarus, and the Belarusian-German joint enterprise “Johannes Rau Minsk International Education Centre”.

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