YOUTH FORUMAt one of the most important events in the youth policy field during the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union – the Eastern Partnership Youth Forum, which took place on 23-24th October, 2013 in Kaunas – the main attention was devoted to the importance of non-formal education and questions about youth work.

According to the Minister, the EU devotes a lot of attention at the highest level to the promotion of youth employment and integration into the labour market, and much effort is made to help the most vulnerable group of youth – those not in education, employment or training.

“We are proud to have launched the European Alliance for Apprenticeship initiative. We believe it will create more opportunities for youth to gain practical skills in the workplace, and improve the quality of this type of learning. We also see that states show great willingness to introduce Youth Guarantees in practice. All these achievements are really important, and should continue,” A. Pabedinskienė said.

One of the essential goals of the Eastern Partnership Youth Forum was to achieve greater recognition for persons working with youth and non-formal education, especially in the context of social integration, based on cooperation at the international, national, regional and local level.

The aim is also to improve quality and increase the visibility and importance of non-formal education and work with youth, encourage the collection of good practice and its sharing among Eastern partners and EU states. It is also important to reveal opportunities of current youth cooperation, according to the EU “Youth in Action” programme in the field of the Eastern Partnership, and discuss future opportunities that will appear in the EU education, training, youth and sport programme. The main organiser and coordinator of the Eastern Partnership Youth Forum is the Agency of International Youth Cooperation, and the partners are the European Commission, the Ministry of Social Security and Labour, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Youth Forum, SALTO, the British Council, Lithuanian Youth Council, the Youth Affairs Department at MSSL, and others.

The event involved about 200 youth leaders, employees of youth organisations, representatives of youth policy from the EU programme Youth in Action, Norway, Turkey and six Eastern Partnership countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

During the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Lithuania has intended that one of the priorities will be strengthening cooperation with Eastern states. In 2009, the EU officially started cooperation with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, with the goal to encourage the wide implementation of political and economic reforms and help Eastern states get closer to the EU.

On non-formal youth education:

Non-formal youth education is a purposeful activity develops personal, social and educational competences of a young individual, and seeks to develop a conscientious character who can solve his/her problems responsibly and creatively, and actively participate in social life.

Education of conscientiousness requires special scope to perceive oneself and the environment, to take responsibility safely, and test oneself and learn from one’s experience. Such scope cannot be provided by the formal structures (school, family, work) that fulfil other important functions.

Non-formal youth educators can be those with formal or non-formal education with proven competences in working with youth and youth groups.