When dealing with youth work, having enough knowledge about the right practices is crucial. The aim of this section is to help you acquire this information.

Role and Mindset as a facilitator

Every event needs a facilitator. And facilitators actually have the crucial role in how the process is going, how to assure a safe space, how to establish a learning environment, where discomfort is turned into inspiration  and raising the understanding of one another.


Facilitation in a team is always a new experience – every facilitator brings in not only their facilitation style, but also a package of methods, concepts and a full range of previous personal experience. When facilitating an international team, this cooperation can be even more enriching but also challenging – the diverse formations and local contexts are added to the full mosaic of diversities.


There are several challenges faced. First, we confront ourselves with different working styles, while some facilitators feel more comfortable having everything planned in detail beforehand, others prefer to draft the content of each day and only fill it with content while in situ, seeing the development of the group process. This may become a difficulty while having a team that is working in a nonhierarchical structure and where diverse planning needs are represented.


Something also worth keeping in mind is that when dealing with an international group besides the different languages you will also encounter different levels of english, so it becomes essential to speak clearly to be mindful with high level vocabulary.


As we encountered these situations, the key is the need for transparency. Knowing each other as people or from different working contexts does not simply mean that while doing a planning and facilitation work together, the cooperation will work as expected. Before the planning process starts, it is good to take some time for the team. In this time together, people should be given space to express which working style fits them the best, if they can adapt to different working styles of other team members and which level of English they are comfortable with. This quality time in the beginning of the cooperation will definitely help avoiding the frustration and possible confrontations, which might come up later on in the process, and help everyone to have a clear understanding of each other, facilitating communication.


Working with a diverse group, facilitators should be attentive to various power relations which might influence the interaction between facilitators and the group and which also play a role in interactions among the participants. These complexities are often something that comes from “the outside” and what we cannot really influence. However, we are part of these structures and they should not be disregarded – especially if we want to create a space where people feel empowered to engage and contribute. One possible way to create sensitivity to these power relations is transparency.


This transparency and openness should first come from the facilitators – especially working with social justice issues – the facilitator should be able to present not only themselves with their professional experience, but should also be able to present the lens which shaped their worldview and additionally to this, be conscious and articulated in what might be their possible blind spots while facilitating.


In general terms, facilitating in an international and diverse context is always an experience which can often be shaped with challenges. However, it brings very important learnings and develops the facilitator’s skills for future work.


Facilitating group dialogue

Youth work often brings together different people with diverse opinions and backgrounds. Group decisions may take a long time and be problematic due to clashes of ideas. That is when the group leader should play the role of the facilitator in order to help to make the decision-process both more effective and successful.


Moreover, facilitation may be applied while exploring the topic in depth, or sharing a wide range of life experiences. For all these purposes various methods of group dialogue facilitation are used.


In INEX’s workcamps, your youthworkers have reached the following rules that a facilitator should follow when selecting an appropriate method

  • Have a clear understanding of the dialogue goals,
  • The discussion should follow the track of the topic
  • Each participant should be involved in the dialogue.

The facilitator explores the needs of the group beforehand and makes sure that every participant, who wants to speak, will have an opportunity to express themselves.


For this purpose, we concluded that the two types of communication (asymmetric and symmetric) should always be taken on account. In asymmetric communication a facilitator sets himself outside from the participants. They are directive and give instructions to the others. It’s often used in formal education. When it comes to symmetric communication, the participants matter and reflect their needs thus they take active part in the learning process. This means that the facilitator is a part of the group – a common feature of non-formal education. Part of being a facilitator is analyzing what your group needs and adapting your communication methods to it.


Who are my participants?

There is no need for any special expertise or skills to take action, when young people feel concerned about an issue, they will want to do something, and the process of trying things out, reflecting, adapting and trying again is itself a process of learning – and a success in itself. The task for youth workers and educators is to provide support in this process, to offer information, if necessary, and to create space for young people to explore the issues and exchange ideas and views.


Start from where your group is at. Allow them to pick the issue they want to work on, according to what worries them most or where they feel they can make a difference. You could begin with one of the activities to provoke their interest and give them some ideas to work with; or you could simply engage in a brainstorm, using their existing knowledge to inform the choice they make.


We at INEX see three important steps:

  1. To look at motivations and expectations that volunteers have, so that the preparation can be adapted to the needs of the volunteers.
  2. Be aware of the global historical, political and economic contexts from wherever their project might take place
  3. To critically and empathically talk about individual sensitive issues participants might face.

Being empathetic with your paticipants

It is important to be emphatic and sensitive towards everyone in the group, understand that everyone has their own different background and you should be aware of some sensitive topics.


Part of understanding the project you are working on means understanding the context in which it takes place. It means to understand stereotypes, shared concepts of the world, power structures and where they come from. Very important in this context is colonial history, but also the global economic system that came out of it. We also talk about travel privilege in a global context in this chapter.


Even before the start of the project, issues perceived as sensitive or controversial should be brought up. Is fundamental to give the participants a differentiated picture of issues they might face or expect to face on an individual level.


One important topic is race, racism and whiteness: What does it mean to be “white”, in a local and a global context, and what are the differences to what we perceive as “black”? It is important to make the participants reflect on race in the preparation. Racism stems from Colonial History. European colonists created a hierarchy among humanity, using “science” to justify it. Racism didn’t end with colonialism, but continues as a system of oppression that still divides people into those who have colonised and those who have been colonised. The structural implementation of racism today is widespread and happens often unconsciously. People with European coloniser traits are considered “white”, while people with traits that are assigned to the former colonies are considered as the “others”, as people of colour (e.g. “black”). White people were considered superior in power, knowledge and basically every aspect. This was used as a means to justify the use of violence over those people they abused, enslaved, exploited and colonised.


Preparing for a project and evaluating with your participants have the same essential importance in ensuring that a participant will grow during and from their experience. The learning process is not complete without an intense evaluation and reflection. Therefore we recommend making evaluation meetings mandatory, this meeting, when facilitated well, will give participants the opportunity to reflect on the experience. It is also an opportunity to reflect again about the content of the preparation training, which might have seemed theoretical for volunteers before leaving for the exchange and now after the experience can be understood in a better way.


Terminology in inclusion

Is important to differentiate the  terminology in the field of inclusion. We found that understanding the basic terminology motivates the participants and yourself to attempt inclusion as a developing process in international projects.


Miller and Katz (2002) defined inclusion as: “a sense of belonging: feeling respected, valued for  who you are; feeling a level of supportive energy and commitment from others so that you can  do your best.” It is about valuing all individuals, giving equal access and opportunity to all and  removing discrimination and other barriers to involvement.


Equality vs Equity: The difference between these two terms is often explained with an image of three individuals of  different heights who are attempting to peer over a fence. In order to treat them equally, they  would all be given the same size box to stand on to improve their lines of sight. However, doing  so wouldn’t necessarily help the shortest person see as well as the tallest person. In order to  give equitable treatment, each person would need to be given a box to stand on that would  enable a clear view over the fence.


Integration: Synonymous with “combining, blending, fusing” – means grouping all individuals  together.


Marginalisation/ Exclusion: The process whereby something or someone is pushed to the edge of  a group and accorded lesser importance. This is predominantly a social phenomenon by which a  minority or sub-group is excluded, and their needs or desires ignored.


Separation/ Segregation: This literally means “setting apart” – or separating individuals. Social inclusion – Accommodating for all individual’s needs without restrictions or limitations.


Participants with fewer opportunities

In order to be sensible and equal among all participants it is fundamental to consider the approach to participants with fewer opportunities. You have to consider the social, economic and geographical obstacles they might have gone through, disabilities they might have, their educational difficulties and cultural differences. To help you identify and keep these always in mind, some example are listed below:


Social obstacles

  • young people facing discrimination because of gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability, etc.
  • young people with limited social skills or anti-social or risky sexual behaviours • young people in a precarious situation
  • (ex)offenders, (ex)drug or alcohol abusers
  • young and/or single parents; orphans
  • young people from broken families

Economic obstacles

  • young people with a low standard of living, low income, dependence on social welfare system
  • in long-term unemployment or poverty
  • young people who are homeless, young people with financial problems.


  • mental (intellectual, cognitive, learning)
  • physical, sensory
  • other disabilities

Educational difficulties

  • young people with learning difficulties
  • early school-leavers and school dropouts
  • people with less formal qualifications
  • young people with poor school performance

Cultural differences

  • young immigrants or refugees or descendants from immigrant or refugee families • young people belonging to a national or ethnic minority
  • young people with linguistic adaptation and cultural inclusion problems • Health problems
  • young people with chronic health problems, severe illnesses or psychiatric conditions
  • young people with mental health problems

Geographical obstacles

  • young people from remote or rural areas
  • young people living on small islands or peripheral regions
  • young people from urban problem zones
  • young people from less serviced areas (limited public transport, poor facilities, abandoned villages)

Source:  Inclusion and Diversity Strategy by Erasmus + Programme in 23 languages:

Defining the goal in order to find the best approach

If you’re not sure where you’re going, you’re liable to end up someplace else. (Robert F. Mager)

Clearly defining the goals of an educational event will make it easier to develop the content and choose appropriate activities. It’s important to establish goals for the event as a whole ,as well for each individual learning step.

The general competency areas described in the German Curriculum Framework Education for Sustainable Development provide a useful framework for defining goals: The bullet points are inspired by the Austrian Guideline for Teaching Global Citizenship Education.

Recognising: Participants have gained knowledge about global issues.

  • Discovering the global in the local
  • Understanding the origins of the amenities in our everyday lives: food, energy, electronic devices, clothing …
  • Understanding reasons for migration and flight
  • Understanding the global aspects of occupational fields
  • Understanding the historical dimensions of the current world order
  • Understanding the global effects of local actions and decisions
  • Understanding the Sustainable Development Goals

Assessing: Participants are able to reflect upon different values, perspectives and living conditions and to examine the global consequences of their own actions.

  • Reflecting upon one’s position in the world and that of others, for example of young people in the global South
  • Confronting one’s own prejudices
  • Gaining a comprehensive understanding of racism
  • Understanding the global environmental impact of lifestyle decisions
  • Identifying and analysing the local and global impacts of global issues
  • Understanding of the Sustainable Development Goals
  • Recognizing one own worldview
  • Analysing alternative concepts of a good life for all such as Buen Vivir, Ubuntu and the “Doughnut Economy”
  • Ethical reflections

Acting: Young people are empowered to take part in the creation of a more sustainable world and become active as global citizens.

  • Knowing the value of one’s own rights and the rights of others, and learning how to defend them
  • Learning civil courage and how to take civic action
  • Communication, empathy and the ability to engage in debate and handle conflict
  • Self-reflection
  • Learning to stand one’s own ground
  • Skills for creating a just and democratic culture in youth organisations
  • Skills for making one’s own environment more ecologically sustainable

Acquiring competencies is a step-by -step, long term process and the result of the interaction of many different learning activities. A single educational event will focus on specific competencies. The goals of a workshop on the topic of cell phones, for example could be:

Knowledge: The participants are familiar with exemplary issues in the production and disposal chains of cell phones, and understand the hardships  for the workers involved and the consequences for the environment.

Personal skills: The participants can assess the global impact of their cell phone purchases and evaluate them ethically and morally.

Social competency: The participants are able to formulate their views on cell phone production and use, and to discuss them in a constructive manner.

Taking a stance: Participants are motivated to find personal options for fairer or more sustainable cell phone use, and to stand up for more just and humane working conditions and safer environmental practices in the electronics industry.

Participants share common goals of the project, which are clearly explained to them at the beginning. In INEX’s workcamps we say that these goals should be SMART(ER):

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Achievable

R – Realistic

T – Time based

(E – Entertaining)

(R – Reliable/Relevant)


The Golden Circle

The Golden Circle: This is a visual representation of The Golden Circle, in the out circle you have the “WHAT” (Every organisation knows what they do, these are their projects and actions.), and in the middle is the “HOW” (Some organisations know how they do it, these are the things that makes them able to achieve their goals and make a change). And in the inner circle, representing the crucial point, there is the “WHY” (Very few organisations know why they do what they do, why is a purpose, it’s the very reason your project or organisation exists”)

You can apply the “Golden Circle model”, created by the leadership expert Simon Sinek to best define the goals. This, initially business, idea can be also used to best match the principals of the organisation to the ones you are going to create with your participants. And is also a create toll to focus on what matter

This way you can create your project’s goals following the same, or similar, WHYs HOWs and WHATs. As a result you are going to find the best approach for your project under the same guidelines of the organisation, and have effective goals set. As an example, for the I-YES platform we created our “Golden Circle” under the principles of all the organizations that worked on it, this way we had a reliable approach for everyone. In this case your WHY was “We want less inequality in society”, the HOW was “By teaching about these aspects” and WHAT “we create the tool I-YES for youth”.

Methodology of/in informal youth work

Attitudes towards learning are beginning to change. Now we know that learning takes place  throughout our lives and a large amount of our learning does not take place only inside the  formal education system but also in other contexts. There is a need for a different approach to  learning and moving away from the traditional emphasis on diplomas or degrees to a new view  of learning as a lifelong process with an emphasis on the development of competences.


In accordance with international studies, ‘competence’ is defined here as a combination of knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to a particular situation. Knowledge is the  theoretical or practical understanding of a topic. It is, then, the understanding and acquisition  of information. Skills are the application of theory and hands-on practical tasks. The repetition of practices creates permanent connections in the brain that allow us to do things in a more  automatic way. Therefore, skills represent the ability to perform a task. Attitudes represent  internal drivers of behaviour (values, motivation, beliefs, …)


The work we do with young people is designed to contribute in some way to increasing an  individual’s knowledge, contributing to their skills or improving their attitudes. This, in essence,  is developing competences. In order to structure understanding of competences and apply them  in our work, the European Commission and Erasmus+ developed and established 8 key competences  with the aim to support personal fulfilment, social inclusion, active citizenship and employability.


Key competences

Us at INEX found that there are some key competences that can be used as a basis to develop a strong methodology for the youth informal work. Key competences are those that support our personal fulfilment, social inclusion, active citizenship and employment, and applying those competences when deleaing with is very efficiente.

  1. Communication in the mother tongue

Communication in the mother tongue is our ability to express thoughts, feelings and facts both  orally or in writing (listening, speaking, reading and writing), and to interact with other people  in an appropriate way in education and training, work, home and leisure. 

  1. Communication in foreign languages

Communication in a foreign language is closely linked to communication in our mother tongue:  it is based on the ability to understand and express thoughts, feelings and facts orally or in  writing at work, home, leisure, education and training — according to our wants or needs.  Communication in foreign languages also calls for skills such as mediation and intercultural  understanding.

  1. Mathematical competence and basic competences in science and technology

Mathematical competence is our ability to use addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and  ratios in mental and written arithmetic to solve a range of problems in everyday situations.  Process and activity is as important as the knowledge itself. 

  1. Digital competence

Digital competence involves the confident and critical use of Information Society Technology  (IST) for work, leisure and communication. It is underpinned by basic skills: the use of computers  to retrieve, assess, store, produce, present and exchange information, and to communicate and  participate in collaborative networks via the Internet.

  1. Learning to learn

Learning to learn is the ability to organise our own learning. It includes effective management of  time and information, both for ourselves and in groups. We should also be aware of our learning  process and needs and identify different opportunities available to learn. It means gaining,  processing and assimilating new knowledge and skills as well as seeking and making use of  guidance. Learning to learn encourages us to build on prior learning and life experience.

  1. Social and civic competences

These competences might be the most important ones for the youth field. Many of them can  be acquired by active engagement in any kind of youth work or volunteering. They cover all  forms of behaviour we might need to participate effectively in our social and working lives.  Competences connected to a social context become more important as societies are more diverse  now; they can help us to resolve conflicts where necessary. Civic competence equips us to fully  participate in civic life, based on knowledge of social and political concepts and structures and  a commitment to active and democratic participation.

  1. Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship

These competences refer to our ability to turn ideas into action which is particularly important  for youth work and youth initiatives. It includes creativity, innovation and risk taking, as well as  the ability to plan and manage projects in order to achieve objectives. 

  1. Cultural awareness and expression

Appreciation of the importance of the creative expression of ideas, experiences and emotions  through a range of media, including music, performing arts, literature, and the visual arts. 

The frame of 8 key competencies can greatly improve the results of our work with fewer opportunities for young people if we take the time to focus more consciously on learning and if we  find ways to structure the development of competences. It can be used as a good starting point.

(5) Intern

International Youth work: what is it about?

There is no internationally agreed definition of youth work or its outcomes, and there are various methods and models of youth work. Some of these include:

  • recreational;
  • personal development;
  • critical social education;
  • radical social change.

Youth workers often engage young people with issues such as citizenship, interdependence, diversity, intercultural dialogue and learning, social issues and sustainability, all with a view to affecting the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes which govern how people interact with the world around them. These issues are all closely related to sustainability, and anyone working to explore them with young people is already engaging in education for sustainability!

It's a cartoonish representation of what a youth worker's DNA would have. That includes things like “community”, ”fun”, “think ahead”, “awareness” and so on.

Youth work has a long tradition of supporting young people’s understanding of the world around them and promoting such values as justice and equality.

When dealing with an international context it is fundamental to grant importance to the access to information, since it contributes to education in a creative context. It develops a community approach by valorising know hows at a local scale while remaining open to listen and learn from exterior voices.

The Youth Work should emphasise the cultural peculiarities and the local knowledge for the education of the young people and the adults. For example, with writing being quite recent in most African communities, the oral communication was a vector of knowledge transmission between generations. Through tales and songs, messages were and still are carried. With the development of technologies of the information. This oral tradition tends to disappear and is important to work for the valorisation of storytelling and singing skills in these communities.

The educational approaches shouldn’t stand outside the sociohistorical context within which we are situated. One debate that should always be brought up is the background of the participants, their experience may be fundamentally different, and they can contribute to the project using and valorizing these other perspectives. In this way, participants’ backgrounds and positionalities deeply affect what will count as ‘learning’ to them, this points out the need to be attentive to social heterogeneities in the construction of the activities.

There are continuing debates about the use of the terms “social justice” versus “social transformation”, and “decolonisation” versus “transformation”. Some facilitators have felt uncomfortable with facilitating discussions around certain topics, feeling it is not their place to do so, or that they do not have enough experience. There are also broader discussions about what it would mean to claim some of the concepts extolled by the protest movements (such as decolonisation, intersectionality, and so on) in our own work, as well as the complexities around making our work “palatable” and to students, funders, and other parties and institutes who may not share such radical views. Recognising your limits as facilitators visàvis these issues is an important step when talking about International Youth Work, having this in mind is key to prioritise deliberation, critical thinking, and active listening.

Values as a Youth Worker

In INEX’s project “Youth Worker 2.0” your volunteers defined that values are absolutely central to their work as Youth Workers. Values are what guides our decisions, our activities and how we face complicated situations. Youth Work has very different histories in different European countries, but over the past years there have been attempts to try to define the values behind Youth Work and non-formal learning on a European level.

Taking in account the variety of contexts it becomes obvious that the participants will have different opinions and priorities. Not everybody will agree on the same values. We yourselves see that on a daily basis while working as an organization, but within which organisation it is crucial that workers seek to live up to the values defined and, mostly important, their own.

Non-formal education
Learning in general can be defined as a long-term process that changes and influences your knowledge, skills and attitudes. Modern European educational terminology divides learning into  three categories: formal, non-formal and informal learning. Formal education takes place in the school environment – the situation is planned and  purposeful. It’s typically focused on knowledge. In contrast, informal learning happens in  everyday situations. It is the Saturdays that you hang with your friends or the evenings that  you spend with your parents or family. It is something that is educational and your values might  change but the results may be only apparent much later. Somewhere between those two is non-formal learning. It happens or takes place in different  situations and environments. It is purposeful and should be planned like formal education, but  it is focused on all components of competences. It is more flexible and available for everyone.  And most importantly it should happen voluntarily. Non-formal education can be both social and individual learning. It is something that can take  place as part of extracurricular activities or subjects where you use active and interactive study  methods. Also, it is a process where the learner is in the driving seat – for example, choosing to  learn to play guitar through viewing YouTube tutorials. There is potential for these different kinds of learning to be combined. There is great potential  for something that is set by the national curriculum, but is also more flexible and innovative,  like the non-formal learning process.

Global Non-formal Education

The Global Education Network of Young Europeans (GLEN) defines global education as a creative approach of bringing about positive change in society, based on solidarity, equality, inclusion and cooperation. A learning process that motivates and empowers young people to become active, responsible global citizens by reflecting on their own roles in the world. Global education in GLEN follows an approach combining the three elements of “head” (reflection and analysis); “heart” (emotions linked to personal experience) and “hand” (activism). GLEN considers global education as the most powerful tool to build a responsible, tolerant and inclusive next generation of European society, and through that, to build global connections based on cooperation, instead of patriarchal helping structures. Non-formal education should always allow for inclusivity because of the different ways in which teaching occurs, participants can either contribute physically, emotionally or intellectually. It opens up a space that allows you to engage social issues with your body, mind and heart as opposed to the usual way of teaching and learning that allows one to engage only their mind or intellect and in ways where there are clear holders of knowledge and receivers of knowledge. With these approaches, everyone is both a holder and a receiver of knowledge. One’s lived experience is a valid source of knowledge worthy of being considered. These approaches are useful and recognize the ‘heart’ work or ‘feeling’ work that is required in order to make meaningful contributions to changes in our societies. It recognizes the emotional labour that goes into civil organisation and social justice education that goes beyond logical/ practical implementations of projects, budgets, reports, lesson plans and so on. These approaches also require and encourage personal reflection, showing us that in order to achieve these big plans in our organisations, we need to recognize that we cannot divorce our positionalities and our backgrounds from the work that we do, instead, we need to constantly reflect on how our bodies, experiences shape the spaces we aim to change.

List of Quality Indicators in Non-Formal Learning

How to recognize quality when talking about non-formal learning activities? The European  Youth Forum has developed a Manual of Quality Assurance in such activities based on a peer  review approach. For your inspiration, here is the list of 11 indicators they came up with:
  1. The assessed needs of learners & society and the mission & values of the organisation are translated into objectives.
  2. The objectives are reflected in the Non-Formal Education scheme .
  3. The educational methodology selected is suitable for the learning process.
  4. The necessary resources are available.
  5. Resources are used in a sustainable, cost effective and responsible way.
  6. Educators have the necessary competences.
  7. Educators are prepared.
  8. The communication between all actors is managed effectively.
  9. Learners influence their learning process.
  10. Learners understand their learning outcomes and can transfer them.
  11. All actors are involved in the continuous evaluation process
In INEX we use some quality indicators to make sure we are providing non-formal education activities. It is important to have in mind some of them while analizing your own activities anD while making sure your organization provides tehm. Some of those quality indicators might be:
  1. The assessed needs of learners and society and the mission and values of the organisation are translated into objectives. For example, if an organisation has inclusion as a value, then they would have objectives which match, such as: ensuring participants with a disability are supported to feel equal and involved within the project.
  2. The objectives are clearly defined, adjusted to participants needs and co-created with them.
  3. The educational methodology selected is suitable for the learning process
  4. The necessary learning resources are available
  5. Resources are used in a sustainable cost effective and responsible way
  6. Educators, trainers, volunteers, facilitators have the necessary competencies and are prepared
  7. Communication between all actors is managed effectively
  8. Learners influence their learning process
  9. Learners understand their learning outcomes and transfer them
  10. All actors are involved in continuous evaluation process

Educational Approaches

Formal Non-Formal Informal
Usually focused on knowledge Usually focused on knowledge, skills, attitudes & values Is accidental, unguided, and unconscious
Mistakes are punished Mistakes are welcome as opportunities to learn Mistakes are welcome as opportunities to learn
Teacher as an authority Youth worker as a mentor No mentor
Happens in school Happens anywhere Happens anywhere
Has targets & objectives Has targets & objectives No objectives

Settings for activities

Formal Non-Formal Informal
Schools – classrooms, sport halls Community centers Streets
Universities, auditoriums Youth clubs Festivals, fiestas
Companies Libraries Shopping centres
Exhibition halls NGO workplaces parks and public spaces
Has targets & objectives Has targets & objectives No objectives
Organisational framework (whole institution approach)

To achieve an elevated innovative power “learning location” should work integrated, considering sustainability as a whole institution into account. If a place of learning, for example a school or an association, follows a whole institution approach, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is not just a cross-cutting topic in the classroom – the learning processes and methods are also geared towards this goal.


ESD is a visual of an ideal education, it believes that by giving the learner the knowledge, promoting their skills, attitudes and values they will voluntarily become socially responsible citizens. The ESD goal is to create a fairer and more sustainable world together.


For this matter, the place of learning should orient the management of its own institution to the principles of sustainability, for example, in that learners, teachers and administrative staff use energy and resources consciously, cultivate a school garden or prefer regional and fairly produced organic products for catering. This also includes further training measures for teachers but also for administrative staff and the involvement of everyone in decision-making processes. Learning locations with an integrated approach also cooperate with the municipal administration and other partners such as sports or migrant clubs.


The place of learning should not only be the school but count with the whole society to contribute to the development of sustainability and constructing a better world. What makes it extremely important to consider this ideal of “Whole Institution Approach”  outside of basic learning places and use it when considering the organisation framework of the NGO or institutions that want to take part in this path.


The VENRO quality criteria

The VENRO quality criteria were developed in 2011/2012 as guidelines for practitioners of development education in a participatory process. Since then, they have been used as a basic document to provide orientation and assistance in the conception, implementation and evaluation of development education programmes. This is some of what this document discusses when defining the quality of planning and organisation.


The careful preparation of educational offers forms the basis for their effectiveness. The conception and implementation of educational offers strongly depend on their framework  conditions. It makes a difference under which educational policy guidelines, with which  funding possibilities, in which educational contexts, for example within the framework of  formal or non-formal education, an offer is set to take place. The regional location, i.e.  whether the offer takes place in an urban or rural context with many or few local educational  offers, plays a role as well.


Therefore, a good analysis of the learning environment contributes significantly to the  successful implementation of the educational offer. The better it is adapted to the context  and needs of the target group, the better the realities of the offering NGO and possible  cooperation partners are taken into account, the clearer the objectives are formulated, the  more carefully the topic, learning environment, methodology and trainers are selected, the  more likely it is that the offer will have an impact and will be accepted by the participants.


A careful follow-up to check whether the intended goals have been achieved is  indispensable both for transparency vis-à-vis funding bodies and for the further development  of one’s own offers.


Political Context: The educational programme moves in the context of political and social discourses. It establishes a reference to international, national and regional programmes and strategies – for example, to the 2030 agenda, the orientation framework for Global Development Education, sustainability strategies and alike. A critical examination of the educational offer with the reference frameworks takes place in order to create space for innovative impulses of the educational work, for example from the Global South which have not yet been taken into account in the reference frameworks.


What references do we draw to international or national strategies and (educational) programmes? What are the regional and institutional framework conditions for education, especially developmental ones?


Goals and effects: The positive changes to be achieved through the offer as well as the benefits for the target groups are clearly defined as objectives. The organisational framework conditions, assessments regarding the target groups, the duration of the measure(s) and its format are taken into account. Different types of measures work on different levels and achieve different goals. Clearly formulated objectives and impacts form the basis for developing indicators.


What should the project achieve in the short and medium term? What impacts – along the impact dimensions – are the aim? Which goals seem realistically achievable? Which competencies are to be developed?


Demand: When deciding to implement the project and during the preparatory phase, the needs for the planned offer are assessed. If different needs are identified, they may be prioritised.


What interest is there related to the educational offer? What educational offers already exist in the segment for which the educational offer is planned?


Realities of the NGO: The size, human and financial resources and organisational structure of the NGO offering education are taken into account when designing and implementing education programmes. The type and scope of the educational offer, its innovative content, compliance with quality standards and methods of evaluation or self-evaluation are adapted to the circumstances of the NGO.


Are funds, infrastructure and networks available, and if so, which ones? Does the training offered relate to the NGO’s mission statement? What possibilities in terms of innovation, breadth and scope of the offer can realistically be implemented with the available resources?


Cooperations: Decisions about cooperation are made consciously during project preparation. They take into account strategic considerations, matching themes, harmonising values of the cooperation partners as well as appropriate learning places and environments, financial, personnel, ideal and infrastructural contributions of the cooperation partners, synergies that can result from the cooperation and the effort for the “maintenance” of the cooperation.


Which potential cooperation partners can enrich the educational offer, for example through diversity, expertise and multiperspectivity? Is it possible to use digital tools to specifically involve cooperation partners, for example southern partners?


Target group(s): Knowledge of the target group forms the basis for the conception of educational offers. It takes into account previous experience, interests, learning needs, expectations of the offer, linguistic, social, cultural heterogeneity, cognitive prerequisites, everyday and experiential worlds as well as access to the target groups. If educational offers are aimed at new target groups, it is helpful to involve experts or actors from the respective groups in the preparation of the offers. In this way, the educational offer can be adapted to the needs of the target group and learn from the target group.


Which target group(s) do we want to reach with our offer? What does the target group expect from participation? Is it possible to flexibly adapt the offer to the needs of the target group?


Learning venues and learning environment: In the planning and preparation of educational programmes, attention is paid not only to the quality of the content and didactics, but also to the learning environment, i.e. learning places, spaces and settings, as these have a decisive influence on the success of the educational programme. The offer is adapted to the geographical location and the social space. Suitable venues and spaces are deliberately selected. The conception of the educational offer also takes into account the design of learning places: a suitable atmosphere is created, materials are selected and designed so that they are, for example, barrier-free and meet the requirements of Inclusion, inclusive education. To ensure learning outcomes, a follow-up of events and educational offers is carried out. Is the offer provided in rural or urban areas? What are the requirements? What criteria do we use to select learning venues – is it a question of costs, accessibility, barrier-free access, sustainability, cooperation, atmosphere, conducive learning environment …? Does the learning environment reflect the demands we convey in our offer in the sense of the Whole Institution Approach?


Teachers, lecturers, trainers: The educational offer is carried out by instructors or trainers who are motivated and competent in terms of content and who act in a pedagogically reflective manner. They have specialist knowledge, pedagogical expertise, language skills, the ability to cooperate, mediation, reflection and inclusion skills. The normative demands of development education work (cf. p. 2), the mission statement of the NGO providing the service and the principles of the Beutelsbach Consensus are observed. The speakers reflect on their own point of view and their own experiences. Care is taken to ensure that the team that designs and implements the educational programmes is diverse. Fair payment of teachers and trainers is guaranteed, unless the trainer explicitly performs the activity on a voluntary basis.


Are the trainers trained in pedagogy and content? Are the trainers able to reflect on their own role in the teaching-learning process and do they see themselves as learners? Do the trainers speak the same language as the participants in terms of wording, pace, complexity, use of foreign words, etc.?


Follow-up within the organisation: An organisational follow-up is carried out in order to critically reflect on the offer, to (self-)evaluate it, to strengthen the future conception and implementation of educational offers as well as organisational learning and to contribute to transparency towards funding bodies. If an evaluation is designed as an impact evaluation, it concentrates on those effects of the project that can be directly achieved by the measure and the share that the project has in the achievement of higher-level goals.


How will the data be evaluated? How is the internal, critical assessment and reflection of the offer or the evaluation results carried out? How can we ensure that these results are incorporated into the conception and planning of future educational programmes?

Relevance of the offer: The connections between content, goals, the analysis of the learning environment, the political context, target groups and cooperation as well as the conception and design of the educational offer are coherent. Challenges in conception and implementation as well as possible contradictions and areas of tension are identified.


To what extent is the educational offer suitable for raising awareness of the global issues addressed? Do the contents as well as the methodological-didactic approaches fit the formulated goals and the needs and prerequisites of the target group

Focus on inclusive nonformal education

“A sense of belonging: feeling respected, valued for who you are; feeling a level of supportive energy and commitment from others so that you can do your best”


Inclusive education means that everyone, regardless of their gender, religion, cultural and social background, or cognitive, physical, and psychological attributes, has the right to equal, barrier-free access to quality education (Definition bezev – Behinderung und Entwicklung e.V.). Young people want to be treated as unique Individuals.


If Global Citizenship Education is to be inclusive, it must be sensitive to  discrimination in its own settings and content. This means paying close attention to choices of images and language, and to whose perspectives are being represented. Inclusive education adapts teaching and learning requirements to the needs of  learners and to the heterogeneity of a group. Each and every person should be able to participate according to their learning level and possibilities. Important goals are:

  • to minimise barriers for all participants and involve them in co-designing learning processes,
  • to recognize diversity as a central principle of educational work, and
  • to see inclusion as an ongoing process which must be renegotiated in every new learning situation.

Facilitators need to ask themselves: Are the methods I am using accessible and stimulating for all participants? Am I paying attention to everyone,  or am I devoting my attention to only one part of the group? How can I adapt my program to address special needs such as auditory or learning disabilities, difficulties with abstraction or visualisation, or visual impairment, and provide a safe learning space for young people with a limited scope for emotional or social interaction?


Inclusive activities will focus on the needs of individuals with and without difficulties, including the following areas:

  • language (understanding, reading, speaking, expressing oneself, writing)
  • abstraction and the understanding of complex correlations
  • concentration
  • Social Interaction.

Inclusive methods and materials are designed to be used in heterogeneous as well as homogeneous groups.


The social climate in youth organisations as well as the attitudes of youth workers and peer groups play a central role in the success of inclusive educational processes. This means that all people should be treated with respect, and the focus is on resources, not on deficits. Individual needs are identified and incorporated into the structure of activities, embracing the individual experiences and contributions of each and every participant.


People who are confronted with limitations often experience that little is expected of them. This can prevent them from developing self-confidence, which in turn can make learning difficult. This vicious circle can be interrupted if education is inclusive.


One of the basic ideas is that a person is not disabled because of individual limitations or qualities, but because of barriers in the social and physical environment. Accordingly, inclusion is about breaking down barriers and shaping society in a way that makes it possible for everyone to participate on equal footing.


Consciously working with fears and prejudices is an important factor for working with young people. It is important for group leaders to be aware of their own prejudices. An open attitude will facilitate an open atmosphere in the group. It is also important to be aware of discriminatory behavior among group members.


Open processes are an important factor in inclusive education. Young people will profit in different ways from the same activity. Some may gain more social and personal competence. For others, it may be an increase in knowledge and vocational competencies, or developing the motivation to become a change agent and ideas for how to go about it.


How to design inclusive activities

There are techniques for the preparation of inclusive activities that we apply at INEX and it might be helpful for you. The first step is to define topics, goals, the target group, and one’s own educational approach.


Inclusive learning focuses on the individual. This involves careful observation of individual young people and their respective potentials and learning needs, and differentiation in the level of language and the complexity of content or tasks. Three principles are central to the planning and implementation of inclusive activities:

  • methodology which actively involves the participants in processes and addresses different ways of learning
  • a clear structure and clarity in terms of content, language, and design
  • flexibility of content, timing, and methods.

Different social forms should address individual learning needs and preferences, including working in small groups as well as individually. Teamwork plays an important role in inclusive education: it enables young people to support and learn from each other and promotes the development of social and personal skills.


Media diversity also opens up various inclusive approaches. Especially when the individual learning needs of young people are very differentiated, methodological and media diversity is key. Ideally, an activity will offer “something for everyone”. When selecting media, care should be taken to ensure that the explanations are as clear and simple as possible, but not oversimplified. Short explanatory films that present a topic in pictures are very suitable.


Pictures should show people with different body shapes, physical abilities, skin colours, and gender identity to make diversity visible and to celebrate it.


Flexibility is an important factor for inclusive learning. Clarity with regard to the central goals and content of the lessons will enable group leaders to make good choices if changes are necessary.


Expressing and discussing emotions should be an integral part of learning processes. Learners should be welcome to express their opinions on the topics of the lessons (“I find mass animal husbandry horrible!”) as well as about group dynamics, or to relate personal experiences with discrimination (“I don’t eat pork because of my religion and I constantly have to justify myself for it.”)


In an inclusive learning setting, it is important to give young people clear feedback and positive encouragement.


To go further on this topic you can read the section “Who are my participants”, that will help you identify the necessities of your group and how to be sensitive about differences. And “Dealing with different backgrounds”, that talks about being an inclusive leader when dealing with the differences and obstacles you might face in a plural culture context.

Digital resources and methodology (connecting experience during COVID)
  1. Tool for self reflexion online
Material improve-handbook IM-PROVE is a simple application accessible on-line (improve.inexsda.cz) or you can also download it in the app store for iOS and Android. Basically, it’s the on-line tool that helps volunteers in different roles (participants, leaders, trainers…) reflect on what they learnt during their volunteering activities. You can have all the volunteering activities recorded here. Intro Video: HOW DOES IT WORK? IM-PROVE works on the basic principle of connecting real-life examples with competences.
  • Step 1 – Sign up on improve.inexsda.cz
  • Step 2 – The application will lead you through filling in your profile
  • Step 3 – You can enter your first project. The app will lead you through it. You basically put some info about the type of project, your role in it, select a few experiences you have already done in the project and put some details to these. After this process, the application will show you, which competences have you developed by these experiences.
  • Step 4 – Then, you can either add other experiences to the same project, add new projects or browse through other functionalities of the application.
This can also help you develop your curriculum! 1. Tools for European youth work and training Useful tools for European Youth Worker Training and Partner-finding https://www.salto-youth.net/tools/ 2. E-Tick: online course on ethical communication As makers and receivers of messages: How to interpret our increasingly image and news saturated world with care and criticality? How to communicate with humility and in ways that make a difference? How to look after ourselves and others? https://ethicalcommunication.org/ 3. What’s Next Platform A 4 stage course for returned development workers and volunteers to explore how they can become active citizens https://whatnextorg.wordpress.com/