Situation and Development Perspectives of Non-formal Education for Children
The 2018 analysis of targeted funding programs for non-formal education for children (NFEC), was compiled based on the NFEC system’s monitoring carried out by the National Network of Education NGOs since 2017. According to the data survey, the projected changes in this area are somewhat sluggish, focusing almost exclusively on quantitative rather than qualitative progress in NFEC. Although some measures to increase the diversity and quality of programs have been implemented in recent years, traditional NFEC programs’ inertia remains strong, and the system is still rigid.
The main conclusions:
- Two-thirds of NFEC programs in terms of the number of children attended are designed to meet the needs of sports and self-expression (dance, music, theatre and art). From 0.5 to 5% of children attended programs aimed at developing social and (future) professional competencies, such as citizenship, media, information technology and technical creation.
- Only over 5% of children participated in citizenship programs. This field is dominated by Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union and the Scouts (at least 86% of children attend programs in this field). Despite its importance, citizenship education in NFEC is too limited. The programs offered do not provide diverse opportunities to develop the social competencies of children and young people, which are necessary for their active and conscious participation in the life of society and the state.
- It is probable that precisely due to the limited availability of programs, 17-19-year-old students in 2018 accounted for only over 11% of all children participating in NFEC programs, and this relative indicator has remained almost unchanged since 2016.
- The targeted funding for NFEC in 2019 was lower than expected (€12 million instead of €15 million), so it is likely that the number of children attending NFEC programs will be lower than anticipated. No plans have been made yet as to the sources of NFEC funding for 2020. As the current funding period of the EU Structural Funds is coming to an end, the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports has not yet developed an exit strategy that would ensure the continuity and development of NFEC programs’ implementation, which further increases the risk of not achieving the set indicators.
- Complicated bureaucratic operational and financial reporting requirements do not encourage innovative activities; neither do they promote the emergence of new actors in the NFEC sector.
- The fact that municipalities have set different requirements for the implementers of NFEC programs results in a bureaucratic burden on them. The Ministry of Education, Science and Sports has not changed the procedure for program submission and reporting since the start of 2018.
- There are no opportunities to implement national NFEC projects for children from different municipalities. The requirements of the competition for non-formal education projects, which has been organized for several years, do not encourage such initiatives.
- One-third of the NFEC targeted funding programs’ implementers are still state and municipal institutions.
- There is no supervision of NFEC providers’ registration and accreditation of programs.