30 October, 2011

MaS in the spotlight, in retrospect

An interesting concept: a national conference, also accessible to international guests by developing concurrently an international programme in English . The focus was on civic internships, or service learning, MaS (maatschappelijke stage)for short in Dutch, a recent development in the Netherlands. It was one of a series of activities held within the programme of the NL tour of the European Year of Volunteering.
A tour organised to provide volunteers with an opportunity to exhibit their achievements, meet one another, share their concerns with citizens and convey their energy and enthusiasm and discuss key issues for the future of volunteers.
But what is MaS ? This was how it was explained to the international audience: a mandatory 30 hour school-based (community) service for all secondary education students (12 - 18 years), regulated by Dutch law. It's often NGO's which offer these civic internships to students, 195,000 all in all, from around 650 schools ( head locations) and 1950 sublocations. A quick calculation leads to 6 million hours of service done each year !

Many fine examples and achievements were demonstrated and discussed in separate rooms for the many (Dutch) participants ranging from students and teachers to internship agents and non-profit organizations.
The international guests could listen to talks from Spain, Germany, Croatia and the Unites States, showing a rich caleidoscope of examples of how service learning is implemented in their countries and the way it was developed.
Intriguing question for discussion afterwards was: what was the spark for the beginning of the initiative to get service learning on its way ? was it a volunteering starting point or an educational one ? Responses amounted to partial answers and comments but no clear comparisons, nor definitive conclusions. This highly informative part of the programme ended with an appeal to keep on examining, documenting and researching how service learning is developing.

07 October, 2011

EDDILI drawing to a close

Cyprus was the venue for the fifth and final meeting of the EDDILI project, a European project co-funded under the Grundtvig Multilateral Projects programme.
Following the dissemination and exploitation seminars over the past months and the launching of the R M A manual, the EDDILI consortium discussed ongoing issues and the final report, to round off with an overall evaluation of the outcomes and working process.

Over the course of the two-day meeting, there were also workshops and presentations exploring once more the many facets of R M A and creating a broad survey of RMA applications within diverse European settings. Moreover, work was also done on a valorisation product in the group of adult learning professionals.
The event took place at the University of Nicosia and aimed (among other things) to help the further development of relationships among adult learning professionals at a European level and lay the foundations of a sustainable (virtual) network.
As part of the final get-together of the consortium, an international seminar open to the general public took place on Friday afternoon, October 7th. It was organized in order to reach a wide audience of academics, practitioners and enthusiasts of adult education, both local and international. This seminar created a platform for showcasing how R M A can be applied in a diversity of settings and stimulating the exchange of ideas with other (European) adult learning professionals, besides evoking further interest in the R M A method.

As in all (EU) projects drawing to a close, the time had come to say the final goodbyes and travel back home with some unique mementos and ... a clear overview of the final tasks yet to completed.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This blog post reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained herein.

Here's the manual, without the front and back cover pages.