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Advancing at constructing safe learning space in non-formal education

Amuka Koridze

Participant of the study session

“Safe space is inclusive, filled with equity and respect with freedom of speech and expression”, - says Weronika from Greece, who participated in a study session about advancing at constructing safe learning space in non-formal education.

The activity named above took place during 1-5 November in Budapest, in European Youth Centre, which hosted 26 participants from different organisations and provided them a space for possible partnership building. The main goal was to increase the quality of non-formal education and human rights education practice. Human Rights Education Youth Network and World Organisation of Scouts Movement, in cooperation with the Youth Department of the Council of Europe gathered trainers, educators and youth workers in this study session to raise awareness, share practices and increase competencies for safe space development.

During the process, participants discussed and shared their understanding of safe space and related concepts in education. They also had the chance to point out existing practices to create and hold safe spaces in educational settings, sharing and valuing different experiences within the field.

"The study session was really concentrated on the topic and everything that surrounded it and it is one. I can say with big confidence that I managed to broaden my knowledge in the field of creating a safe space for people of my organization and I am very excited to put the newly learned techniques and attitude in our organization and share them with the rest of the team", - says Mary-Vanessa, a participant from Armenia.

One of the main challenges during the sessions was to improve the existing non-formal educational methods and examine their ability to ensure safe spaces, which was utterly fulfilled.

“The project helped us to reconsider the spaces and think profoundly about methods we use to encourage participants to speak out. All activities were participant oriented, it was so unexpected and inspiring. I have never felt like a typical participant, but rather as one of the facilitators. The space definitely gave me a chance of self-expression, what is the most valuable achievements”, - says Mikheil, one of the participants from Georgia.

It also has to be mentioned that throughout the week, the facilitators from different organizations engaged participants to create outputs like a shared glossary of relevant terms and a reader with suggestions, guiding questions and indicators to create safe spaces in non-formal education setting. These tools will be a compilation of instruments on creating safe space for exchange, sharing, learning and working individually and in groups.

The latter part of the project enabled participants to sit down with themselves and plan the actions together or individually.

Mary-Vanessa thinks that the diversity of the group was a huge contribution to the learning outcomes. “The reason for that is not only did we manage to speak about safe space, but at the same time we were able to establish it in an environment where so many amazing people gathered together from different cultural backgrounds. Experiencing such a successful study session in every aspect, was a huge pleasure and gave me a real sense of comfort and hope for the future”.

It is noteworthy that the outputs, also the other actions will take various forms according to the local contexts and participants' interests. They are planned to be delivered in the near future.

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