21-26 October in Antwerp, Belgium, during the seminar “Transversal competences for global employment”, a group of 24 volunteers and staff from 15 AFS organisations discussed the issue of recognising learning outcomes of our participants and volunteers, to better capitalise on them in professional life.

We were lucky to include a very wide range of participant profiles – in terms of AFS background and roles, national and organisational realities represented, as well as age and non-AFS experiences. We enjoyed input from several external guests, including representatives of the European Commission, European Youth Forum, Scouts&Guides of Flanders and Flemish Public Employment Agency. Finally, we also got to know a few existing tools for assessment and recognition of Non-Formal Education learning outcomes, used by other organisations and institutions.

The 4-day programme resulted in a number of meaningful conclusions and recommendations, which we hope to spread around the network worldwide. Some of the key thoughts included:

– When defining AFS educational gains, we need to go beyond our official 16 Educational Objectives and certainly way beyond intercultural learning,

– Competences gained though volunteering are equally (if not more) substantial as the ones gained through participating in AFS programmes,

– Much of our AFS vocabulary needs to be “translated” in order to have a real meaning for such external ears as employers, universities or even non-AFS peers,

– Any external recognition of learning outcomes, and particularly in the context of Non-Formal Education, starts with recognition by the learner,

– In competence-based learning and recognition there are many steps that should not be forgotten – from setting learning goals, through continuous reflection and awareness raising, to assessing and documenting learning outcomes;

– If we strive for proper recognition by the external world, we need to put a bit more work into “branding” the organisation and its educational profile.

More detailed outcomes of the seminar will soon be shared in the complete event report.

Many thanks for the success of the seminar go to all the participants who co-created it and in particular to the preparatory team: Viktoria Bedo from AFS Hungary/France, Eliza Popper from AFS Hungary, Ferruccio Fiordispini from AFS Italy and Izabela Jurczik-Arnold from EFIL.

The project has been implemented thanks to the financial support of the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union.

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For more information: [email protected]