of a European Career
Guidance and Transnational Work-Related Exchange Programme for
Disadvantaged Young Adults
A Grundtvig Learning Partnership
Project Start August 2008
EGUIDYA developed transferable strategies and structures to open up and durably manage transnational work-related exchange for socio-economically disadvantaged young adults outside of compulsory education. The specific profiles of the fifteen partners from nine EU member states in North, West, East and South contributed to the project´s wide scope and its impact on institutions and their staff.
The seven meetings´ topics followed the steps from the admission of a learner at an organisation up to a debriefing of her/his work stay abroad.
On the basis of screening and peer mentoring, the partners synchronised a special needs and counselling concept. All partners put emphasis on the interposition of key competences and its influence. The resulting approach is participative, pragmatic and processual.
EGUIDYA established an adaptable model plan of how every institution - with shared methods in planning, sending and hosting - can prepare its learners for transnational mobilities and supervise beneficiaries in its training centres or with cooperating local companies. Both staff and young adults in-situ participated in all programme development stages and reported on the possibilities of individual stays abroad.
By identifying the requirements that can be mastered by the young adults and by planning transnational work stays with them, the learning partnership succeeded in enhancing their motivation and self-confidence. The partnership consolidated the European dimension of adult education at our and similar institutions and fostered interculturality as well as European citizenship among such young adults who otherwise would be more and more at risk of exclusion from progress and development.
in German, Ministerium für Schule und Weiterbildung, North Rhine-Westphalia.
The Opposite of Disadvantagement Is Just Everything Else? – A Non-Scientific Definition
“Never forget that I´m a shepherd and not a sheep.”
(Disadvantaged young man)
We do not like to use the term disadvantaged, because it may provoke a stigma that is not easy to bear for the group(s) in concern. Unfortunately, there is hardly any alternative, if we want to outline the political effect, to which the euphemism “of fewer opportunities” or the term “special needs” does not relate. The latter is a valuable term for education policy, but not for the description of a political reality, since - in contrast to the term of being disabled - the disadvantaged person is not born or accidentally handicapped with the special needs alluded to, but these have been provoked during the young person´s life by strong parental or social forces she or he could not control but had to react to.
Poverty can be measured and it is not easy to overlook, if it becomes deep and broad. Nearly always, poverty brings other things in its trail which one also does not enjoy talking about or it is forerun by many undesirable and saddening features. Perhaps not anyone who grows up in poverty is disadvantaged and unhappy, but if your parents have a low level of, and perhaps a disregard for, formal education, do hardly speak the official language of the country you live in, use no standardised language with sufficient skill, are unemployed in the third generation, are in prison, are illiterate or disabled or simply not there to care for you, disadvantagement is obvious. Your parents might live in divorce or the runaway father acts as aggressor to, and does not care for, his family? Alcoholism and drug-use or child abuse are your parents´ and perhaps even your grandparents´ daily reality?
Your family might come from a background that - out of the force of tradition and individual survival skills - enables it and you to cope with poverty in a way that steers clear of criminal or excessive acts - but the marginalisation of your group for hundreds of years leaves a mark on your world view. Perhaps socio-economic disadvantagement is best defined by what is there and not by what is missing: whenever a young person has had to build up visible competence or strategies for coping with an “unsual” reality (of which school frustration is just a by-product), this person has been disadvantaged. Such sometimes not very self-critical or self-loving young people can be hard to deal with for the educator, but their strategies are actually a positive feature to begin with. It all depends on whether we are able to help the young people to shape this competence into a tool for the development of key competences. The transition may be fluent, once the lock is built.