A delegation of Dutch educators visited SoCiuS in Brussels. They wanted to know more about non-formal adult education in Flanders and especially on folk high schools.
A decree (law) regulates the structure and subsidies for the sector of non-formal adult education in Belgium. This decree (2002) regulates the recognition and subsidising of about 100 socio-cultural organisations with national impact: associations, educational institutions and movements. In the future, subsidies will be given on the basis of quality, rather than quantity.
The decree subsidises the core-business of the organisations. This forces the organisations to chose a clear profile. The decree still takes the scale of the organisation into account but policy planning and quality will form the backbone of the subsidy regulations. This changes the relationship between organisations and authorities fundamentally: a choice for dialogue based on content; a choice for thinking in terms of objectives instead in terms of organisations. Four work forms will be subsidised: s
ocio-cultural associations, folk high schools, specialised socio-cultural institutions and socio-cultural movements.
An association is a network of local divisions or groups. The organisational structure consists of a local, a regional and a national level. Some associations have hundreds of local groups all over the country. They are usually volunteer-based, but at national and regional level one will find professional workers as well. The association has a community oriented function, a cultural function and educational and socially activating function. Their aim is the emancipation of the members, with a view to their personal and social development. An association can focus on a category of the population (women, elderly, handicapped…) or on a common point of interest (ecology, peace …). Many associations are based on an ideology or philosophy (socialist, liberal, Christian …).
Folk High Schools.
Their core-business is offering non-formal education: educational programmes that do not lead to diplomas or that do not have professional aims. Their main aim is personality development which strengthens the individual and helps building a community. A folk high school is a pluralistic organisation aimed at organising, structuring and coordinating the non-formal educational offer in a defined region.
There are 13 regional folk high schools in Flanders, combining regional strengths in the educational field. The folk high schools will coordinate the regional non-formal educational offer. The aim is to reach as many inhabitants as possible, to offer non-formal education that fits the regional needs and to guarantee quality through intense cooperation of people and organisations.
Specialised socio-cultural institutions.
The specialised educational institutions have a national (Flemish) reach. They concentrate know how and methods with regard to a specific theme. An institution provides a varied educational programme in the form of courses and educational activities with regard to a specific theme or cluster of themes. An open curriculum, accessible to everyone, forms their core business. The folk high schools and the specialised educational institutions will regularly collaborate to realise a specific educational offer.
In addition to the above, the following educational institutions will be recognised: for handicapped persons, for prisoners and per representative labour union. Here as well, collaboration is a key word.
A movement is a national organisation specialised in a certain theme or in a cluster of related themes. The movements organises activities in the field of sensitisation, education and social action to obtain social changes. It has an educational and socially activating role and addresses a large public. It concerns organisations that work on sensitization, social action and education with regard to a specific theme. They try to convince as many people as possible of the importance of the themes they treat. The decree foresees a 4-yearly subsidy for these organisations if the social relevance of the themes, the quality, expertise and methods can be established.