Non-formal education (NFE) at the time of the Covid-19? Why not? At the time we had to stay home, I had plenty of time for various online seminars and workshops, as we were not allowed to leave our community due to quarantine. The company I work for temporarily closed its doors at the time, and in the faculty, all activities took place online; the rest of the time… somehow it had to be used up and filled with interesting activities. I do not like to be out of work myself, so I decided to make the most of the unexpected “gift”. By learning, not just in college, but also in non-formal workshops.
I can say that during the “time of quarantine” non-formal education has once again shown its ingenuity. From the very beginning, when we were truly aware that the speed of life would change, non-formal education quickly rolled up its sleeves and dealt with a given situation. If we look back now, we see how the performance of non-formal activities in the market has “blossomed”. The longer we were in quarantine because of the Covid-19, more offers for education there were.
The credit for the success of the NFE is, of course, the one and only “online communication”. With the successful use and improvement of various online applications and communication options, non-formal education was one of the first serious “users” to know how to effectively use new technologies for their needs, while the rest of the world was just beginning to learn and discover that such matters are in fact accessible to all, and even very useful.
I must admit, however, that non-formal education, despite its enthusiasm, has had a significant advantage in terms of knowledge about the use of online communication applications. Ever since that little camera appeared on computers and the first well-known Skype – online application for communication, non-formal education has seen great potential in its usability. Unfortunately, the world and the backward technology of that time were not ready for such a development of communication tools, as we know now. With the development of technology, online communication has slowly gained its visibility. Despite the difficulties, non-formal education has not given up on online communication and has so far invested diligently in this type of work. Given the current situation, they just knew what they were doing.
Like everyone else, the internet had to become a good friend during quarantine; whether we liked it or not, as it was the only tool, we had available to connect with the outside world. After a while, when everyone had more than enough rest and relaxation, and was sick of it, we became restless in quarantine. That is when the question began to rise, probably not just for me, but also for many of us all: “But what to do behind these four walls? How to overcome the confinement of the apartment and the unbearable routine we found ourselves in?” At that time, NFE was the one that was ready to offer an “a to z” service. We could start learning – dancing, yoga, Pilates… online, we could have instructions in any field of our interest, seminars, which suddenly acquired a new name – webinars …
The resulting situation had put a person in front of the fact that it is not necessary to go somewhere or to someone to learn new skills, competences or gain new knowledge. You can do everything at home with the help of the internet. Therefore, in a way, we bought time in a world that no longer exists. Our pace of life has become so fast that the fact that we can save time and do the activities online from home means a lot to us, as for many of the activities we had to drive to before the Covid-19. This is a strategic finding. Not only was non-formal education resourceful and successful at the time of the Covid-19; NFE also gained new opportunities for development and earning due to the lockdown.
Everyone who participates in non-formal education in any way is one of those individuals who can say now that there is always something positive and good in every bad thing. The time of the Covid-19 became a new milestone in the field of interpersonal communication and in the way we work. NFE was in the right place at the right time. I hope that all those involved in non-formal education will be able to make good use of this fact, as what often happens is what the blatant phrase that we are so reluctant to hear says: “Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity.”
Written by: Mateja Lozar, future psychotherapist
YAMNFL Project Partner: Društvo za razvijanje prostovoljnega dela Novo mesto (Novo mesto / Slovenia)