Ballymun Youthreach model is presented in Tunisia

January 25, 2018

Lionel Duffy, the co-ordinator of Ballymun Youthreach, hosted five workshops at the UNICEF Second Chance Education Seminar in Tunis in December discussing the practicalities of implementing second chance education structures in North Africa. Many of the issues in North Africa mirror the Irish situation when Youthreach was first set up in 1989.

Ballymun Youthreach took part in the UNICEF Second Chance Education Seminar in Tunis on the 28th, 29th December 2017. The centre was invited as one of ten international education centres to present their models as a directive for new implementations in second chance education in Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria under the guidance of UNICEF. The full list of models chosen were Ballymun Youthreach (Ireland), Centre de la Deuxieme Chance (Morocco), Dobbanto (Hungary), Ecole de la Deuxieme Chance Estuaire de la Loire (France), Ecole Vanguard (Canada), Ensiegnement de Promotion Sociale (Belguim), Luminus Education (Jordan), Microlycee de Senart (France), Penascal Kooperatiba (Spain)  and Mission Locale de Marseille (France).

Lionel hosts five workshops.

The seminar took place over two days and heard from the international experiences of each model as well as hosting individual workshops with each representative. Lionel Duffy, the co-ordinator of Ballymun Youthreach hosted five workshops discussing the practicalities of implementing second chance education structures in North Africa. This proved an extremely interesting experience with many of the issues in North Africa mirroring the Irish situation when Youthreach was first set up in 1989. The three countries attending from North Africa had large numbers of students quitting secondary schools and technical colleges because of a range of issues stemming from increasing levels of anxiety to perceived lack of structure in the mainstream system. Many of the issues prompting early school leaving were leading to disengagement from large sections of young people in both rural and urban communities in North Africa hence the desire to listen to the experiences of second chance systems from around the world.

Youtheach model much admired

There was an extremely high level of interest in the Youthreach model and much admiration for its nationwide approach and the support network this nationwide set-up allowed. Other aspects of Youthreach that attracted much interest was its success in focusing on education attainment within its centres rather than pushing students back into a mainstream education system that hasn’t previously worked for them. The high levels of progression from Youthreach to PLCs and employment as well as the variance of subjects offered were also features that compared very favourably in regards to the other international models presenting. Other areas discussed in regards to Youthreach included the transition to Trauma – sensitive centres with onsite psychological support, a unique emphasis on both practical and academic disciplines and the very personal experience for students allowed by the reduced class sizes in comparison to mainstream schools. Lastly the implementation of soft skills learning, in many cases hugely lacking among students entering Youthreach, was another aspect that garnered a great deal of interest.

Lionel Duffy is pictured among delegates back row far right.

The seminar was also attended by three government ministers from Tunisia and a host of education experts from Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. UNICEF intends to focus intently on education in North Africa in 2018.

Visit Ballymun Youthreach for more information.

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