Panel K.05 — The role of informal and non-formal education in fostering youth agency

Convenors Valentina Lamonica (CNR, Italy); Maddalena Bartolini (CNR, Italy)

Keywords Informal education; nonformal education; young people; adolescents; inclusion


Informal and non-formal education are important pillars of the lifelong learning, which imposes the perception of learning as permanent, activated not only with a teacher and a standard curriculum but in every sphere of social life. In this vision, learning is essential to renew and strengthen social, work, and soft skills. The conjunction between formal, nonformal and informal learning suggests a holistic vision to analyse both the ways of socialization, the processes of learning and building culture (Colombo, 2014). In this ongoing process, the spaces and methods through which skills are developed acquire new importance, forcing a reflection on their effects in terms of recovering the initial weakness. New and uncommon spaces, unusual tools like art, sport, music, and youth languages are possible means to stimulate skills that formal education finds difficult to achieve (Gubbins, 2023; Besozzi, 2017; Jeff & Ord, 2017). The sociological and pedagogical literature collect a lot of contribution trying to demonstrate the effects of those interventions on young people, when formal education it is too rigid to offer adaptable solutions to emerging needs (Cayari, 2011; Green, 2008; Green, 2005). In this space, we would like to discuss and deep the role of informal and non-formal education in supporting not only young people, but also trainers, educator and teachers who works for them, with the aim to develop young people attitudes and strength. Through train the trainers’ actions, in fact, it is possible to stimulate adolescent motivation and to give social support that contribute to their social development, school performance and reinforcement of their agency.

Starting from the aforementioned premises, this panel is aimed to give space to theoretical, and empirical reflections on strategies and tools to:

  1. foster the youth agency away from formal education;
  2. Reflect on weakness and strength of innovative educational support;
  3. Discuss strategies and policy solutions aimed at strengthening youth protagonism;

Therefore, some topics of interest are (not exhaustive list):

  • Informal and non-formal education research in VET, higher education, and University
  • Experiences and practices to strengthen young people’s agency
  • Evaluation of national and EU projects regarding informal and nonformal education
  • New and uncommon education-socialisation space
  • Nonformal education as a vector for the cultural construction of new generations
  • Theoretical approach and research methodologies to deepen the young agency


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