Strong networks between local partners are vital for establishing international youth work at the local level, where a variety of organisational cultures and objectives coexist. Dealing with this constructively, widening networks and improving network quality were all on the agenda of the annual Kommune goes International conference in Cologne. [read more]
The Kommune goes International (KGI) network aims to strengthen international youth work at the local level and put it on a strong, long-term footing. IJAB, the International Youth Service of the Federal Republic of Germany, uses the network to support local authorities that plan to introduce new or strengthen existing political processes to this end, providing them with a wide range of advisory services, networking assistance, training and information.
Research projects and practical experience have shown that international youth work can contribute towards creating a more equal playing field for all members of society. For this reason, the KGI network expressly seeks to put in place the preconditions at the local level for enabling all young people to experience cross-border mobility.
Between 2011 and 2014 IJAB managed the Kommune goes International initiative, under which 21 local authorities across Germany began to create and strengthen opportunities for international youth and expert exchanges. During this initial phase, the new structures were tried and tested and deemed successful. Now, the KGI network will be expanded to include other local authorities that wish to establish such schemes.
Kommune goes International - The process
To establish international youth work politically and structurally, local authorities undergo a process that involves setting up a local-level network, designing a local development plan, and implementing and evaluating the associated measures.
A local-level network consists of public-sector and independent international youth work organisations, as well as other local partners such as youth associations, youth social workers, organisations providing vocational assistance for young people, school social workers, immigrant community organisations, the youth migration services, integration officers, companies or job centres.
The network begins by drawing up a local development plan for international youth work activities in the area. Together, the partners set concrete objectives and develop and implement measures to reach them. Before that, the existing situation is analysed and needs identified in order to account for local circumstances and to achieve outcomes that are realistic and beneficial to all involved partners. Possible steps towards establishing and strengthening international youth work at the local level include:
- Setting up service offices that advise and support project sponsors, experts and young people
- Gaining political backing from local child and youth services for the local development plan
- Qualifying experts by offering them training and a chance to participate in an international exchange scheme for experts
- Developing new international youth work formats and new forms of cooperation
- Publicly promoting international youth work to ensure it is recognised as a non-formal educational service
For more information on KGI, go to www.jive-international.de
The Kommune goes International network offers:
- Advisory services: IJAB regularly advises the KGI partners and supports them in establishing local international youth work structures and gaining political backing.
- Networking: Partners are invited to regular nationwide networking meetings, workshops and expert meetings where they can exchange experiences and undergo training. Local authorities may also form a tandem with another local authority.
- Information: KGI partners have access to information material and handbooks on relevant issues and are kept up to date with a regular newsletter.
- Training: Experts from the local authorities can attend training seminars on a variety of topics. They also have access to training courses.
Joining the Kommune goes International network
The network is open to public bodies offering child and youth services in cities, communities and districts that wish to establish and strengthen international youth work at the local level in close cooperation with independent organisations. KGI is aimed at local authorities that have already introduced international youth work in their child and youth services structures, but also at those cities, communities and districts that have little or no experience in this field. One contact person inside the organisation should be named as a fixed port of call. Membership in the KGI network presupposes a willingness to change and strengthen international youth work at the local level and to participate in KGI events, with partners paying for their own travel expenses.
If you are interested in joining the Kommune goes International network, please get in touch.
Kommune goes International is part of the youth policy initiative JiVE. Youth Work International - Experiencing Diversity and receives funding from the Federal Ministry of Family, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. The KGI network is operated in cooperation with the Association of German Cities, the Association of German Counties and the German Association of Towns and Municipalities.
After 35 years with IJAB, our colleague Paul Szczesny will be leaving as of 31 December 2015. The wealth of invaluable international experience and knowledge he brought to bear on youth policy cooperation with many different countries gained him much recognition both in Germany and abroad. [read more]