Maks vzw is an NGO recognised as non-formal adult education and youth centre, empowering people to create their own success stories since 1999. Maks vzw is situated in one of the most deprived neighbourhoods of Brussels, named Kuregem. Most inhabitants here come from an immigrant or refugee background. Within a population of about 25,000 spread over just 2 km2, there are over 112 different nationalities. Both the unemployment (around 30%) and illiteracy (50% only primary school degree) rates are high. In 2013 youth unemployment increased to an alarming 52%. The average income per person is under 700€ a month, which is less than half the average of the Brussels Region. Against this backdrop, Maks vzw offers two open IT learning centres where people can take low-cost courses or workshops tailored to their needs and counselling service, helping people get a job. Keeping barriers as low as possible, we encourage people to expand their digital skills to participate in 21st-century society actively.
We aim to facilitate social mobility by fighting digital illiteracy on all levels. In the counselling service, we teach them, for instance, how to orient themselves professionally and how to apply for a job. Maks vzw has about 80 employees, but 25 of the employees are youngsters that are trained on the job as an educator in multimedia or desktop publishing (graphic design-web design). Annually, Maks vzw is coaching about 700 adult job-seekers and 100 youngsters between 18 and 25 years old. In the IT centre, we reach 2700 inhabitants from 6 to 99. Maks vzw has worked for 20 years in one of the poorest neighbourhoods of Brussels and Belgium. We aim to activate people and empower them in the labour market and at school.
Our methods are based on ICT education. People from disadvantaged groups are attracted to digital media and are at the same time aware that they are at risk of being excluded. Maks vzw specialises in using digital media to give disadvantaged groups a voice, inviting them at the same time in a lifelong learning process and an integration process. Taking part in essential dialogues about poverty, elections, domestic violence, and hate crimes, Maks vzw helps people to reflect and change attitudes. Our project Capital Digital accompanies youngsters from 15 to 18 to become coding animators and gives courses to children from 8 to 12 years. Currently, we are conducting several workshops with youth at risk where they realise a digital story with their lockdown experiences.
At Maks vzw, “The Brussels Canal Zone”, youth can sharpen their digital skills and media literacy, enabling personal development and active social participation.
Vega Youth Center
Vega Youth Center is a non-profit, non-governmental youth organisation founded in December 2000 in Belgrade. Vega YC is dedicated to building a quality environment for the growth and development of children and youth. We want to encourage the sustainability of young people’s actions by promoting creative work, culture, new technologies, activism, self-organization and non-formal education. Vega YC aims to improve education quality and encourage the development of creativity, visual culture, art, DIY culture, activism, environmental awareness and critical thinking of children and youth through various educational and personal training programs. Currently, the organization is active in two sectors with different target groups:
a. Non-formal education and youth mobility. The first sector is dedicated to non-formal education and youth mobility and targets all young people living in the territory of Serbia. Since 2009 we have organized several media literacy and media activism training, on the local level, in cooperation with different municipalities in Belgrade, and on the international level through European youth projects (Youth in Action and EYF). We are very active in distributing information about mobility projects for youngsters, organizing informatory events and disseminating information through our social media channels. Through expanding our international network, we have helped more than 150 Serbian youngsters participate in youth exchanges, seminars, pieces of training and voluntary service projects in different European countries. (www.vega.org.rs)
b. Design Thinking and Design for Change. The second sector is mainly dedicated to disseminating schools’ DT and DFC methodology. For this purpose, we organize the annual “DFC School Challenge”, inviting children and their educators to do projects that improve their surroundings using the DFC methodology. The result of the challenge is the annual “I CAN” celebration that presents the projects to the general public in Belgrade and the participation of one team in the global “Be The Change” celebration that happens every year in a different country. Moreover, we organise training for teachers and educators and offer mentorship. Using the DFC methodology, we also organize workshops for children and youngsters, empowering them to change their surroundings with their ideas for a better world. We create tools and materials to help teachers, educators, parents, youth workers, and youngsters use the DT and DFC methodologies in their work and everyday lives. (www.dfcsrbija.org)