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The role of voluntary organisations in developing the capabilities of vulnerable young people

By Arinola Anneke Adefila


What do people need to live functional and flourishing lives in today’s global society? They require\ud sophisticated socio-economic skills and the prowess of political and cultural participation to\ud undertake duties as world citizens. Can schools in the United Kingdom, adequately prepare all\ud young people for these challenges? Data published by the Department for Children, Schools and\ud Families (DCSF, 2009b) show that two in five children do not acquire key literacy and numeracy\ud skills before leaving primary school. Some young people leave the education system altogether\ud with no qualifications and limited understanding of their rights and responsibilities as global\ud agents. Most of the young people in this category have multiple and sometimes complex\ud disadvantages; they may live in poor and deprived neighbourhoods, experience poor physical and\ud mental health or lack the support of adults who are able to model successful, flourishing and\ud capable citizenry.\ud Sen (1992) argues that the instruments needed for individuals to flourish are “capabilities”. These are\ud the “potentials to be and do”. This study examines the means by which voluntary organisations\ud improve the capabilities of vulnerable young people. It focuses on three major vulnerable groups:\ud young people who have been excluded from mainstream education, those in cared for by the State and\ud young people with learning difficulties.\ud The research uses a mixed methods approach, skewed in favour of qualitative methods to analyse\ud diverse trajectories of vulnerable young people towards capability. It relies on the capability approach\ud to investigate the methods used in Voluntary Organisations which support the participants’\ud transformation to functional individuals. Organised as communities of learning, Centres of non-formal\ud education provide the space, expertise and pedagogies for transformative learning processes to take\ud place. The study shows vulnerable individuals need to combine and convert specialised capabilities in\ud specific suites to enable them make the transition to capability successfully

Topics: HS, LB
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