Improving the impact of the Award in Slovakia
Published: 21 Jun 2017
Investing in people at all levels is the lynchpin of much of our work on ensuring impact and quality. Slovakia’s growth has been underpinned by a focus on their new staff and training those who will help support other volunteers in their aim to engage more young people.
The Award in Slovakia has been delivered through two Independent Award Centres in Bratislava since 2007. Recognising the value of the Award, Slovakia launched a successful pilot with ten further units. Since then, with a small team of four the National Award Operator has made impressive progress in growing the Award across the country, with ambitious plans for the future.
Building skills for life
The Award in Slovakia has a clear vision. National Director, Marián Zachar speaks of bringing about societal change for the benefit of Slovakia’s next generation.
“We live in times when young people in Slovakia fall behind other OECD[i] countries in educational attainment as well as well-rounded life skills and character development. Over the years, they fall behind in employment, trusting others, community volunteering and civic engagement.
We believe that by increasing motivation and expectations of young people, and offering global recognition through the Award, young people in Slovakia could significantly improve their life prospects.
The Award is all about gaining the skills and attitudes to equip young people for life. By working with schools and other youth organisations to deliver the Award, we hope to shift the culture of education in Slovakia to focus on young people achieving well-rounded growth.”
Growing the Award
The team in Slovakia has worked closely with colleagues from the Europe, Mediterranean and Arab States (EMAS) team at the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation to ensure its growth is sustainable and that all young people receive the best possible Award experience.
Marián recalls what really helped when facing the early challenges of a start-up organisation:
“The Foundation provided us with a valuable quality assurance system through its licence review. This helped us set the quality benchmarks of the Award in Slovakia right from the start. The development of Slovak trainers through the ‘train the trainer’ initiative was also crucial for the growth of the organisation. It allowed us to develop a network of qualified trainers that would deliver the Award to consistently high standards.”
The value of a global network
Becoming a National Award Operator gave Slovakia access to a wide network of countries running the Award. Collaborating with the Czech Award has been particularly helpful, providing support with the development of Slovakia’s website, holding joint Award leader training and sharing best practice on all elements of Award delivery. The strong collaboration will continue into the future, with the Chair of the Czech Award, Jiři Zrůst, also a member of Slovakia’s Board of Trustees.
The international recognition of the Award brand has also helped the newly established National Award Operator to reach new business partners and delivery units. Marian explains:
“The strength of the brand helps organisations to clearly see the impact of the Award on young people around the world and how it might help reach the goals of their own organisations.”
The National Award Operator looks set to achieve its goals, enabling thousands more young people to benefit from the Award across Slovakia over the coming years.
[i] The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development currently has 35 member nations. They include many of the world’s most advanced countries but also emerging countries like Mexico, Chile and Turkey.