On 19 December, a celebration was held in front of the packed Ljubljana Music and Ballet Conservatory, in honour of the 20th anniversary of the PLYA programme and the 25th anniversary of its conceptualisation. The atmosphere was friendly, warm, and bursting with encouragement. The programme was prepared by the participants of the PLYA programme at the Education Centre Geoss in Ljubljana, in cooperation with the SIAE and external associates.

The focal point of the celebration was the screening of a PLYA film with the title “Sence” (Shadows), filmed by the SIAE in honour of the two anniversaries and as an encouragement for young people to join the programme. It is designed to awaken and encourage young people to realise their power, and become aware of their connection to the world. On the other hand, it aims to point out to the world the young people who strive for self-realisation. Above all, we aspire for a broader and deeper engagement with schools. Joint assistance at the right time can help young people stay in school and overcome the difficulties they face in life. Research indicates that education is an important factor of social inclusion. The film, the programme, and the photos from the celebration are available on the event website (in Slovenian).

The audience was addressed by Prof Dr Ana Krajnc, Professor Emeritus of the University of Ljubljana, and Mitja Kocjančič, a former participant of the PLYA programme, now a sociology student and promotional speaker. Mitja outlined his path and personal transformation achieved in the programme. His testimony impressed many members of the celebration audience, for his narrative was spontaneous and compelling, and his personal accomplishments worthy of all respect. His words touched the hearts of the audience and instilled new hope, also for relatives and others who help young people with similar problems. Some people approached him after the celebration and some asked us for contact details, so they could get in touch with him personally.

Mitja is still involved in PLYA at the Radovljica AEC, where he voluntary helps individual participants to realise their goals, as an external mentor.

Prof Dr Ana Krajnc wrote a review for the first programme design in 1994 (at the time named the Centre for Young Adults), followed by a theoretical introduction, which is still relevant today. In her speech, she emphasised the importance of community and mentoring for the personal development of young people and their involvement in society. Young people who drop out of the school system are often ignored. More frequently, the problems they face are attributed to personal circumstances and are less often seen as a result of social factors that also influence their situation. However, young people need to be seen in their entirety – along with their personal potential and the talents they can develop if only the environment would listen to them and create opportunities for them to prove themselves. 

The learning environment at PLYA is based on trusting and encouraging interpersonal relationships, attracting young people and encouraging them to start expressing their creativity, which is a common human trait. At the same time, they become aware of the need for learning, as well as the influence and responsibility they have as autonomous persons for their lives.

A special atmosphere at the event was created by the music performed by a young trio. The band was formed spontaneously during the making of the PLYA film: Lucijan Janež, electric guitar, Jernej Cerar, cajón, and Hana Beus, vocals. Lucijan and Jernej are participating in the PLYA programme, while Hana is a saxophone student at the Academy of Music of the University of Ljubljana, and an amateur singer. Lucijan’s performance, warm and spontaneous, is an expression of his love for music, and dreams related to his music career. He also plans to finish high school while learning the guitar. Jernej is a self-taught cajón player and he also plays the ukulele. His mild hearing problems do not stop him from playing. He has a number of other hobbies: artistic blacksmithing, wood and leather carving. He also attends a programme for operating CNC machines. He is a very active member of the scouts organisation. The members of the trio were so in tune with each other that we were of the opinion they might continue playing as a permanent band.

All evaluations of the programme so far have shown that the participants give most credit for their achievements to their mentors. The celebration was also aimed at honouring their work. The five mentors who have been actively involved in the programme from the outset, received a special acknowledgement from the SIAE, as an expression of gratitude for their many years of hard work and creativity in the programme. The recipients were: Veronika Bezgovšek from Celje, Mihaela Flisar, mentor from Murska Sobota, Damjana Kotnik, MSc, head of the mentor group in Slovenj Gradec, Mojca Šolar Perko, former mentor of the participants, current mentor of new mentors in Radovljica, and Mateja Rozman Amon, former PLYA mentor, now Director of Radovljica AEC, proactively advocating the interests and needs of the PLYA programme. Congratulations!

Natalija Žalec, MAEd(UK) (natalija.zalec@acs.si), SIAE

© 2017-2021 Slovenian Institute for Adult Education

The publication is co-financed by the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities.

ISSN 2630-2926

Published by Slovenian Institute for Adult Education (SIAE), Šmartinska 134a, SI-1000 Ljubljana | Editor-in-chief: Zvonka Pangerc Pahernik, MSc (E: zvonka.pangerc@acs.si) | Editor: Ana Peklenik (E: ana.peklenik@acs.si) | Other members of the editorial board: Zvonka Pangerc Pahernik, MSc,  Andrej Sotošek, MSc, Director of SIAE, dr Tanja Možina, Tanja Vilič Klenovšek, MA, and Margerita Zagmajster, MSc, Computer solution: Franci Lajovic (T: 01 5842 555, E: franci.lajovic@acs.si) | Translation/proofreading: Mesto znanja, izobraževanje in svetovanje za osebno rast, Petra Cvek, s. p.  | Design: Larisa Hercog | Corrective reading: Zvonka Pangerc Pahernik, MSc, and Mateja Pečar | W: https://enovicke.acs.si/en/home/