RAY Network

RAY Network – Research-based Analysis and Monitoring of Erasmus+: Youth in Action Programme.

 

The National Agency gives considerable weight to research, evaluation and analysis that aims to measure the impact and effect of policies and programmes.

  • What is the scope of the Erasmus+ programme and how can it be exploited in the youth sector?
  • How can youths and youth workers participate and what are the benefits that can be attained through such experiences?
  • Does the Erasmus+ really contribute to the development of skills and competences that give youths and youth workers an edge over others?
  • And what about youth organisations…how does the Erasmus+ benefit these organisations?
  • How does the programme contribute to the successful achievement of national and European objectives and the established priorities in the youth sector?

These are simply just some questions that are posed by many when discussing the Erasmus+ programme. One of the objectives of the NA is to provide concrete answers to such questions based on substantial evidence and proof. This is possible through research and analysis exercises that the NA commits to undertake from time to time. Indeed, the NA gives considerable weight to research, evaluation and analysis since it is through such research exercises that the NA can strengthen its strategic planning, align its priorities according to the needs of the business environment and continue working towards the development of standard policies in education, training and youth work. It is for this very reason that the NA joined a network of Erasmus+ Youth in Action National Agencies and their research partners and start pooling its efforts and resources to a Research-based Analysis and Monitoring of the Erasmus+ (RAY). This Research-based Analysis targets the youth sector. Thus, the analysis is carried out on just one sector of the current Erasmus+ programme. The programme that previously targeted the youth sector was known as the Youth in Action Programme (2007-2013). Similarly to the Youth in Action Programme, the Erasmus+ programme aims to target young people and help them develop a sense of active national and European Citizenship, solidarity, tolerance and to actively involve them in shaping a better future.

 

Why is such a Research-based Analysis important?

 

“All I’m armed with is knowledge” – Mike Wallace

 

The National Agency believes that it is through substantial and concrete evidence that is can continue to comprehend the processes and the dynamisms of the ever-changing fields education, training and youths. Furthermore, it believes that is through such research that it can strengthen its strategic planning and reach out to the needs of the general public, in particular the needs of young people, the future leaders of tomorrow. In joining the RAY Network, the NA is able to reach the following objectives:-

  • Examine how the Erasmus+ programme can be better exploited to reach national and European policies and the established targets for the youth sector.
  • Understand and measure the effectiveness of introduced dynamisms in the field of youth work, including the processes and outcomes of informal and non-formal learning.
  • Examine the short and long term impact that Erasmus+ projects in the youth sector  have on both the individual participant, and youth workers/trainers.
  • Examine how this projects impact the youth organisation/body/entity at large
  • Examine how such projects are rendering benefits at the collective level, and how such benefits can be further exploited and disseminated for future projects.
  • Examine how different projects are being implemented in order to gauge areas of improvement.

Being a complete network of National Agencies and researchers, RAY aspires to develop an exchange with researchers, research entities and other research networks involved in youth research, and other fields linked to education and mobility, fields in which the Erasmus+ is highly present.

 

A history of research

 

“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose. ” – Zora Neale Hurston

 

RAY Network is committed to deliver high research projects. For this reason a combination of quantitative and qualitative social research methods and instruments are used. Such instruments include:-

  • pre-studies, pre and post surveys with project participants, project leaders and key staff of beneficiary organisations, as well as with applicant organisations that were rejected;
  • case studies of selected projects;
  • interviews and focus groups with different actors involved in the Youth in Action Programme
  • interviews and focus groups with those who are not participating in this kind of programme. These are normally referred to as control groups.

These research instruments have been put to good use periodically between 2009 and 2014. Indeed, two standard surveys and a “special survey” focusing on special issues related to the Youth in Action Programme have been conducted on a regular basis throughout this five year period. These surveys were conducted in the framework of the, then, Youth in Action Programme (2007-2013). Upon endorsement of the Youth in Action Programme within the Erasmus+ framework, the RAY Network decided to extend its research efforts to this newly developed programme covering the period between 2014 and 2020. Indeed, a first round of surveys is scheduled for 2015 and 2016. Besides, in 2015, the RAY Network launched two additional research projects; one focusing on the long-term effects of participation in Erasmus+: Youth in Action Programme, while the other focuses on the competence development and capacity building in Erasmus+:Youth in Action Programme.

Interesting facts:-

  • The two online surveys that were developed for participants and for project leaders of Youth in Action-funded projects have been translated in 18 different languages.
  • The special surveys developed between 2009 and 2014 were conducted in 15 countries and translated in 14 different languages.
  • Between October 2009 and November 2014, more than 132,000 participants and project leaders of Youth in Action projects were asked to participate in a RAY online survey.
  • Nearly 41,000 persons participated and completed the respective questionnaire.
  • To date, 30 National Agencies of Erasmus+: Youth in Action Programme from different countries and from their research partners represent the self-governed European research network “Research-based Analysis and Monitoring of Erasmus+: Youth in Action” (“RAY Network”).

EUPA is part of the RAY Network

Being fully supportive of the idea of conducting Research-based Analysis on a yearly basis that involves several relevant stakeholders in the youth sector, the Maltese National Agency fully supports the raison d’être of the RAY Network. For this reason, in 2014 the NA joined the network and is now fully engaged in carrying out the Research-based Analysis and Monitoring of the Erasmus+: Youth in Action Programme. Besides, the NA is also a member of the newly created working group which focuses on studying the effects of the Erasmus+: Youth in Action Programme on youth participation and citizenship. Watch out for this space to stay informed about the NA’s involvement in the RAY Network, as well as the outcomes and the conclusions gauged from both research exercises.

 

Links:-

RAY Network webpage:- http://www.researchyouth.net/

RAY Network Research Publications:- http://www.researchyouth.net/publications/

RAY Network Research Conferences:- http://www.researchyouth.net/conferences/