One cannot write about the creation and development of the association known as AIEJI, International Association of Social Educators, without first mentioning the origin and development of the profession called "educateurs." Educateur, a French word, is the title of a professional person who specializes in the total life education of troubled young people.
The word "educateur" is a Latin derivative from the word "educare." Educare means to lead out, to pull out or to encourage the potential in people. Educateurs are thought of as total life specialists engaged in work with children. In the United States, the word "educateur" is often mistaken for the word "educator." Educator is synonymous with putting information in, and educateur is synonymous with pulling information from people or bringing out their potential.
The educateur profession, initiated in France in 1942, had its greatest evolution of development after the Second World War as several European countries faced the reconstruction of their society, including the problems of dealing with thousands of children whose parents were either killed, prisoners of war or temporarily missing during the general chaos of the time. As traditional treatment patterns were abandoned and new child care services were designed to meet the needs of troubled children, a new profession dedicated to a holistic approach in trying to meet the physical, mental, psychological, social, and spiritual needs of young children emerged - that of the educateur.
Since these early develoments, training institutes for the educateur have been initiated throughout Europe. Immediately after World War II, there were approximately fifty such institutes. Today there are over fifty in France alone. The educateur throughout Europe has many different titles; however, their actual practice and training is very similar. In Norway, for instance, the title for an educateur is barnevernpedagog. In Russia, they are known as defectologists. In Belgium their title is educateur sociale, and in Sweden and Denmark their title is sociopedagogue. In France the title is Educateur Specialise.
Creation of AIEJI
In the late 1940s the Cultural Division of the French High Commissioner's Office in Germany gave H. Van Etten and H. Joubrel the responsibility for organizing an international meeting on "problems in the education of troubled children and youth." The purpose of the meeting, held in April 1949, was to promote better understanding between the French and the Germans working with troubled youth in the aftermath of the war. While originally the scope of the discussion involved only the German and French individuals, several representatives from other countries were later invited.
A second meeting took place in 1950 in Bad Durckheim, with a third following a year later in Freiburg-im-Breisgau. In each of these previous meetings the French Association of Educateurs brought enthusiasm to the discussions which in turn motivated participants from other countries to found similar organizations in their own countries in support of the educateur philosophy as evidenced in France.
By the time that the fourth conference in Germany on March 19, 1951 was held, it was becoming clear that such international meetings were helpful in addressing the needs of young people. For this reason in the mountains near Freiburg-im-Breisgau at Schluchsee the participants organized the International Association of Workers for Troubled Children and Youth (AIEJI) and elected a Dutchman, M.D.Q.R. Mulock Houwer, who was then the director of the "Zandbergen" Schools in Amersfoort, to become President. The infant association then had its headquarters in the Netherlands.
The participants at Schluchsee not only organized and developed the association now known as AIEJI, but they also created the international logo of the association, which is recognized throughout the world today. Participants at the international meeting were struck by the road signs frequently seen in the Black Forest area pointing out wild animal crossings. They thought that the leaping doe, promoted to a gazelle later with the addition of two horns on it head, perfectly evoked the springing movement of the brand new AIEJI. They put it with the Latin motto "in Libertae sursum." The world map which serves as a background today to the gazelle appears in the minutes of the Third World Congress of AIEJI held in Fontainebleau in 1956. At the time of the international Congress there were affiliated national associations existing in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Germany. Since that time numerous national associations have been created and have joined the international association of AIEJI. At present, they number in the twenties. While the international association in recent years has taken individual members, the primary membership are the national associations of various countries. AIEJI's headquarters are in Geneva, and its administrative offices are in Paris.
Evolution of the Goals of AIEJI
Meetings continued in Germany after the founding of the international association on topics that addressed the needs of the day, interspersed with World Congresses that occurred in 1952 and 1954:
1951 - "Means of prevention of asocial or antisocial behavior and post treatment"
1952 - "Family placements for troubled children and youth" and "The relationship between bad 'educateurs' and bad behavior of students"
1953 - "Problems of the differentiation of live-in facilities"
1954 - "Collaboration between the specialized 'educateur,' the psychiatrist and the psychologist in the education of troubled children who, for one reason or another, cannot stay at home"
1955 - "The treatment of difficult cases; the preparation of 'educateurs' - the education of minors in danger in the U.S.A."
In the late 1950s other countries, Austria, Switzerland and France, began to be the site of small meetings of the now growing AIEJI association.
1957 - Hambourg, (theme unidentified)
1959 - Freiburg (Austria), "Sensitization towards group dynamics";
1961 - Freiburg-im-Breisgau, "The admission of the child into boarding school";
1962 - Vienna, "The use of group dynamics by educateurs of troubled children and youth";
1967 - Amsterdam (Netherlands), "Cases of failure in the rehabilitation of socially inadapted children."
While the earlier meetings of the infant international association involved primarily the countries of Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and France, as early as 1952 the young organization set the ambitious plan to host World Congresses to pull together workers from all around the world who serve troubled children and youth to exchange ideas on services and educational methods on training. The Congresses listed in chronological order include the names of their host countries. The readers should note in particular that by the third Congress that the United Nations was involved.
September 1953 - Amersfoort (Netherlands)
"The bringing into practice in Europe of American 'casework'"
"Sanctions in re-education"
"Cooperation between training centers for institutional personnel and the institutions themselves"
"The case of the young person in a boarding school situation"
July 1954 - Brussels (Belgium)
"The essential aspects of the work of a specialized 'educateur'"
"The composition of groups in a boarding school"
"The training of the 'educateur' of troubled youth"
July 1956 - Fontainebleau (France)
By the third Congress, U.N.E.S.C.O., a branch of the United Nations, saw the importance of the international association, AIEJI. Through the efforts of U.N.E.S.C.O., and the planning of the third World Congress, over 600 participants from 35 countries and five continents attended the meeting in France. Three main themes were the focal point of discussion:
"The nature of the relationship 'educateur' - troubled youth"
"Group dynamics and the 'educateur' of troubled youth"
"Social readaptation of young people by the 'milieu'"
June 1958 - Lausanne (Switzerland)
"Continuing education for 'educateurs' of troubled youth"
"Criteria for maintaining troubled youth in their families"
June 1960 - Rome (Italy)
"The 'educateur' of troubled youth and his mental hygiene"
September-October 1963 - Freiburg-im-Breisgau (West Germany) This Congress, attended by many internationally known people, one of whom was the representative of the General Secretary of the United Nations, gathered together to discuss the central theme, "The basic education, the specialization and the ongoing training of 'educateurs' of troubled children and youth". In attendance were representatives of thirteen developing countries from Africa, South America, and Asia. Their participation helped the international association to increase the interest of professionals around the world in third world countries. This World Congress, in particular, was influential in the development of a school for educateurs in Betama (Cameroon) in 1965.
July 1970 - Versailles (France)
"The social role of the 'educateur' of troubled children and youth"
April-May 1974 - Geneva and Lausanne (Switzerland)
"The 'educateur' and the new behavior of young people in difficulty"
April 1978 - Monteal (Quebec, Canada), April 1978
"The future of maladjusted children"
May 1982 - Copenhagen (Denmark)
"Between segregation and integration: The right to difference"
May 1986 - Jerusalem (Israel) "Social and economic options in favor of youth in difficulty"
July 2-6, 1990 - New York (U.S.A.) "Young people in conflict: building their tomorrow together"
The New York World Congress promised to be the largest to date hosting participants from 40 countries with presentations from 23 individual countries.
1994 - Potsdam (Germany) "Educative action and crisis throughout the world - a challenge for profession and research"
1997 - Brescia (Italy) "The socio-educational function in a multicultural world"
2001 - Barcelona (Spain) "Ethics and quality of socio-educational action"
2005 Montevideo (Uruguay) "Social Education: inclusion and participation; ethical, technical and political chalenges"
2009 Copenhagen (Denmark) "The social educator in a globalized world"
2013 Luxemburg (Luxemburg) "All together"
2017 Campinas (Brazil) "I am because we are"
Since 1970 the World Congresses have been organized and held every four years in different countries by member associations.
Goals and Objectives of AIEJI
Since its inception the international association (AIEJI) has had as its primary goal the increased training and development of professionals who work with troubled children and youth. While it was created by the "educateurs" of Europe, and in particular of France, the organization has served to unite various professional disciplines from many different countries. The 2001 statutes of the association list the following items for goals:
A. Uniting social educators from all countries, regardless of their functions with total respect for their convictions
B. Contributing in the training and proficiency of social educators
C. Contributing in the organization of the social educator profession
D. Developing and ensuring compliance with educational methods based on respect for individuals
E. Contributing in the study on protection of persons as a national and international problem and to facilitate contacts for its members with education experiences carried out around the world
F. Being a source of documentation for all in the field of social education.
The association strives to reach its goals by:
(a) encouraging the creation of social educator associations in countries in which there are no such associations
(b) organizing encounters, colloquiums, seminars or international congresses of a general, inter-regional or regional nature
(c) serving as an intermediary between its members and possibly for the benefit of other persons, in the organization of visits of institutions and services for protection of persons in the members' countries of residence
(d) the possible publication of circulars, a bulletin or magazine, of different work, by an exchange of documentation concerning social education, through collaboration on practical or scientific publications in the field
(e) aiming to create a documentation center on social education or by adding to international documentation centers devoted to this subject
(f) working together with the United Nations and its specialized institutions, particularly with UNESCO, as well as with other international or national organizations, whether inter-governmental, governmental or not, concerned with social education
(g) any other means.
While the educateur practice in Europe began in residential settings in order to respond to the needs of homeless children, the practice moved to halfway homes which evolved to work with families. Some educateurs actually live with families assisting them with decision-making and problem-solving, as well as other issues related to family life. Today European educateurs can be found in literally every facet of the human service delivery system. They work on the streets, infiltrate gangs, and can be found in alternative schools and day treatment centers.
It is possible that the educateur profession will emerge as one of the primary means for solving the problems of children and families in the United States. The educateur has certainly made a significant contribution to the work with troubled children and their families in Europe.
Text updated by Ney Moraes Filho from: http://www.davidlane.org/children/chnov2001/chnov2001/history%20aieji.html