STA, 15 May 2019 - Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, wrapped up his two-day visit to Slovenia by attending a MEPI youth event and planting a tree of friendship between the UK and Slovenia in Ljubljana's Tivoli Park together with President Borut Pahor on Wednesday. He also took part in a debate on the importance of non-formal education.
Predsednik Republike Slovenije Borut Pahor na obisku v Sloveniji gosti Njegovo kraljevo visokost princa Edvarda. Predsednik je princa danes najprej sprejel v Predsedniški palači, nato pa sta se skupaj udeležila MEPI dogodka v Parku Tivoli. #RoyalVisitSlovenia ???? pic.twitter.com/CYwCXhRSx9— Borut Pahor (@BorutPahor) May 15, 2019
Pahor and Prince Edward met with students involved in the international Duke of Edinburgh Award programme (known in Slovenia as MEPI), which supports the young in developing their interests and skills and prepares them for future life and work.
They also observed the participants' workshops and attended a students' performance celebrating the friendship.
The Earl of Wessex has been the chairman of the trustees of The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Foundation since 2015, advocating the benefits of the programme in the UK and abroad as well as presenting the MEPI gold awards. Pahor is the honorary patron of Slovenia's MEPI programme.
UK Ambassador to Slovenia Sophie Honey said that the aim of the visit was to celebrate the countries' strong bilateral ties as well as historical ones and strengthen them in many areas, including security, business, education, science and culture.
#WorldReady with HRH Earl of Wessex @RoyalFamily & Slovenian Duke of Edinburgh Award participants (known in Slovenia as #MEPI).— UK in Slovenia (@UKinSlovenia) May 15, 2019
?? 70 schools / 1800 Award participants / 900 educated Award leader volunteers. pic.twitter.com/0A4OYUL6w2
"Brexit may change the institutional links between us but I don't think it changes the friendship, I don't think it changes the will and the drive to work together in all of these areas," said Honey.
Prince Edward later took part in a business event hosted by the British-Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and promoting the importance of non-formal education in the business world.
The Earl of Wessex shared his thoughts on how programmes like MEPI assist young people in preparing for the job market through active participation in a variety of activities.
He pointed out that besides teaching young people how to pass an exam, the education system should also prepare them for life and work afterwards.
"Knowledge is knowing that tomatoes are fruit, wisdom is knowing that you're not going to put tomatoes in a fruit salad," he quipped.
The prince believes the educational systems should take into account that the young are individuals with specific interests, who should be able to choose from a variety of opportunities and activities.
According to him, such programmes help the young develop confidence outside the classroom which then translates to other areas, improves their school results and prepares them for the challenges ahead.
"What happens outside the classroom could be more or at least equally important as what happens inside it," he pointed out.
Other participants agreed that skills acquired through the MEPI programme should be valued by employers as well.
HRH The Prince Edward Earl of Wessex has arrived in Slovenia where he will be meeting Award participants from around the country in Tivoli Park, Ljubljana, and learning more about the activities they are undertaking as part of their Award programmes. @UKinSlovenia @RoyalFamily pic.twitter.com/V71RG1qSGF— International Award (@intaward) May 15, 2019
Gregor Deleja, the head teacher of the Celje Center Secondary School, called for education reforms and stressed the importance of the inclusive leadership concept.
He also said that the MEPI programme enabled the young to develop an inclusive way of thinking and solidarity as well as perseverance in pursuing their goals.
NLB bank chairman Blaž Brodnjak said that in this instant-gratification culture, the educational system should focus on the importance of patience and effort in achieving long-term goals, promoting deeper feedbacks not just superficial and constant likes as seen on social networks.
The Earl of Wessex is visiting Slovenia at the invitation of the president to celebrate the first Slovenia-UK Friendship Day and promote the importance of non-formal education.
He and Pahor planted an alder tree symbolising the friendship in the city's most popular park. This particular type of alder tree is indigenous to Slovenia and thrives in wet soil.