It is essential that service activities have learning benefits for the student. Otherwise, they are not experiential learning (hence not CAS) and have no particular claim on students’ time. This rules out mundane, repetitive activities, as well as “service” without real responsibility. A learning benefit that enriches the student personally is in no way inconsistent with the requirement that service be unpaid and voluntary.

The general principle, sketched out in the section “The nature of creativity, action, service”, that the “rights, dignity and autonomy of all those involved [in service activities] are respected”, means, among other things, that the identification of needs, towards which a service activity will be directed, has to involve prior communication and full consultation with the community or individual concerned. This approach, based on a collaborative exchange, maximizes both the potential benefits to the recipients and the learning opportunities for the students.

Ideally, such prior communication and consultation will be face-to-face and will involve the students themselves. Where this is not possible, schools need to work with appropriate partners or intermediaries, such as NGOs (non-governmental organizations), and make every effort to ensure both that the service provided is appropriate, and that the students are able to understand the human consequences of their work, for both individuals and communities.

CAS Guide 2010

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