European Commission Colloquium Underlines the Importance of Education

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A Way to Prevent Violent Radicalisation

On May 26 a colloquium was held in Brussels on “Promoting Inclusion and Fundamental Values through Education. The objectives of the Colloquium were to take stock of progress since the adoption of the Paris Declaration at EU, national, regional and local level. During the colloquium to showcase some innovative and inspiring practices and to contribute to key policy messages to support further the implementation of the Paris Declaration on promoting citizenship and the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education. In short, this declaration calls for the mobilisation of the education sector at European, national, regional and local level on the following four objectives:

  1. Ensuring young people acquire social, civic and intercultural competences, by promoting democratic values and fundamental rights, social inclusion and non-discrimination, as well as active citizenship
  2. Enhancing critical thinking and media literacy, particularly in the use of the Internet and social media, so as to develop resistance to of discrimination and indoctrination
  3. Fostering the education of disadvantaged children and young people, by ensuring that our education and training systems address their needs
  4. Promoting intercultural dialogue through all forms of learning in cooperation with other relevant policies and stakeholders

The declaration was adopted in March 2015 and considering the events occurring worldwide, there is an urgent need to accelerate actions on the ground, while seeking long term solutions that focus on strengthening the role of education in fostering inclusion and promoting fundamental values.

EuroClio ambassador Sylvia Semmet attended the academic conference in Brussels. She listened, with much interest, to the speakers there. According to Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, “we need to defend our values”. He stressed the importance of linking “the European to the local”. Barry van Driel, Secretary General of the International Association for Intercultural Education, and International Director for Teacher Training and Curriculum Development at the Anne Frank House, linked this to the classroom, encouraging teachers to address political aspects. He also highly promoted the professionalisation of teachers. According to him EuroClio stands as a good player in the field and as one to provide good practice.

Critical thinking and media literacy play important roles in promoting inclusion and fundamental values. Thomas Myrup Kristensen, Managing Director for EU Affairs and Head of Facebook’s Brussels office, promoted digital literacy as a core issue and stressed that Facebook was looking for partners from civil society  to promote this. In the closing remarks, Martine Reicherts, Director-General for Education and Culture, European Commission, put the focus on “collaboration as the key“.

For more information about the colloquium or video’s of the speakers, you can read the Background Note or the Leaflet below, or go to the official webpage of the European Commission.

One year since Paris Declaration…what has changed?

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One year ago the EU Education Ministers and Commissioner Navracsics adopted the Paris Declaration on ‘Promoting citizenship and the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education‘. This declaration showed Europe’s determination to stand shoulder to shoulder in support and safeguard of the fundamental values that lie at the heart of the EU: respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights. The Ministers and the Commissioner called ‘for renewed efforts to reinforce the teaching and acceptance of these common fundamental values and laying the foundations for more inclusive societies through education – starting from an early age.’ They agreed upon a number of actions at the national, regional and local level and on the European level. Click here to read the declaration again.

Now the question arises: how have European countries addressed the Paris Declaration objectives in their education policies?

The Eurydice leaflet offers a short overview of recent education policy developments in European countries since the adoption of the Paris Declaration. In the leaflet the positions in multiple countries, like Spain, Bulgaria and Finland, are described. The good news is that at least two-thirds of European countries have developed their education policies. How they have done this differed per country.

Helsingor Declaration

EuroClio very much welcomed the renewed emphasis on citizenship and values, which are fundamental in constructing education for key competences (knowledge, skills and attitudes), in particular social and civic competences.

On 20-25 April 2015, the Association brought together 157 history, heritage and citizenship educators, many of which being representatives of larger associations and civil society organisations, as well as experts and representatives of inter-governmental organisations from over 40 countries to draft a common response to the EU Education Ministers‟ declaration.

The occasion was the 22nd Annual Professional Development and Training Conference “Roads to Democracy: Can History Teaching Pave the Way?” in Helsingor, Denmark, which EuroClio organised together with the Danish History Teachers‟ Association.

The declaration was drafted following two preparatory conference days, including key-note lectures on responsible history education and the role of history education in advancing open and democratic societies in Europe today and practitioners‟ workshops on best practices in history and citizenship education. A full-morning world cafe session in which all participants were able to constructively analyse and discuss the ministerial statements resulted in the following identification of needs, proposal for actions and suggested ways forward.

More information about the Helsingor Declaration is available here.

European Civil Society and European Commission Cooperate on Values Education

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In March 2015 the EU Ministers of Education issued their Paris Declaration on Education for fundamental values of tolerance, non-discrimination and inclusion. EuroClio responded during the Annual Conference in Denmark in April, and issued its own Helsingor Declaration (available in .pdf below). Throughout September-December, EuroClio members and ambassadors had been active in discussions with members of the European Parliament and other EU officials to promote the role of history education, as identified in the Helsingor Declaration. The European Commission Directorate General for Education and Culture (DG EAC) seeks to effectively implement the recommendations of the Paris Declaration and on 15th December, EuroClio Founder and Special Advisor Joke van der Leeuw-Roord was invited to participate in a dedicated session to map the next steps as well as long-term planning on these themes. The meeting collected a range civil society organisations, many of whom members of the Lifelong Learning Platform, who shared their views and plans. In early 2016, DG EAC will publish its action plans in this field.

European Education, Training and Youth Forum Proceedings Available

On 19-20 October, the European Commission organised the annual Education, Training and Youth Forum. European Civil Society had an exceptional opportunity this year to share its practice and express its concerns on the key themes of the March Paris Declaration: Fundamental values of tolerance, non-discrimination and inclusion. EuroClio had an opportunity to share the practice of one Danish history educators, Mr Morten Smith-Hansen, who teaches students in Copenhagen how to think critically and make the connections from the present to the past. The forum report can be accessed here. The proceedings, discussions and TED-like presentations held at the Forum are made accessible here.