On 25 January the Dutch Minister for Education, Ms Jet Bussemaker, presented the Dutch Presidency priorities in terms of education to the MEPs of the CULT committee at the European Parliament. Their educational key priorities are three-fold: building cognitive, non-cognitive and social skills, combatting radicalisation and coping with migration. More attention will be paid to developing the skills needed to link society and labour market. She also recognizes that in order to combat the current challenge we need people who are not just creative and pragmatic, but people who are also flexible and critical, who can work together and who have broader notion of citizenship and social skills.
With regards to skills, the Council will explore the link between education, the labour market and society and how to explore these links the best, which is in line with the New Skills Agenda (to be launched by the European Commission in May 2016). The Dutch Presidency is organizing two conferences:
SOLIDAR Foundation welcomes the focus on the skills and competence development and calls on the Presidency to include amongst the priorities the mutual recognition of qualifications. In SOLIDAR Foundation's view, the development of social, civic and intercultural competences should take a higher priority on education agendas, not only within formal education settings but also within non-formal and informal learning settings.
Concerning the prevention of radicalization, Ms Bussemaker declared that it is very important that radicalization stays in the spot light. She would like to stress three points from the Paris Declaration (which followed after the Paris attacks in 2015):
During the Council meetings, Member States will be able to exchange best practices and to share experiences and which priority areas they have introduced these themes in. It is Dutch Presidency full intention that Member states receive a little coaching into taking follow-up actions of the Paris Declaration.
Last but not least, the Education Council will also focus on migration. In particular, how Member States can help each other in finding suitable solutions in integrating migrants and refugees into education (this question was already raised under the Luxemburgish Presidency in their last Council). Given the recent developments, it is a real added value to share these practices. Finally, Ms Bussemaker stated that their social inclusion is of great importance.
SOLIDAR Foundation is pleased that this Presidency seeks to greater promote migrants’ and refugees social inclusion through, amongst others, education and training. Education is not only a motor of integration and social inclusion, but can also reduce social inequalities and can be used as a tool to combat radicalisation. SOLIDAR Foundation believes that in light of the rise of radicalization and extremism, citizenship education should be recognized and better included in the school national curricula. Schools and other educational establishments play a pre-eminent role in the development of a resilient community that upholds the values of non-violence, liberty, democracy, rule of law, respect for human and fundamental rights and tolerance. Furthermore, civic education promotes active citizenship and solidarity and thus fosters the socio-cultural integration and inclusive education of migrants. Furthermore, teachers and educators should be given concrete tools, methods and time to take action to tackle discriminations, stereotypes and prejudices in all educational settings.
Photo © European Union 2016 - Source : EP.