Teachers and educators for democratic Europe

Teachers and educators for democratic Europe

Education, training and lifelong learning have received a lot of attention recently at the European level. EU leaders reaffirmed their commitment in Gothenburg last year when they released a common declaration that identifies education and skills as a priority for European cooperation and calls for the creation of a European Education Area 2025. This document and subsequent communications released by the European Commission highlights the need for the empowerment of young people, in particular by encouraging them to participate in civic and democratic life. To achieve this the strategy aims to promote European values and citizenship education.

Meanwhile, in May 2018 the European Parliament adopted the report on Modernisation of Education that underlines the importance of reshaping and investing in teacher education, encouraging teachers’ continuing professional development, and providing them with opportunities to participate in international teacher exchanges. SOLIDAR Foundation conducted the monitoring in 2017 that on one hand confirms a huge pool of expertise when it comes to learning methods of skills, competencies and knowledge for democratic culture among non-formal and informal education providers, and on the other hand the numerous policy gaps and severe lack of education and training for teachers. Organised Civil Society agrees that addressing these gaps is not possible without a strong investment in lifelong learning as well as long-term improvements in teachers’ working conditions.

On Thursday 27 September, from 4 to 6pm, SOLIDAR Foundation and the European Parliament’s Youth Intergroup organised a roundtable discussion in the European Parliament in Brussels that brought together policymakers, civil society representatives and experts to identify the main challenges in the teaching profession related to the promotion of democratic culture and the values of the European Union and how the EU can address the issue. Additionally, we explored how the policymakers and civil society can cooperate in supporting teachers and educators in accessing professional development to enable them to effectively deliver and promote the EU project at the national and regional level.

During the roundtable, S&D MEP Brando Benifei emphasised the need to have equal access to and inclusiveness in education for all through the strengthening of the first principle of the European Pillar of Social Rights which guarantees quality and inclusive education, training and life-long learning to participate fully in society. Teach for Belgium director Caroline de Cartier and European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE-CSEE) Programme Officer Ekaterina Efimenko both called upon greater community-based collaboration for training support and programmes that involve a whole-school approach with parents, students, teachers, employers and institutions. The roundtable concluded with comments from Multicultural Centre Prague Director Zuzana Schreiberova on the situation regarding inclusive education and democratic participation for Roma pupils in the Czech Republic, explaining that they are often marginalised from other students, an issue mirrored in Belgium in the less diverse schools in poorer areas of the country.

The roundtable discussion gave SOLIDAR Foundation and participants an opportunity to discover best practices and solutions at national, regional and EU level. As a European umbrella organisation, we need to look for sustainable ways to enable further cooperation between public authorities and civil society organisations (and specifically between formal and non-formal education) to strengthen teachers’ support and continuous professional development. Additionally, cross-sectoral partnerships and upscaling of programmes at a national level are needed to ensure teachers and educators have the necessary tools to become active citizens and promote EU values and projects.

For more information contact Lucie Susova (lucie.susova@solidar.org)

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