The right to education is a fundamental component of the European Union. It has the potential to give every woman and man opportunities to develop as a citizen but also to contribute directly to social change, development, social mobility, poverty reduction and sustainable growth.
The leaked draft of the European Commission Strategy was nothing but a disappointment for all of us who campaigned for a progressive and Social Europe that protects the rights of all its citizens.
Access to quality education is far from a certainty for many people across the Union. The financial crisis may be behind us and the economy on an upward trend, but the scars left are still visible. The budget cuts in education, the privatisation of schools and the increased segregation of children based on geographic or financial constraints are just a few examples of the damage done. It’s time to put an end to these dangerous trends.
Our societies are becoming increasingly polarised, divided and as a consequence, the willingness to reach intercultural understanding is fading away. Educational activities aimed at facilitating intercultural understanding should be a core element of European policies, as requested in the Paris Declaration given that this is a basic condition for living together in peace.
We are now looking into the composition of the new parliament to find allies who consider education and learning to be a key social equaliser which must be of equal benefit to all. We work throughout Europe to offer targeted support to people from disadvantaged and marginalised groups and at the same time, we encourage cross-sectoral cooperation between all forms of learning that brings down the existing obstacles and ensure all citizens have the opportunity to succeed.
Teachers and educators continue to suffer from the austerity measures. It is of utmost importance to ensure that the ones who shape the minds of future generations have access to continuous professional development that will equip them with the tools and methods to implement inclusive and quality education centred around the specific needs of each learner.
It’s time for Europe to adopt a growth model driven by a knowledge-based economy which takes stock of the realities of the constantly evolving labour markets. We strongly support the idea of lifelong learning as a tool to enhance employability, competencies and skills throughout peoples’ lives. Quality learning and training opportunities must be made available to everyone wishing to develop their digital and numeracy skills.
SOLIDAR Foundation calls on all Prime Ministers and their candidates for Vice-Presidents of the European Commission to keep investment in quality education high on the EU agenda and to deliver to citizens a comprehensive and well explained strategic vision that will outline concrete actions for a Social and Sustainable Europe.