On the programme:
• Welcome by president Juncker (videomessage); focus on employability, and the role of education and training for growth.
• Welcome by deputy director of DG EAC Jens Nymand-Christensen.
• TED-like talks, performed mostly by members of the European Commission Thematic Working Groups
Marco Snoek (University Amsterdam) informs about a policy guide, to be released in November 2015, as a result of the activities of the EU Working Group on School Education. He uses the image of the teacher having to be ‘Superman’. The main message related to teachers’ profession is the need for a continuum of professional development, and the need for a collaborative approach.
Mitja Jermol (Centre for knowledge transfer at Jozef Stefan Institute, Slovenia) talks about open educational resources. He insists on the need for open education to be personalized (not mass education); this is being made possible thanks to artificial intelligence, analyzing and interpreting what is available in open resources in all languages, in all alphabets, trough all sources.
Florian Pecenka, Austrian Permanent Representation, Brussels, Belgium, is part of the Thematic Working Group on the Modernization of Higher Education. He focuses on the question of dropout in Higher Education. What is the definition of a drop out? There is no uniform European definition. Why does someone drop out of university? There is a lot of data available, but it is not comparable. When does someone drop out? Most drop out in their first year, and next in the fourth year! The Commission is going to publish a study by the end of 2015 on the issue of dropout and completion of Higher Education. The main recommendation of the working group and of the study is that talking brings people together: need for cooperation with stakeholders.
Lisa Serero, Responsible for development, CoExist, France, talks about racism, acts of violence, stereotypes. The aim of CoExist is to breakdown stereotypes in school classrooms.
• Panel on inclusion
The panel reflects on the follow-up of the Paris Declaration and focuses on enhancing inclusion, fundamental values and active citizenship and the role for education, training and youth work. Focus on the role of faithbased organizations in a merely secular society. Presentations of best practices in education:
Jagdish S. Gundara, President of the International Association of Intercultural Education,United Kingdom. Importance of lifelong learning, of connection of urban and rural communities, the importance of education, training and skills. Education has its own intrinsic value; we should not miss out this larger importance of education. Need for teacher training and education has to be intercultural. Now, knowledge is centric; knowledge has to be universally embedded.
Youssef Himmat, Vice-President of the Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisations, talks about interfaith or interbelief dialogue. They provide, as an NGO, training to teachers; attention for the impact of young pupils themselves. Young people can be actors of change, within formal education.
Robin Sclafani, Director at CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe. Education has always been key for Jewish integration. Education can contribute to create equitable and safe environments.
Yvonne Heselmans, Executive Director of the International Debate Education Association IDEA-NL, The Netherlands. Paris declaration has to support youth workers in a professional way. Teachers should be empowered to conduct debate in the classroom on sensitive issues (f.i. Mohammed cartoons). Critical thinking skills!
Christer Mattsson, University of Göteborg. Founder of the Tolerance Project
Sweden. The Paris declaration is a step in the right direction.
• Interactive workshops on the priority areas:
1. Basic skills for all
2. High-level skills for the knowledge society
3. Towards more inclusive learning environments
4. Promoting active citizenship and fundamental values, such as tolerance, non-discrimination and respect of diversity through education
5. Innovation in education: better ways to learn, teach and build partnerships in the digital age
6. Empowering teachers and trainers for better learning outcomes
7. Making learning pathways more flexible: recognition and validation of all forms of learning
8. Innovative and sustainable investment in education and training
9. Cohesive communities: promoting youth participation in democratic life
10. The impact of sports and culture related activities on learning outcomes
Main findings of the workshops:
Need for mutiannual funding of projects in order to allow sustainable growth
Stop focussing on innovation as a goal in itself, rather value continuity
More attention for wellbeing of teachers and learners
Develop critical thinking, medialiteracy, digital literacy
High-level round table including political representatives of the European Commission, the European Parliament and current and future Council Presidencies to look ahead on how to take forward the conclusions of the Forum in the context of EU policies and programmes.
• Closing high-level panel:
Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport. Insists on the two main pillars in education: employability and citizenship, mutually reinforcing. The role of the European Commission in the field of education is to set the agendas (through roadmaps such as ET 2020), to allow exchange (through organization of conferences) and to support financially.
Silvia Costa, Chair of the Committee on Culture and Education, European Parliament. Rather pessimistic speech: insists on the high number of NEETs, on the evolution of Europe in two different velocities, on the lack of money. Tools such as the Youth Guarantee or dual system might help, but will not resolve all the problems. Need to open up the views, to value ‘other’ talents, such as transversal competences, understanding, arts, ..
Claude Meisch, Minister for National Education, Children and Young People and Minister for Higher Education and Research, Luxembourg. Main message: the learner has to be at the center.
Jet Bussemaker, Minister for Education, Culture and Science, Netherlands. Because there is less money, cooperation is needed. Cooperation between education and business; cooperation withing education in transitions from one level to another. Prioirities of the Dutch Presidency: development of skills in informal, formal and non-formal learning; digital learning; follow up of the Yerevan conference; education for migrants/refugiees.