One year after the adoption of the Paris Declaration on promoting citizenship and the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education, the Commission substantially enhanced its support to inclusive education.
Upon the initiative of French Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem and Commissioner Tibor Navracsics, the Paris Declaration – adopted at the Informal Meeting of the EU Education Ministers in Paris on 17 March 2015 – gave the strong signal that, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of January 2015, Ministers wanted to boost EU-level cooperation on four overarching priorities:
- 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
- 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
- Fostering the education of disadvantaged children and young people, by ensuring that our education and training systems address their needs
- Promoting intercultural dialogue through all forms of learning in cooperation with other relevant policies and stakeholders
As a follow-up, the Commission and the Council have – in November 2015 – jointly decided to adapt their policy cooperation in the fields of education and training (ET 2020) and youth to give priority attention to the implementation of the Paris Declaration. In 2016, two dedicated expert groups were launched – one focusing on education and training and the other on youth work – to accelerate the exchange of good practices, inspire policymakers on issues listed in the Declaration and prepare concrete policy guidance tools.
Most importantly, the Paris Declaration already had its effects in schools and other learning institutions throughout Europe. The overview of measures taken by the Member States in follow-up of the Paris Declaration, which was published today, shows a wide range of national education policy developments in all areas of the Declaration and the existence of a great number of inspiring practices. The common theme linking these initiatives is the promotion of citizenship and the shared values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education.
To underpin policy change with financial support, when allocating the € 400 million envelope for the 2016 Erasmus+ cooperation projects, priority will be given to those projects tackling the objectives of the Paris declaration. A specific call with a budget of € 13 million has just been released with the main objective of supporting dissemination, replication and mainstreaming of good practices at grass-root level in areas falling under the scope of the Paris Declaration. Promoting inclusion and fundamental values is one of the topics for another specific call for proposals on policy experimentations with a budget of € 14 million.
Further stimulating policy learning, the Commission today released a report by the Network of Experts on Social Aspects of Education and Training, which examines how European education systems can better prepare future citizens for tolerance, respect for diversity and civic responsibility. It highlights key success factors and includes successful examples from several different Member States that can serve as concrete sources of policy inspiration.