Organised by the European Commission DG Education and Culture, the meeting with civil society organisations took place on 19 October in Brussels. Over 70 participants from 40 organisations representing schools, higher education, adult and distance learning and vocational education and training came together to discuss the role that civil society organisations can play to foster inclusive education as well as citizenship and EU fundamental values.
Organised around four topics of discussion, the main messages from the meeting include:
Learning objectives, content and methods
Citizenship education should be value-based (human rights and civil rights approach), provide learners with capacity for rhetoric and argumentation which is rooted in critical thinking
It should enable individuals to live together in a society peacefully and it should teach them empathy and solidarity
Citizenship education should be participatory, interactive and transversal to school life
Role of educators and school leaders
They should be role models in terms of their own behaviour in and out of educational spaces
School leaders and teachers should contribute to creating democratic and learning environments
Trans-sectorial partnerships to innovate, diversify and implement effective teaching and learning methods should be supported
Need to create platforms and spaces for exchange, sharing experiences and successful methods at grass root level
Formal learning environment and its links with the non-formal sector
Education structures need to be open to many actors in the community and establish a strong cooperation with the non-formal sector.
Community involvement is needed to instil a feeling of ownership and belonging to the learner's community. Structures themselves need to reflect the diversity of the communities they are in (i.e. methods to combat segregation need to be put into place)
Need to recognise skills acquired through informal learning and non-formal education. Extra-curricular should be considered as part of a holistic educational approach.
Governance, funding, structural issues
Inclusive and citizenship education is a priority in its right and needs accountable leaders in charge
All institutions and stakeholders at all levels need a common long-term, comprehensive and sustainable strategy for inclusive citizenship education
A governance for inclusive education is needed: reinforced cooperation and capacity building mechanisms (with appropriate funding) to bridge government, at EU and national levels, civil society and other stakeholders
This meeting is part of the reinforced dialogue with the civil society launched in 2015, which focuses on the follow-up of the Paris Declaration which aims at mobilising education to promote EU common values and inclusion as a way to foster social inclusion and prevent violent radicalisation.
The conclusions of the meeting will feed in the future work of the Commission on a EU policy framework for promoting inclusive education and common EU values through formal education and non-formal learning.