Inclusive education

The European Commission has adopted three proposals to help build inclusive, cohesive societies through education and culture.

What is it about?

In December 2017, the European Council, European Parliament and European Commission fully endorsed the adoption of the European Pillar of social rights.  The agreement highlights the importance of the social, educational and cultural dimensions of EU policies in bringing Europeans together to build our common future.

The first principle of the European Pillar of social rights states that ''everyone has the right to quality and inclusive education, training and lifelong learning in order to maintain and acquire skills that enable them to participate fully in society and successfully manage transitions in the labour market''.

Promoting equity, social cohesion and active citizenship is one of the strategic objectives for cooperation in education and training at EU-level. The  European Commission and European Council’s 2015 joint report on implementing the so-called ''ET2020'' strategy has established ‘Inclusive education, equality, equity, non-discrimination and the promotion of civic competences’ as a priority area for European cooperation in education and training.

The Europe 2020 strategy and ET2020 have set two main targets addressing inclusive education to be achieved across Europe by 2020:

In its contribution to the Gothenburg Social Summit of November 2017, the European Commission set out its vision for a European Education Area. This initiative stresses the value of good quality, inclusive education – from childhood – in laying the groundwork for social cohesion, social mobility and an equitable society. This vision was further supported in a Commission Communication stating that one of the objectives of the European Education Area should be to support Member States in improving the inclusive nature of their education and training systems.

Following proposals from the Commission, several policy initiatives have already been adopted:

In May 2018, the Commission adopted a proposal for a new Erasmus programme , which doubles the programme’s budget. As the current Erasmus+ programme already enables millions of young Europeans to study, train or learn abroad, the new programme is expected to reach an even greater number of people – from all social backgrounds.

How is it achieved?

Member States' progress towards achieving inclusive education is monitored through the European Semester process and the Education and Training Monitor. The Monitor also provides evidence on the role of education in fighting inequalities and promoting social inclusion.

The Commission has also been implementing a wide range of actions in this field, such as:

  • setting up an expert Working Group on Promoting Common Values and Inclusive Education, which has produced an online compendium of good practices in this field;
  • an initiative involving positive ‘role models’ to promote social inclusion, and to prevent exclusion and violent radicalisation among young people ;
  • a toolkit for youth workers working with young people at risk of marginalisation;
  • the European Award for Social Inclusion through Sport.

Furthermore, the Erasmus+ programme supports initiatives and activities to develop innovative policies and practices at grass-root level that prioritise social inclusion.

What's next?

The Commission is working on the following developments:

  • the expansion of the European Toolkit for Schools, an online platform for schools and teachers. The tookit offers good practice examples and resources for introducing collaborative approaches in schools, in order to improve inclusiveness and provide equal opportunities;
  • the expansion of the online eTwinning platform - which aims to connect teachers and classrooms across Europe, and to support teacher training courses on citizenship education ;
  • incentives for higher education institutions to award credits for volunteering and the development of curricula that combine academic content with civic engagement;
  • the implementation of the European Solidarity Corps - a European Union initiative that creates opportunities for young people to volunteer or work in projects, in their own country or abroad, which have community or regional benefit;
  • the piloting and roll-out of a new Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange.This initiative will enable young people in Europe and the Southern Mediterranean to exchange views and ideas through structured and facilitated web-conferences – with the aim of enhancing intercultural awareness and tolerance.