Promoting social inclusion is a core objective of both the Europe 2020 and ET2020 strategies. In recent years the European Commission has used its funding programmes in the field of Education and Training to promote social inclusion through a range of projects and activities. A strong social inclusion focus runs through the current Erasmus+ Programme and its predecessor Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP), both of which sought, or are seeking, to promote inclusion in a range of ways and contexts. One of these concerns the promotion of multilingualism as a means to advance social inclusion.
As the recent publication, “European Multilingualism, Experiences from the Lifelong Learning Programme – Key Activity 2 Languages 2007 – 2013”, sets out:
“…multilingualism can … play a key role in enhancing social cohesion, inclusiveness and intercultural dialogue as well as in creating opportunities to discover other values, beliefs and behaviours.”
To highlight how multiculturalism can help promote social inclusion, the publication presents a range of case studies drawn from activities and projects undertaken through the LLP. These include the MERIDIUM network, focused on issues around migration in the Mediterranean area and producing research and materials to promote multilingualism and linguistic diversity, and the LE-TPP network that focused on researching the framework of existing European and national policies on multilingualism and proposing areas where this could be strengthened.
Another project, ROMANINET, focused on promoting understanding of the Romani language and culture, setting up a Romani multimedia language course, a website, and three cross-content units on Roma and the Romani language to be used in primary education, secondary education and at universities. The case study below highlights a further project, SIGNS, that took a novel approach using contemporary art and design to promote multilingualism.
Activities undertaken through the Erasmus+ Programme and other initiatives will be building on such approaches to promoting multilingualism and cultural diversity, and it would be great to hear from any EPALE users involved in this field…
Ian Atkinson is Associate Director at Ecorys UK, where he leads on employment and labour markets policy and research work. His research background and interests include employability interventions, social inclusion and results-based payment mechanisms.