EU proposes greater cooperation on inclusive education, non-discrimination and civic competences
The European Commission's DG Education and Culture (DG EAC) published on 1 September a draft joint report with the Member States calling for strengthening cooperation in education and training up to 2020 and especially to promote social inclusion. This initiative is explicitly intended to tackle radicalisation in schools following the January 2015 attacks in Paris and Copenhagen and the March Joint Declaration of EU education ministers.
The report’s six new priorities are highly relevant for the integration of third-country nationals and their descendants by aiming to improve people’s skills and employment prospects and creating inclusive, innovative and digital learning environments, while at the same time cultivating fundamental values of equality, non-discrimination and active citizenship.
The six new priorities proposed by the Commission are:
1) Relevant and high-quality skills and competences, focusing on results, for employability, innovation and active citizenship;
2) Inclusive education, equality, non-discrimination and promotion of civic competences;
3) Open and innovative education and training, including by fully embracing the digital era;
4) Strong support for educators;
5) Transparency and recognition of skills and qualifications to facilitate learning and labour mobility; and
6) Sustainable investment, performance and efficiency of education and training systems.
Under Priority 2, the joint report and staff working document proposes to address concrete issues like:
• guaranteeing quality and inclusive mainstream education for the increasing diversity of learners;
• tackling discrimination, racism, segregation, bullying, violence and stereotypes;
• migrants’ effective acquisition of the language of learning and employment; and
• Promoting civic, intercultural, social and relational competences, mutual understanding and respect, and ownership of democratic values and fundamental rights.
European cooperation on education is conducted through Education and Training 2020 (ET2020) coordinated by the Commission. This cooperation is based on the exchange of best practices, information and advice for policy reforms. Beyond this exchange, EU education funds, Erasmus+, can fund cross-national exchanges, partnerships and innovation. EWSI monitors EU education cooperation most relevant for immigrant integration.
Tibor Navracsics, EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said: “Young Europeans are facing common challenges that need joint responses. The threat of radicalisation shows how urgently we need to improve education prospects across all our communities. Together with education ministers we will strengthen our joint work to reduce early school leaving, counter social exclusion and support diverse classrooms all over Europe."
In terms of next steps, the Council is expected to adopt the report by the end of the year. The report also proposes to set the new priorities for 5 years, replacing previous 3 year cycles, to enable a longer-term impact. In November 2015, the Commission will also present the 2015 Education and Training Monitor, a yearly analysis of progress towards education targets set under the Europe 2020 strategy. The main headline targets include early school leaving and completion of tertiary education levels. The Commission will shortly also put forward the draft EU Youth Report, focused on youth unemployment, social inclusion and youth participation.
As examples given by DG EAC, the EU has already supported more than 13200 projects about education for tolerance and inter-cultural understanding. Most recently, DG EAC funded SIRIUS, a European policy network on the education of children and young people with a migrant background, which produced policy briefs, policy recommendations and continued partnerships under Erasmus+.