Research & Innovation - Participant Portal


TOPIC : Tackling inequalities at their roots: new policies for fairness in education from early age

Topic identifier: REV-INEQUAL-06-2016
Publication date: 14 October 2015

Types of action: RIA Research and Innovation action
Opening date:
27 October 2015
Deadline: 04 February 2016 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Societal Challenges
Work Programme Year: H2020-2016-2017
Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Despite ample analysis and many recommendations, educational inequalities remain pervasive in all European education systems regarding access, treatment and outcomes. European education systems need to cater for considerable diversity and enable all citizens to succeed and develop their full potential, irrespective of their background and according to their specific learning needs. Yet, whole social groups or sub-sets of the population persistently perform less well in education. There are also wide geographic disparities in education, between and within Member States, also regarding early-childhood (pre-primary) education. Finally, many learners with disabilities and/or special educational needs are still placed in segregated institutions or in mainstream settings with inadequate support, frequently leaving school with insufficient qualifications. The role of pre-primary and primary education has been recognised as being of fundamental importance in the educational cycle, as they lay the foundations for future educational and professional attainment. However, huge disparities exist within Europe also at this level.

The goal of reducing inequality and discrimination in European education systems is particularly challenging and relevant. However, it is both more efficient and equitable to invest in education in the very stages. Correcting failure later on is inefficient in comparison. Early childhood education facilitates later learning, and can produce large socio-economic returns, especially for disadvantaged children. Moreover, innovative practices for increasing the efficiency of education systems could also play an important role for equity.


The research to address this challenge should focus on one or two dimensions that have to be comprehensively addressed. They may include additional aspects which are relevant to addressing the specific challenge and they should take stock of most recent research in the field.

1) Reducing educational disparity and disadvantage from an early age

How can better or more enhanced educational and early childcare experiences for children improve the quality of their life? What policies are needed to reduce educational poverty in early childcare and early-childhood education? The research will focus on early childcare and early childhood education (pre-primary) and primary education. Proposals should build on the evidence of the successful contexts in which educational and care practices are demonstrating to be effective, considering the diversity of structures and agents influencing children’s learning and psychosocial capacities. Research will assess the successes or failures of educational and care policies against inequalities in a comparative way and analyse institutional, cultural and ideological resistance to changes towards equality. It will seek to generate concrete policy guidance for system-wide, integrated and - where necessary - cross-policy strategies for effective intervention at an early age. Particular attention should be devoted to strategies for strengthening inclusive care and education, and providing for the successful inclusion of learners in early childhood education and care. This could include combating social, economic, gender and spatial segregation and discrimination; promoting the success of migrant-background learners; better equipping institutions and educators to deal with diversity and social inequality; providing active and inclusive pedagogies and psychosocial care policies; promoting citizenship and enhancing democratic values; better measuring and monitoring inequalities in education, including at the regional and local level, whereby microsimulation could be envisaged as a tool. Research will help define the roles of care and education at an early age as an essential tool against inequalities, taking into account the wider context of societies and education in Europe, and also adequately addressing the specific problems encountered by marginalised people (for example Roma).

2) The contribution of innovative forms of organisation management or professional practices in educational systems to equity and efficiency

Research should investigate how innovative forms of organisation and management or innovative professional practices (e.g. teachers' training and professional development) in educational systems and institutions may contribute to equity and efficiency. The research should address barriers, including cultural ones, to innovation in education systems and propose strategies for overcoming them. It should concentrate on European countries with higher levels of educational poverty and include comparisons with countries outside of Europe when relevant. The focus should lie on (long term) outcomes in terms of level of competence of pupils and students, taking into account all relevant dimensions of outcomes and the pupils' background in European educational systems (ISCED 0 to 4). Possible dimensions to be analysed include: governance issues (decentralisation of responsibility for expenditure, decision-making, assessing results, allocating public funding); teachers training; organisation of the curriculum; degree of autonomy of schools; level of segregation; accountability issues; availability and quality of facilities, including ICT, innovative teaching/learning methods; gender balance, and learning environments, including the role of teachers and community members.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the order of EUR 5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. This does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact:

Education is one of the five key objectives targeted by the Europe 2020 strategy for growth essential to combat (social) inequality and social exclusion by equipping the next generation with the skills and qualifications needed to build a socially and economically strong Europe and to provide for social cohesion and democratic values. Further specific research, taking into account the recent economic, demographic and social developments in Europe, and recent advances in approaches to teaching and learning practices will contribute to the identification, transferability and up-take of effective and efficient measures to combat inequalities in education right from the early age, increase educational outcomes, promote social and inclusive innovation and foster broad cross-policies cooperation among researchers, stakeholders, practitioners and policy-makers. Research should provide knowledge, evidence and propose practical options of e-learning and pedagogical methods that will improve the educational systems across Europe. The research will advance knowledge and options for the educational system and its potential for reform in order to become more creative and cost effective.

Cross-cutting Priorities:

Open Innovation
Socio-economic science and humanities

Topic conditions and documents

Please read carefully all provisions below before the preparation of your application.

  1. List of countries and applicable rules for funding: described in part A of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme.
    Note also that a number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon 2020 projects (follow the links to Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Hong Kong & Macau, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Taiwan).

  2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in part B and C of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme.

    Proposal page limits and layout: Please refer to Part B of the standard proposal template.

  3. Evaluation

    3.1  Evaluation criteria and procedure, scoring and threshold: described in part H of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme

    3.2 Specific evaluation procedure: At least 1 proposal per topic will be selected for funding provided it passes all evaluation thresholds. 

    3.3 Submission and evaluation process: Guide to the submission and evaluation process

  4. Indicative timetable for evaluation and grant agreement:

    Information on the outcome of single-stage evaluation: maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
    Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.
    Members of consortium are required to conclude a consortium agreement, in principle prior to the signature of the grant agreement.
  5. Provisions, proposal templates and evaluation forms for the type(s) of action(s) under this topic:

    Research and Innovation Action:

    Specific provisions and funding rates
    Standard proposal template
    Standard evaluation form
    H2020 General MGA -Multi-Beneficiary
    Annotated Grant Agreement

  6. Additional provisions:

    Horizon 2020 budget flexibility

    Classified information

    Technology readiness levels (TRL) – where a topic description refers to TRL, these definitions apply.

    Financial support to Third Parties – where a topic description foresees financial support to Third Parties, these provisions apply.

  7. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions, and proposals must refer to measures envisaged. Where relevant, proposals should also provide information on how the participants will manage the research data generated and/or collected during the project, such as details on what types of data the project will generate, whether and how this data will be exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved.

    This topic participates per default in the open access to research data pilot which aims to improve and maximise access to and re-use of research data generated by projects:
    • The pilot applies to the data needed to validate the results presented in scientific publications. Additionally, projects can choose to make other data available for open access and need to describe their approach in a Data Management Plan (to be provided within six months after the project start).
    • Note that the evaluation phase proposals will not be evaluated more favourably because they are part of the Pilot, and will not be penalised for opting out of the Pilot.
    • Projects can at any stage opt-out of the pilot.
    The legal requirements for projects participating in this pilot are in the article 29.3 of the Model Grant Agreement.
    Further information on the Open Research Data Pilot is made available in the H2020 Online Manual.

  8. Additional documents

    H2020 Work Programme 2016-17: Introduction
    H2020 Work Programme 2016-17: Europe in a changing world - inclusive, innovative and reflective societies
    H2020 Work Programme 2016-17: Dissemination, Exploitation and Evaluation
    H2020 Work Programme 2016-17: General Annexes
    Legal basis: Horizon 2020 - Regulation of Establishment
    Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation
    Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Specific Programme

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