I feel honoured to greet the mothers and fathers who are members of our valued member, FAPEL on the occasion of the association’s 30th Anniversary.
The big family of European parents’ associations, EPA was also founded in the period when FAPEL was born, 1985. Something was happening all over Europe in the middle of the 1980’s as well as in other parts of the world. It concluded with the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most widely accepted human rights document in the world. For us it is a very important document because – while being part of the legislation of each European country - it also defines the rights of parents and gives us rights, duties and responsibilities in raising our children. Parents’ associations in Europe have been active in the past decades to demand governments to ensure our rights and give us the necessary support also set forth in the Convention in fulfilling our duties and taking our responsibility as parents for the best interest of our children.
The world has changed in these 30 years and our present members – probably the children of the founders of FAPEL – are facing challenges nobody dreamed about in the middle of the 1980’s. The recent crisis - that is not even over for some EU countries including Spain – drew our attention to education even more than before. In the past 30 year Europe lost its competitive edge and fell behind the USA and the Far East because our school systems were not ready for the challenges of the new era. To start with: involving migrant parents in the activities of a parents’ association has been a great challenge for EPA members all over Europe. The generation of today’s parents live in a world, the digital age that is not their homeland, a strange field for most of us, but we see that our children are the natives of this world and we have to find new parental role models to raise them accepting that in certain areas we are being educated by them.
The EU realised how important knowledge is when setting the Lisbon goals but failed to fulfil them as they did not put emphasis on school and even pre-school education. The past decade proved what we parents always knew, namely that you cannot build a stronghold of knowledge on weak ground and supporting universities and tertiary students is not enough. Thus the 7-year period of EU policy that has just started set goals in school education for the first time in the history of the Union.
To make our children and the whole of Europe successful the now grown-up parents’ association have a great task to do. We have to use the decades of experiences and the acknowledged status we have to make the transition from raising the voice of parents to raising parents to realise that they all have a day-to-day duty and responsibility within schools, in forming new curricula for the digital age, in preventing early school leaving and also to accept that parents are learners, too, as in the 21st century life-long learning is a necessary part of our lives.
FAPEL and EPA has been working together for many years now to raise the voice of parents to make governments and EU-level decision makers be aware of the changes necessary in school systems to really make parental involvement and distributed leadership a reality. The real task ahead is to make all parents active in carrying out their parental duties. The next 30 years will necessarily start with this and I’m positive that more involved parents, exercising their democratic duties and rights, will only make parents’ movements in Europe stronger.
I wish everybody in the FAPEL family another successful 30 years and I hope your children will read a similar greeting by my children in the 60th anniversary magazine.
presidentEuropean Parents’ Association