EPA had the opportunity to participate at this important high-level event representing one of the main stakeholder groups of education. The event was preceded by the kick-off event of our Year of Equitable Access to Education to help highlight parents’ wishes for the European Education Area planned to be created by 2025. The summit was hosted by Tibor Navracsics, EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, and took place on 25 January 2018, in Brussels. It invited EU education ministers (22 of them actually were present), education practitioners, stakeholders and business leaders to explore: how better to address inequality in education systems, how citizens can benefit from a future European Education Area, how education can help transmit our common values and what competences will be needed for the decades to come.
After the welcoming words of Commissioner Navracsics dedicated to the creation of value-based, innovative inclusive education in Europe, Samantha Cristoforetti, a true European and experienced astronaut took the stage for an inspirational speech. She talked about the importance to find the right balance of STEM and humanities without any gender-bias. She also talked about the need to get rid of useless elements in curricula and to focus on collaborative skills that are necessary to ‘navigate this spaceship called Earth that we are astronauts of’. She clearly made the link between her life success and the support he got from her family especially in the form of a family ethos that fostered her learning.
Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO invited Europe to join their efforts to find global solutions, to put a strong emphasis on ethical issues and to provide quality education. She called for innovation that is sustainable and innovative, to focus on vocational education and skills for employability as well as building tolerance to fight the current trneds of increasing racism and xenophobia. She applauded a focus on lifelong learning and also the validation of skills that are not documented. Her most important message was to understand that Europe can only thrive if we build relations and collaborate with other regions of the world.
The high-level panels as well as parallel sessions highlighted certain elements of the four main topics. The speakers included Ministers and Members of the European Parliament as well as successful practitioners from various areas – entrepreneurs, intellectuals, professional educators, theatre directors. The concluding sentence of one of the parallel sessions was that if you want to provide the best life chances for your children, establish your own school or move to Finland. The Summit raised hopes that there is a shared wish of most European countries to change this, and to provide equity, namely an education for a bright future for all children.
Martine Reicherts, Director General of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture stated in her concluding statement that education is back on track in the EU after 60 years, and now it is up to us to deliver. She highlighted the need to set the right goals, to think outside the box, and to create an area where learning is not hampered by borders geographical or other. They promised a 2nd Education Summit to be held in the Autumn of 2019 and to work on the necessary steps towards the European Education Area. Ms. Reicherts is retiring at the end of January 2018, her drive and vision will be missed, but hopefully delivery on the goals will still be a reality.
More information on the Summit can be found on the EC website: https://ec.europa.eu/education/event/first-european-education-summit_en
EPA's position on the European Education Area can be found here: