Joining forces, several civil society organisations invited European and international institutions and various stakeholders to debate a common approach to addressing the links between education and culture. The purpose of coming together for this event was to discuss possible synergies in light of the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage and the European Commission’s 2017 Communication on “Strengthening European Identity through Education and Culture”, as well as to react to the proposed revision of the key competences and to the future of learning package. To this extent, recent policy developments prompted the organisers to acknowledge the need to rebuild on past common positions, widen their scope, and formulate new recommendations to policy-makers. EPA's President, Vice President of Lifelong Learning Platform, Eszter Salamon was invited to present the LLL-P position on key competences and learning environments as a speaker of the event.
All organisers call upon the European institutions to enhance synergies as much as possible, starting with a deeper collaboration between education and culture policymakers within the institutions themselves. Recent policy reforms at EU level on validation should pave the way for a greater involvement of cultural actors and creative competences in validation mechanisms. To this extent, more skills call for more learning opportunities of all types, an ideal horizon which can only become reality with investment and a genuinely collaborative and cross-sectoral approach.
The day opened with an intervention by Ms Erna Hennicot-Schoepges, former Minister of Education, Culture and Research of Luxembourg, who recalled that true partnership is possible with common goals and intent within the European arena. In her keynote speech, she addressed the pressing need to boost national investments in education and refocus educational curricula on individual capacity-building from an early age, acknowledging the vital contribution that music, arts and culture can make in this regard. She called for education and culture to become a truly common EU strategy. Mr Yasen Gyurov, Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU, stressed the importance of inclusion through access to quality education and making the best use of digital technology in education to both prepare people for the jobs of the future and support their own personal development. Mr Jens Nymand-Christensen, Deputy Director General of DG EAC, pointed out that we all should embrace cultural diversity as a way of enhancing people’s resilience and immunity to extremist voices. Paolo Fontani, Director of UNESCO Liaison Office in Brussels, emphasised the need for a profound rethinking of what education is for, and of bringing together the culture and education spheres in school programming and curricula development, while bearing in mind that learning not only happens at school. David Lopez, President of the Lifelong Learning Platform, elaborated on this recalling that a lifelong learning approach - linking together formal, non-formal and informal learning - should be promoted and for that adequate investment, as well as genuine dialogue between institutions and civil society actors in the education and cultural fields, are essential.
The meeting was highly valuable in contributing to the definition of a new position for civil society organisations and stakeholders vis-à-vis the benefits of more robust synergies between education and culture. The need for a substantiated step forward led the participants to identify common issues and shared solutions in order to render all learners visible. We should all envision mutual forms of communication, and develop a new language that would eventually inform the partnership. The role of teachers - and of teaching in general - was immensely valued during informal talks, with the argument that the notion of ‘teacher’ should be widened to educators of all forms, including actors in the culture sector. A great role in the definition of new competences shall be played by the digital revolution, which encompasses all aspects of life, (including museums and libraries) and greatly promotes culture and learning opportunities. Culture and education join forces in that they push forward new examples of learning mobility: cultural awareness and appreciation of cultural diversity are learning schemes that Europe cannot afford to overlook.