The First European Education Summit lays the foundations of the European Education Area 2025

The first ever European Education Summit took place in Brussels on 25 January. Entitled “Laying the foundations of the European Education Area: for an innovative, inclusive and values-based education”, the Summit was hosted by Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport. Around 450 participants – including EU education ministers, practitioners, stakeholders and business leaders – discussed how citizens can benefit from a future European Education Area, how education can help transmit our common values, and what competencies will be needed for the decades to come.

© European Union , 2018 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: Jennifer Jacquemart

The keynote addresses were given by Samantha Cristoforetti, ESA Astronaut, who stated that a cultural shock should be a mandatory experience for every youngster, and Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, who advocated for education as the only solution for the challenges Europe is facing. Krasimir Valchev, Minister of Education and Science, on behalf of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, also addressed the audience.

The Summit opened with the high-level panel discussion “Countdown to 2025: a vision for the European Education Area” with the participation of European Commissioner Tibor Navracsics, Petra Kammerevert, Chair of Committee on Culture and Education of the European Parliament, and the Ministers of Education from France, Sweden and Hungary.

“As we look to Europe’s future, we need to equip ourselves with an ambitious, shared agenda for how we can use learning as a driver for unity. Education is key because it is education that helps us adapt to a rapidly changing world, to develop a European identity, to understand other cultures and to gain the new skills one needs in a society that is mobile, multicultural and increasingly digital,” stated Commissioner Navracsics.

“The European Education Area 2025”, “Basic Skills and Inclusive Education”, and “A Glimpse of the Future: what skills for the decade to come?” were the main topics of numerous parallel panel discussions, masterclasses and workshops held during the Summit.

The Summit explored how to capture the latest knowledge and insights into education and how to turn our aspirations into a reality, as it is only through education that citizens can be equipped with the skills to actively contribute to today’s societies.

This reflection took place in the context of the work towards a European Education Area 2025 that will make mobility a reality for all, create a network of European Universities and promote lifelong learning.

Cristina Gamna Marchini, Head of School and Education Department at FAI – Fondo Ambiente Italiano, a Member Organisation from Europa Nostra, was among the speakers of the masterclass “The power of culture to foster cohesion” and presented the Cultural Heritage Education Programme “Apprendisti Ciceroni®”, which received an EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award in 2016.

Piet Jaspaert, Vice-President of Europa Nostra, attended the Summit and applauded the European Commission initiatives to boost the European dimension of teaching. He also stated that the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 is a great opportunity for young generations to learn more about our common heritage, history and values, and strongly supported the EU proposal to promote teaching of these crucial topics. Piet Jaspaert also emphasised that the learning kit on Citizen Engagement and Education recently published by Europa Nostra also seeks to provide civil society organisations in the heritage field with useful and inspiring approaches to Education.

Martine Reicherts, Director General of DG Education and Culture of the European Commission, wrapped up the Forum stressing the exciting challenges Europe is currently experiencing and that after having clearly voiced our ambition and vision, it is now high time to deliver with concrete policy and funding.

The European Commission will inform the European Council of the outcomes of Summit on 15 February on the occasion of the next Education, Youth, Culture and Sports Council on education.

Over lunch, ministers will discuss increased cooperation in the field of education and higher education for inclusive, cohesive and innovative societies.

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