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First European Education Summit, Brussels 25/01/2018

On Thursday 25th of January we sent Elin, our current EVS volunteer to represent VIEWS International at the First European Education Summit in Brussels. This is what she wrote about the experience:

With 450 participants, 50 speakers and 22 Ministers present, there was a sense that this summit was the result of a lot of hard work, and that everyone was keen to make the most of the opportunity. The theme of the summit was to lay the foundations of the European Education Area – a strategy aimed at creating an education system that is inclusive, innovative and based on common European values.

The most inspiring speaker for me was Samantha Cristoferetti, a European Space Agency Astronaut from Italy who opened the summit by telling us how her education shaped her life and her opportunities. Having grown up in a small Italian mountain village, she told us how she never felt restricted from pursuing Maths and Science in school, later going on to graduate in mechanical engineering and becoming one of the first women to be a lieutenant and fighter pilot in the Italian Airforce. She emphasised that the time she spent studying and working in different countries was essential to her personal development and prepared her brilliantly for her career as an Astronaut. She stated that ‘culture shock should be a mandatory experience for all young people’, because they should learn to adapt, to explore and to be brave. This resonated with me especially, being someone who is spending time abroad and learning a new language right now!

Samantha’s declaration about ‘culture shock’ was repeated multiple times throughout the summit, as Ministers and speakers all agreed that the Erasmus Programme is one of Europe’s greatest successes. It was suggested that we should expand on this success by providing mobility opportunities to school pupils and teachers as well as students, with the hope that this would promote our common values and would increase exchange between different European countries. Lets hope that this enthusiasm to expand the Erasmus programme will result in many more adapted mobility opportunities as well.

Great importance was also placed on updating the curriculum to make it more relevant in terms of teaching digital literacy. All the Ministers agreed that modern education should include teaching IT skills and digital competencies as basic skills for children, but that the curriculum should also include educating children on how to use technology safely and responsibly. Brief mention was made about the need to make this digital education accessible for people with disabilities such as vision impaired young people, so we can hope that accessibility will stay in their minds when they develop their ideas further.

Overall, the theme of the summit was very positive; Ministers promised great aspirations and plans to build on Europe’s world-renowned education system by promoting equality and equity in education.

The second European Education Summit is scheduled for October 2019, so for now we must keep track of their progress and wait to see what comes next.