ETTW Conference-Providing education for European diasporas-Conclusions

The purpose of the conference, organised by ETTW (Europeans Throughout The World) and hosted by the European Committee of the Regions with the support of M. Borboly, rapporteur for ‘Modernising school and higher education’ as well as the ‘Youth Strategy’, was:

  1. raising the awareness in European Institutions of the importance of education for expatriates and their children,
  2. discussing key issues which are considered as a priority
  3. and improving the cooperation between the different parties through mutual inspiration.

The event brought together members of European Institutions, representatives of Member States, ETTW member associations, NGOs active in the field of education, and managers of networks of schools abroad, European schools and education services for expatriates.

The timing of this conference was particularly relevant with the demand of Head of States, at the social summit of Gothenburg in Sweden by the end of 2017, of going in the direction of an European Education Area by 2025 in which learning, studying, and doing research would not be hampered by borders.

After interesting presentations and debates, the participants recognised the mutual interest of the following conclusions:

  1. It is useful to raise the awareness among the various European institutions on the issue of educating the children of mobile citizens in Europe.

  1. To do this, it is necessary to have a good knowledge of the situation: ETTW invites the European Commission and Eurydice of the executive agency EACEA to complete their information on national education systems with a component on teaching abroad, whether formal, non-formal or informal; to this end, ETTW puts at their disposal the inventory of dedicated schools or education services for expatriates that has been produced in preparation for this conference; some participants will send to ETTW an update or a complement to the current inventory.

  1. Knowledge of the mother tongue and the culture of the country of origin is a top priority for ETTW members and participants, as illustrated by Denmark and Netherlands: several actions could be envisaged for this purpose at European level, such as the exchange of good practices, funding through the Erasmus+ programme and its successor, or even a more consistent implementation of the European directive which deals with these questions (77/486/EEC)

  1. Cooperation at European level could be particularly relevant for distance learning and online tools, based on national initiatives like D-Teach in Flanders and the Online Linguistic Support (OLS) implemented in Erasmus+

  1. A problem for the mobility of citizens in Europe is the transition from one education system to another and the lack of recognition of level/grade/qualification. The priorities identified within the conference are:

    • A lack of recognition which does appear at the end of upper secondary education (baccalaureat, abitur …), especially when people repatriate to their country of origin

    • Automatic recognition of diplomas at least to be eligible to access to Higher Education institutions everywhere in Europe (not necessary to be admitted); the recent Benelux agreement demonstrates that it is feasible

    • Implementation, as quickly as possible, of the ‘European agenda for skills’ for a major step forward in the recognition of other qualifications (vocational, …) throughout Europe

The participants took note of a forthcoming Recommendation of the Council of Ministers to Member States, on a proposal from the European Commission, covering in particular some of these points.

  1. The conference recommends that the European Union and its Member States think about a talent mobility management policy that would be balanced between countries, and with the rest of the world. Taking advantage of mobility is good but also having in mind the economic and social interests of each country in particular but it should be made easier for young people to return home at key points in their school and university cursus.

  1. Networks of schools abroad, European schools and international schools could be interested in meeting to exchange their views and consider some activities to be developed in common (synergies, exchanges of good practices, common projects …). The accreditation or labelisation of national schools to be compatible with other national or European curricula is an interesting trend.

It appears that there are really convergent interests between ETTW and its members, the other organisations participating in the conference and the European institutions to co-operate in all these points in order to implement a real European Education Area. ETTW, European institutions and other organisations will look at a ’Rendez-vous’ to the follow-up of the conference.