EESC: Teachers are Europe's "architects of the future"


A new opinion from the European Economic and Social Committee calls for research on “EU literacy” as a competence and the development of resources to help schools teach it. The opinion also highlights the key role of teachers, and their need for training and support. This echoes the findings of the research report produced in the EU CONVINCE project, which found that citizenship education on EU topics is underdeveloped across Europe.

Following its opinion on 'Education about the European Union' adopted in March 2019, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) suggests developing a toolkit for schools on teaching Europe. The EESC also calls for new critical research on the topic to design a competence for "EU literacy". This new EESC own-initiative opinion, adopted in July 2019, highlights that teachers play an important role in preparing future active and responsible citizens of Europe.

The opinion sets out concerns regarding the current design of teaching about Europe in schools because "there is very little evidence that what is taught about ‘Europe’ is designed in a progressive manner to lead students from basic facts towards a more complex understanding". Therefore, the EESC suggests an inventory of teaching and learning materials and resources.

Similar findings are outlined by the research report ‘Challenges and good practices related to promoting citizenship and values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education’, which was prepared as part of the joint ETUCE-EFEE-ESHA project EU CONVINCE. This study shows that student assessment in the domain of citizenship and EU values education is not systematically organised in most European countries. Both the EESC opinion and the EU CONVINCE research report also highlight the importance of communicating with and educating parents and families about Europe and democratic values.

The EESC opinion also proposes to focus on teacher training at EU and national level, and to support teachers by providing them with a wide range of materials tailored for their specific national situations. This call reflects our demand for sustainable funding and support for teachers and other education personnel when teaching democracy, human rights, universal values and citizenship skills, set out in the ETUCE campaign ‘Shape the future of Europe with teachers’. Furthermore, the EU CONVINCE research report contains an extensive compendium of good practices related to the implementation of democratic citizenship and inclusive education in Europe. This compendium can be used by education trade unions, teachers, and schools as a ‘toolkit’ on teaching Europe as suggested by the EESC opinion.