The fourth European Education Summit: an insight into the next decade of European education

© The European Commission

Education trade unions, represented by Larry Flanagan, ETUCE President, participated in the fourth European Education Summit, which took place on 9 December 2021. The interventions were mainly focused on the importance of the future of the European university initiative, as well as sustainability, digitalisation, and equality in education.

Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, opened the Summit by outlining the priorities for education in Europe over the next decade. The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the digitalisation of the education sector was addressed. Indeed, this shift to digital education increased existing inequalities of access to education across Europe. This reality is recognised through the European Innovative Teaching Award, a new initiative designed to identify and promote outstanding teaching and learning practices achieved through the Erasmus + Programme.

The Summit featured an extensive number of speakers from the European Commission, who highlighted the impact the COVID-19 crisis has had on education and teachers across Europe. The spotlight was also put on the European Education Area, underlining the importance of finding the right balance between cooperation and competition in higher education. National Ministers added their input to the panel discussions by including national examples of their own involvement in the European University Alliances, as well as sharing good practices on curriculum development. Keynote speakers from the education sector also contributed to the discussions by shedding light on the changes in pedagogical practices, empowering teachers, and a whole-school approach to sustainability.

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Larry Flanagan, ETUCE president, was taking part to the high-level panel on “Inclusive Education: A Step Towards a More Equal and Cohesive Society”, where he was joined by Nicolas Schmit, the European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, and national ministers for education. During the discussion, Larry highlighted the ETUCE Action Plan on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and Strategy for Implementation (2021) and, through this Action Plan, the ETUCE’s commitment to develop progressive policies. Larry Flanagan explained how this Action Plan was more than a statement of intent but was designed to take concrete steps to support ETUCE’s member organisations. This includes the ETUCE Online Database of Good Practices.

However, teachers need support to achieve quality education for all, and social dialogue is a fundamental step for the accomplishment of this reality. Larry Flanagan underlined the importance of aligning government policies with the needs of students, teachers and other education personnel. This can be supported through increased investment in teacher numbers, in schools’ resources, and in the needs of the whole education system. Improving the attractiveness of the teaching profession through social dialogue is essential in combatting inequality.

See the full programme of the European Education Summit 2021 here.