Achieving the European Education Area 2025: Teachers, here we go!

CESI‘s Trade Council on Education met online, most notably to discuss the role of teachers in the context of the ongoing pandemic and in anticipation of a related European Commission education package with communications on Achieving the European Education Area 2025 and an updated EU Digital Education Action Plan, published yesterday.

“Teachers, trainers and educational staff are at the heart of education”: In the brand new European Commission’s Communication on Achieving the European Education Area by 2025, unveiled yesterday, the European Commission put teachers as one of the six dimensions underpinning the future European Education Area. This reflects what CESI has been advocating for many years.

CESI’s Trade Council on Education had met online to discuss how education professionals had been able to ensure a continuity of teaching during the unprecedented disruption of education caused by the Covid-19 crisis and how this had fed into CESI‘s position on the updated Digital Education Action Plan

a new Digital Education Action Plan which has meanwhile been published by the European Commission as well, together with the new Communication on Achieving the European Education Area. After the publication of a CESI Manifesto for the Teaching Profession: Horizon 2025 in 2019, and after the European Commission had set out the European Commission’s vision for a European Education Area by 2025 during the Gothenburg Social Summit in 2017, both had been eagerly awaited by CESI and the members of its Education Trade Council.

While trade council members welcomed the central place that teachers are given in the package published by the European Commission yesterday, concerns were expressed on how the first principle of the European Pillar of Social Rights, namely the right to quality and inclusive education for all, has been so harshly endangered by the health crisis, which has further highlighted in inequalities among children in education, with less advantaged having less possibilities to follow remote education, and among teachers, with different backgrounds and capabilities to offer distance teaching. In particular, trade council members raised concerns about difficulties to teach to special needs children and students in vocational education and training, due to the essential factor of a mix of theoretical learning and practical working.

Trade council President Claude Heiser from the Luxembourgish CGFP said: “During the crisis the role of teachers has been more highly acknowledged by society. With this unprecedented disruption in education, citizens and parents realised how important and crucial teachers are and which responsibility they bear in the difficult task of conveying knowledge, competences and values to children who are meant to become resposible citizens of the future. In this context, the human factor is key: It cannot be all conveyed exclusively through remote education – which became a reality almost from night to day, but which cannot be the primary way of teaching and learning.”

Trade Council Vice-President Salvatore Piroscia from the Italian Confsal added: “Although we have been talking about the importance of including new technologies in education in a smart and smooth way for many years now, both for pupils and education professionals, we had probably never thought that this would become the only way of ensuring education suddenly during a crisis. For the first time pupils and teachers experienced what ‘social distancing’ is and how important human interaction is to have a interactive dialogue among each other – and not only through a screen”.

CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger concluded: „CESI will be following closely the implementation of the new European initiatives that were published yesterday and will continue to highlight the need support to all teachers and education professionals in these challenging times and beyond. In line with our manifesto for the teaching profession, CESI can only fully agree with the European Commission’s finding that ‘the teaching profession as such needs to be revalorised, in social and, in some Member States, also in financial terms‘. We hope that the European Commission‘s vision for a European Education Area 2025 will be underpinned withwith proper investments at the EU and national levels – also in terms of infrastructure, workforce and training. Implementing the first principle of the Pillar of inclusive and quality education for all must be a real goal even in unexpected difficult times.”

The Trade Council “Education” was held in the framework of CESI’s ongoing “PULSER” Project (“Performing public services for the best possible implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights”), with the financial support from the European Union.