BM 68 – ESU and its members pledge support for the Paris-agenda

21.05.2015
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YEREVAN- On the 17th of March the education ministers of the European Union met to discuss how education could support social inclusion in Europe. At the meeting a declaration was launched calling for and outlining commitments on all policy levels. The European Students’ Union (ESU) and its members gathered in Yerevan for the 68th ESU Board Meeting applaud the commitments and

offer their support.

For ESU the fight to make education more inclusive has been a long fight and often an uphill battle. From concrete projects, to policies and solidarity actions, the issues raised in Paris have been at the heart of students organised at the European level. The declaration marks a serious commitment to tackling radicalisation, racism and intolerance in the educational systems. This can only be done through the approaches outlined; by creating equal and inclusive educational systems for all. The meeting and the declaration mark a clear shift away from European-level policies that have mainly highlighted education as an economic good that will ensure economic growth. This is essential as the crisis in Europe is not only economic but also social and requires urgent action.

ESU and its national unions of students will aim to support the initiative in the best way possible through concrete actions and pressure on the member states as well as the European Union to live up to the declaration. When the members of ESU met earlier in Riga in March, we discussed in depth exactly how we could support the Paris declaration and the work of the ministers and the European
Commission in this area.

Some ideas for our commitment to the declaration included:
– Embed the values of the declaration in teachers’ education, i.e. human rights, freedom of speech etc., as well as inclusive pedagogical methods;
– Support the inclusion of the values in the national curricula;
– Allocate funding for projects that encourage activities promoting inclusiveness and diversity, active citizenship etc.;
– Lobby for the implementation of national level access plans/ social dimension strategies;
– Support for the member unions through ESU to fight for the implementation of institutional level access plans/ social dimension strategies;
– Raising awareness on social dimension issues within the student population and the higher education institutions to bring about cultural change;
– Engaging with our higher education institutions to develop and promote student centred learning and inclusive curriculum design;
– Analyse the impact of different funding systems and their both long-term and short-term effects on social inclusion;
– Contributing and actively using databases with measures to improve social inclusiveness, for example PL4SD;
– Including social dimension perspectives through in quality assurance systems or other relevant monitoring bodies and structures;
– Support the organising of peer-mentoring programs for underrepresented groups in to help them to enter and remain successful in higher education;
– Act to promote social inclusiveness within our own organizations.

In addition to our ideas on how to support the Paris declaration themselves, several ideas were also raised about how for the European Commission can continue to support the follow-up on the Paris declaration;

– Building a social dimension centre/institute on European level that would do research, gathers the existing knowledge and actors in the field as well as develop methodologies on inclusive education and student centred learning;
– Increase and allocate research funding to increase the level of knowledge on access, underrepresented groups etc.;
– Identify data gaps and bring the level of research on access and underrepresented to the same level across Europe;
– Continuously collecting, share and promote of best practices on local, national, and European level, for instance by building on the database through the European Commission supported PL4SD project;
– Encourage a European study on the inclusivity of teaching curricula and methodology and commit to regularly monitoring it.
– Financially support countries with the ambitions to create national access plan or social dimension strategies for higher education that also specifically tackle the issues that cause radicalization i.e. the lack of hope and exclusion.

ESU and its member unions are committed to fighting to ensure that the principles enshrined in the Paris declaration will be taken seriously at the national level and reflected in national policy. We  emphasise the continued need for the involvement of the European Union in support of this agenda, and that the ministers take their declaration seriously. With this resolution, we, the European Students’ Union and our members, the national unions of students pledge our support and commitment to the Paris declaration.

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