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SEMINAR: EDUCATION – WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD
EUROPEAN PARLIEMENT ON THE 15.10.2012
HOW TO MEET THE NEEDS OF THE CHILDREN OF MOBILE WORKERS IN A LINGUISTICALLY DIVERSIFIED EUROPE?
PhD Kari Kivinen
As Secretary-General of the European Schools, I wish to congratulate the European Union on winning the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize. The European Schools have been closely connected with EU and what it stands for since 1953. We are really proud that European Union has been awarded a highly respected prize for its contribution to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights!
Mr Jean Monnet, one of the founding fathers of the European Union, had a pragmatic idea that the most effective way to create a unified Europe would be through multicultural and multi-linguistic education! The European Schools were created 6o years ago based on his vision of united Europe. Therefore I think we can all be proud to be part of the movement, which have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2012!
During the past 60 years, European Union has not only promoted peace, but also freedom of movement. European citizens have a real freedom to choose in which country they want to study, work or live.
There is rather important change of the nature of assignments in progress at this moment. People work on shorter contracts, work part-time, and change their place of work more frequently. Outsourcing is increasing in all sectors. The workplaces of the Europeans are more mobile and project-oriented.
These two elements create new educational challenges in most European capitals: How are we to meet the needs of the children of these mobile workers in a linguistically diversified Europe? On the other side – What kind of international schooling should be offered in the European capitals to attract high level professionals? And what are we to say to those families that include children with ‘special educational needs’?
In my view, our new challenge is to serve these regionally mobile families and to provide access to an educational system that meets a wide variety of learning needs.
Most of the European capitals might have some international schools such as Deutche Schule, Lycee Français or English speaking International School. Unfortunately they often have limited number of places, high fees and they do not necessarily get support from the governments.
The 27 EU member states have developed their own model, creating 14 European schools, accepting children across the whole age range and offering the European Baccalaureate, recognized in all the Member States of the European Union. Pupils of different nationalities are educated side by side from an early age. They are not affected by prejudices that can be divisive and they are familiar with all the great and good aspects of the different European cultures. As they get older, they realise that they somehow belong together. They are still proud of their own countries and their own languages, but mentally they feel European. Their education has taught them that their job now is to complete and build on the work of earlier generations, with the aim of creating a united and thriving Europe.
Based on the recommendation of the European Parliament, European Schools have started to open up its curricula, syllabuses and European Baccalaureate to national Schools. At this moment there are 8 Accredited European Schools, and there are several new ones in pipeline. About 27.000 pupils have access to the European schooling in 11 Member states.
Both the international schools and the European Schools offer workable alternatives that serve the children of the newly mobile Europeans. Both approaches have achieved considerable success, but their effect in the European scale is still very modest. Both models could be further examined and developed!
I believe that all European children deserve the same educational opportunities in united Europe. This means that basic schooling should support:
• the child’s mother tongue, to retain cultural identity and facilitate re-integration
• language learning, giving access to the main language of instruction, and opportunities to learn key European languages, facilitating better international communication and relocation across Europe
Finally, the most challenging task is to provide support for the children who learn differently, with a range of special educational needs.