Following the attacks in Paris and Copenhagen in early 2015, Europe is looking for an answer to the question: “How can we avoid the radicalisation of our young generation and the contagion of hate?”.  A first answer was the Paris declaration which calls policy makers at European, national, regional and local level for renewed efforts to lay the foundations for more inclusive societies through education, and to combine efforts to prevent and tackle marginalisation, intolerance, racism, discrimination and radicalisation. Education should then cut the support base of terrorism and empower young Europeans – especially those with migrant backgrounds – to be active citizens.

Just following the declaration, the European Commission has recruited three experts in spring 2015 to make a report on the state of the art of practices that work in the promotion of intercultural dialogue and active citizenship. Barry van Driel, Vice President of IAIE, is member of this group and gave a presentation on best practices. This report will be the basis on which the EU will plan their future actions.

This shift in focus from employability to the formation of democratic, cohesive and learning societies was also reflected in the draft report on the implementation of the EU Education and Training Strategy (ET2020) which was released by the European Commission at the beginning of September and will be adopted by the EU Council by the end of the year. ET2020 has 4 strategic objectives that have been approved in 2009:

1. Making lifelong learning and mobility a reality;

2. Improving the quality and efficiency of education and training;

3. Promoting equity, social cohesion and active citizenship;

4. Enhancing creativity and innovation, including entrepreneurship, at all levels of education and training.

Within these strategic objectives in the report the Commission suggests to focus on 6 priorities instead of the initial 13. Among these 6, the first two priorities are:

o    Relevant and high-quality skills and competences, focusing on results, for employability, innovation and active citizenship

o    Inclusive education, equality, non-discrimination and promotion of civic competences.

Alongside these developments, the European Parliament is working on a report on ‘The role of intercultural dialogue, cultural diversity and education in promoting EU fundamental values” and the European Commission is working on developing a Communication on a new European Cultural Diplomacy to be led by the High Commissioner for External Action,

In particular, the European Parliament organised a Hearing in cooperation with UNESCO on 15 September. UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova was present and very much stressed the importance to protect cultural heritage and educate refugees to the appreciation of it in their country of origin: cultural heritage is a tool to understand how different cultures have nurtured each other over centuries and is key to further develop the sense of belonging, self-esteem and confidence of a population. The experts attending the event highlighted that the target of action need to refugee teachers and refugee young people between 15 and 29 years old (both in Middle East and Europe) who have been out of school for too long and risk to be a lost generation. Teachers need support to educate these young people who will have to gain competences to engage positively in society, feel global citizens and attend school and activities of the local communities.

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All presentations and the video of the Hearing can be found here: