While in Brussels earlier today, European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker announced a heavyweight plan to kick-start growth in the European Union, educators assembled in Vienna urged Commission officials present there to ensure that the education sector would especially benefit from these investments.
Around 250 delegates from Education International's affilates from all over Europe highlighted the need to invest in education - both where infrastructure and human resources are concerned - during the European Trade Union Committee for Education's Special Conference in Vienna today. The ETUCE, EI's European Region, holds conferences every two years to have a platform to react to current developments like these.
Xavier Prats-Monné, Director General of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Education and Culture, one of the keynote speakers at the conference, indicated that of the eight areas targeted by the programme, two were directly related to education, and encouraged education unions as social partners of the European Commission to play an active part in further discussions, to ensure the future of the teaching profession in Europe receives the attention it deserves.
EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen, who opened the conference, reminded participants that a holistic and life-long learning approach to education, as advocated for by UNESCO's 1996 report "Learning: The treasure within" has come under pressure in recent years. "For all that education teaches us to know and how to do - the practical skills that help us navigate life - it also holds the immense importance of passing on the democratic values on which our cultures and societies are based."
European Director Martin Rømer echoed these thoughts in his address to the conference. "The European social model is facing challenges today. We must work together to ensure that education is seen as part of the solution", he said.
During the remainder of the conference, which runs until tomorrow, delegates will discuss resolutions around these issues, to inform ETUCE's work for the years to come.