March 23, 2009
As published by EurActiv.com:
The European school system “might soon collapse” if not reformed, European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas told a public hearing in Brussels last week (19 March), citing “alarming signs” like lack of teachers, cumbersome decision-making procedures and governments’ unwillingness to invest in infrastructure.
Acknowledging that reforming the European school system is a “delicate subject”, Vice-President Kallas, responsible for administration, told a European Parliament hearing organised by the EU assembly’s centre-right EPP-ED group that “if today sufficient political impetus is found, we can put together the final touches to ensure that, tomorrow, the provision of a high-quality, multicultural and truly European education becomes available across the EU”.
Reform process underway
Reform of European schools has been underway since the mid-2000s, Kallas told stakeholders including parents, teachers and officials from the EU institutions, outlining three main strands of the process:
- Streamlining decision-making and cutting red tape to ensure that decisions are taken at the most appropriate level;
- Ensuring that costs are shared fairly among all member states, and;
- Opening up the system not just to make the European curriculum available where EU bodies and agencies are located, but in any interested member state.
“Together, we can ensure that European schools are no longer perceived as an elitist and closed educational system,” the commissioner told the hearing.
Opening up the system
At present, priority for places is given to children of officials working for the EU institutions directly. Luxembourg MEP Erna Hennicot-Schoepges (EPP-ED) said the reforms currently underway would open up European schools to a wider variety of pupils, including the staff of EU agencies (so-called ‘Type 2’ schools, of which four already exist).
National schools should also be given the opportunity to offer students the chance to take the European baccalaureate (‘Type 3’ schools), an idea hailed by Czech Deputy Education Minister Jakub Dürr as “highly inspirational”.
But Alain Scriban of the Commission’s administration department took a more cautious view, warning that opening up the schools must not become a “free-for-all” or lead to “variations from one school to another,” stressing the need to maintain the quality of the system.
If you would like to read the full article, please click here. To make a comment and express your opinion on the matter, please use the box below.Author : Stuart Langridge