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French Minister of Education, Higher Education and Research Najat Vallaud-Belkacem organised a European-wide meeting on 17 March to discuss the role of education in combatting intolerance, discrimination and radicalisation. The meeting, which took place in Paris and was attended by Education ministers, State Secretaries and representatives from all 28 EU Member States, was prompted by recent terror attacks in Paris and Copenhagen. It resulted in a declaration signed by several Education Ministers as well as the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Mr. Tibor Navracsics calls for international cooperation on promoting “fundamental values that lie at the heart of the European Union,” including freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination.
The ministers recognised the key contribution which education, as a vehicle for the dissemination of fundamental values, makes to personal development, social inclusion and participation. They stressed the need to ensure an inclusive education for all young people which combats racism and discrimination while teaching them to accept differences of opinion, conviction and beliefs in an intercultural context. Similarly, they convened on the importance of strengthening children’s critical judgment and media literacy, so that they are “resistant to all forms of discrimination and indoctrination”. These efforts, it was agreed, should incorporate and empower all stakeholders –families, teachers, and associative structures –in order to strengthen social ties and a sense of belonging.
While recognising that each member state is ultimately responsible for their education systems, the ministers agreed on the need to cooperate and coordinate across borders, to ensure that best practices can be shared throughout the European Union. To this effect, the main tool remains the ET2020 Strategic Framework, with its focus on peer learning and exchange of good practices. The Erasmus+ programme facilitates cross-border cooperation, dialogue and joint projects on citizenship education, volunteering and youth exchanges.Official declaration French Ministry of Education, Higher Education and Research (in French)