Fourth European Education Summit – The next decade of education and training: Event summary
On 9 December 2021, European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel hosted the Fourth European Education Summit. It was the moment for the wider education and training community to take stock and jointly reflect on the future of the sector, with a view of establishing the European Education Area by 2025.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen opened the event with a keynote speech and set the tone for all later exchanges:
"The foundation of education is sharing. And when people from different cultures and countries are involved, it is even more enriching. That is why we strive for a European Education Area."
President von der Leyen also stressed the link between high-quality education and training, and the professional opportunities arising as a result, stating that Europe can make an important contribution to ensuring that people are up to new tasks.
Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas added that it was precisely by improving the co-creation of Member States and the European Union (EU) in education and training matters through the mechanisms of the European Education Area, that current challenges would be overcome. He added:
"Education, science, and research have made Europe what it is today. They are at the heart of our European way of life. Also, education is the basis for a strong democracy, political participation and a society based on shared values."
Commissioner Mariya Gabriel held the third opening speech of this year’s Summit and outlined the shared ambition and spirit of collaboration:
“Our future education systems must be inclusive, digital and sustainable. They must be able to offer high-quality education and training to everybody.”
The opening statements were rounded out with remarks by Simona Kustec, Slovenia’s Minister for Education, Science, Youth and Sport and representative of the Slovene Presidency of the Council of the EU. Sabine Verheyen, MEP and Chair of the Committee on Culture and Education of the European Parliament, also provided her intervention.
Two keynote speeches then inspired participants and viewers. Lidija Kralj, a senior analyst with the European Schoolnet, addressed teachers’ mission and highlighted their importance as they support and empower pupils. Professor of Transformative Learning for Socio-Ecological Sustainability, Arjen Wals of Wageningen University, then focused on the whole-person, whole-school and whole-community perspective as he dove into regenerative education as a driver of socio-ecological sustainability.
Next on the agenda was the presentation of the 2021 Education and Training Monitor by Director-General at the Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC), Themis Christophidou, followed by a panel discussion with DG EAC A.2’s head of unit Susanne Conze and A.4’s Bartek Lessaer. This year’s edition puts ‘well-being in education' in the spotlight, monitors recent policy developments and THE good practices of Member States to increase well-being in education. It also provides an overview of how Member States will make use of the Recovery and Resilience Facility to adapt and strengthen education and training systems.
The morning session was closed by a presentation of the highlights of the 2021 European Innovative Teaching Award, and a panel discussion with Commissioner Gabriel and laureates of this year’s award. They discussed the good practices and innovative teaching methods and tools celebrated by the Award for helping to overcome the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the afternoon, a series of parallel high-level panels covered a broad range of focus topics to complete the European Education Area. These were:
The European Strategy for Universities – specifically, how to empower the higher education sector to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and how to promote long-term structural transformations needed for inclusive and future-proof learning, teaching and research
Teachers’ and students’ well-being - on strategies to enhance students’ and teachers’ well-being as conditions for inclusive education and better educational outcomes
Inclusive education: A step towards a more equal and cohesive society – addressing the importance of quality investment in education and training, and concrete policy actions and initiatives
Strategies for a successful digital education transformation – updates from the Digital Education Action Plan, and a discussion of strategies for successful digital education transformation
Education and environmental sustainability and its link to the Education for Climate Coalition and the New Bauhaus initiative – concerning the key role of education and training in supporting the development of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values needed for the green transition, as well as initiatives, including the New European Bauhaus and the Education for Climate Coalition
Education for active citizenship – a discussion on the importance of a sound understanding of the EU and its values to enable and empower EU citizens to actively engage in shaping the societies they live in, with a presentation of the Jean Monnet Actions, including the new school strand
The global dimension of education - a sample of the main priorities in education policy around the world and how these challenges are being addressed
Future education trends and developments - how policy-makers at the EU, national, regional and local levels can use the results of education foresight to prepare for and address future challenges
Participants in the high-level panels included the following members of the European Commission’s College:
Vice-President for Democracy and Demography, Dubravka Šuica
Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel
Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit
Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen
Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius
They exchanged with 21 ministers from EU and third countries, as well as representatives of EU institutions and international organisations including United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the European Investment Bank (EIB), as well as other members of the wider education community in a very positive and constructive atmosphere.
The day ended with speeches by two representatives of the now current French Presidency of the Council of the EU. Jean-MichelBlanquer, Minister of National Education, Youth and Sports, announced the three priorities of the French Presidency for the first semester of 2022:
boosting young mobility
building a European education pathway for teachers
investing in quality education and training
FrédériqueVidal, France’s Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, added that, in the field of higher education, research and innovation, France is preparing to support the efforts made towards the EU’s recovery, to equip these sectors with the best structural and financial tools.
Commissioner MariyaGabriel closed the Fourth European Education Summit by thanking participants and viewers and highlighting that it is the sum of contributions made jointly, which will make the European Education Area a reality by 2025. The Commissioner also announced the date of the next Summit, which will take place on 1 December 2022.