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V European Education Summit in Brussels: recent challenges in education

05 December 2022

The 5th European Education Summit, held in Brussels on 1st December, gathered representatives of EU institutions, ministers for education, stakeholder institutions, teachers and students in discussions on needed improvements, investments and challenges related to the resilience, quality, inclusivity and sustainability of education in Europe. This year’s Summit motto – Bright young minds – reflected on the underlying priority of supporting young generation and including its voices in the discussion and referred to the 2022 European Year of Youth.

In her opening speech, Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, focused both on the successes achieved in building the development of the European Education Area (EEA) and on challenges that EEA has to undertake, such as the effectiveness of the investments made in education.

Morning panel debates built upon the topic of challenges. In the first session, panellists looked at the need for actions in the areas of, a.i., teachers’ development, female representation in STEM sciences, involvement of youth in policy-making, accessibility of education, peer-learning, connecting education and innovation and education’s sector ability to respond to the crisis, such as pandemic and war in Ukraine. During the 2nd session, “Dialogue between EU Youth Coordinator and youth representatives,” participating students called for more cooperation between policymakers and young people that should bring the youth’s perspective to the policy regulations. They also emphasized the importance of bridging formal and non-formal education. Finally, in the last morning debate Themis Christophidou, Director-General of the Directorate-General for Education and Culture (DG EAC), discussed with four panel-guests the challenges and progress made in the EU regarding digital and green education, inclusion and gender issues and the support for teachers. DG EAC Director invited participants to get familiar with the ongoing work and progress towards EU-level targets in EEA by checking the newest Progress Report.

The afternoon programme opened with parallel high-level panels, offering an opportunity to engage in discussions on innovations in education and digital and sustainable developments in the sector. In the panel dedicated to higher education innovations, the Rector of the University of Salamanca, Ricardo Rivero Ortega, presented recommendations coming from established this year European Network of Innovative Universities. They included actions in ten areas that touched upon, a.i., investments and the role of universities in fostering innovation developments and entrepreneurial talent, a more profound connection between research and education, upskilling university faculty, and providing adequate resources for teaching (see the full report here). Rector Ortega’s presentation was followed by a discussion of initiatives and national strategies to support digital skills introduced by ministerial-level representatives from Greece, the Czech Republic, Germany and Croatia, start-up founders and Vice-President of the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) at the European Parliament.

During the second-block panel, “Shaping the future,” Mariya Gabriel announced the official launch of the Learning Lab on Investing in Quality Education and Training. The initiative promotes the use of education policy evaluation practices in the EU and aims to improve evidence-based education investments.

The closing plenary focused on integrating Ukrainian students and pupils into educational institutions in the EU. Participants had a chance to hear about various governmental strategies in the EU, pan-European initiatives such as support under the Erasmus+ programme, and third-sector’s work presented by representatives of UNICEF and the Ukraine Foundation in Poland. The panel hosted a remote speech from the special guest, Andrii Vitrenko, First Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine. Minister Vitrenko talked about current challenges for the Ukrainian education sector in times of war.

The Summit was closed by the presentation of the priorities of the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the EU in the field of education by the Swedish Minister of Education, Lotta Edholm. The main directions will include automatic mutual recognition of diplomas, the implementation of the European Strategy for Universities, and green and digital transformations. Minister Edholm’s presentation was followed by Commissioner Gabriel’s speech, who called for continuous cooperation and harnessing the potential of the tools that European states have at their disposal on the pathway to achieve the ambitious goals in the education sector: the EU funds and Recommendations of the European Commission. Video recordings of the Summit sessions are available here.