In recent years, violent extremism and terrorist attacks have surged across Europe and are posing a threat to the safety of its citizens and to its fundamental values of freedom, democracy, equality, respect for the rule of law, human rights and dignity. The alarming developments stand in opposition to the vision of a EU society characterised by pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and gender equality. A question arises about how Europe countries can cope with the situation and the resulting challenges.
To confirm this, the European Commission and the Council have jointly decided to adapt their policy cooperation in the fields of education and training (ET 2020) and youth to give priority attention to the implementation of the Declaration of Paris of 17 March 2015, which emphasise the determination of policy makers “[…]to stand shoulder to shoulder in support of fundamental values that lie at the heart of the European Union”. Moreover, “[…] the major challenge we face in safeguarding our pluralistic societies calls for concrete action at European, national, regional and local levels.” Within the educational landscape, the school as institution “[…] have a special duty to ensure that the humanist and civic values we share are safeguarded and passed on to future generations”. Therefore, “[…] renewed efforts are required to strengthen the teaching and acceptance of these common fundamental values and laying the foundations for more inclusive societies through education - starting from an early age”.
So, based on the most recent guidelines, due to the needs and environmental analysis carried out and in particular the evaluation and testing of relevant key figures, this strategic partnership endeavours to pursue the aforementioned horizontal and branch-specific priorities. We need to widen our horizons and to understand the importance of being – through citizenship education and participation – active, responsible and open-minded members of society.
Inter-alias this project aims at a national, regional and local level to:
- strengthen the key contribution which education makes to personal development, social inclusion and participation, by imparting the fundamental values and principles which constitute the foundation of our societies;
- promote citizenship and teach to understand and to accept differences of opinion, of conviction, of belief and of lifestyle, while respecting the rule of law, diversity and gender equality;
- strengthen student’s ability to think critically and exercise judgement so that, particularly in the context of the Internet and social media, they are able to grasp realities, to distinguish fact from opinion, to recognise propaganda and to resist all forms of indoctrination and hate speech;
- combat geographical, social and educational inequalities, as well as other factors which can lead to despair and create a fertile ground for extremism, by providing students with the necessary knowledge, skills and competences to build their own professional futures and pathways to success in society;
- encourage dialogue and cooperation among all the education stakeholders, in particular parents, families and associative structures, and building on student’s sense of initiative and engagement in order to strengthen social ties as well as generate a sense of belonging;
- empower teachers so that they are able to take an active stand against all forms of discrimination and racism, to educate children and young people in media literacy, to meet the needs of pupils from diverse backgrounds, to impart common fundamental values and to prevent and combat racism and intolerance.
In doing so, effective strategies for a better promotion of active citizenship and for the development of basic and transversal skills should be planned and implemented on a European level and dimension with the help of innovative methods and with a multilingual and interdisciplinary approach.
Through transnational cooperation and exchange of good practices, measures should be developed and implemented with the goal at European level to:
- acquire social, civic and intercultural competences and energetically promote democratic values, fundamental rights as well as active citizenship;
- enhance critical thinking and media literacy to develop resistance to all forms of discrimination and indoctrination;
- promote intercultural dialogue through all forms of learning in cooperation with other relevant policies and stakeholder.
Thanks to the implementation of this planned joint initiative, the motivation of pupils and teachers should be increased and the quality of instruction and scholastic educational process should be improved while taking the didactic trends of the 21st century into consideration.