Yesterday, the European Commission launched its Communication on achieving the European Education Area by 2025. The Communication presents the Commission’s plan to re-enforce cooperation on education in the EU and presents concrete steps to deliver on this ambition. The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) generally welcomes the Communication, in particular its clear message that education systems at all levels should comply with the UN Convention on the Rights of persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). The European Institutions should now use the expertise gathered in civil society, including EASPD, to make concrete progress on the measures proposed.
On the 5th October 2020, the European Commission published its Communication on achieving the European Education Area by 2025 (EEA). The EEA includes a broad variety of education policy areas; including early childhood education and care, schools, vocational education and training (VET), higher education, adult education, etc. It focuses on six dimensions (1) Quality, (2) Inclusion & Gender, (3) Green & Digital, (4) Teachers & Trainers, (5) Higher Education and (6) Geopolitical Dimension.
The EEA clearly states that “Education systems at all levels should comply with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”. Among the measures proposed, the European Commission will: co-develop policy guidance with Member States to reduce low-achievement and increase secondary education attainment; convene an expert group to develop proposals on strategies for creating “supportive learning environments for groups at risk of underachievement;” “establish 50 Centres of Vocational Excellence with Erasmus programe funding” as well as develop a “European Approach to micro-credentials”
Importantly, the European Commission stresses that: “Governments together with stakeholders should foster inclusive education across all sectors of education and training”, in line with the UN CRPD.
EASPD welcomes the clear statement and commitment by the European Commission to ensure that national authorities develop inclusive education. Clear measures are now needed to implement & mainstream inclusive education for persons with disabilities throughout the EEA. This means:
- Reducing the digital gap both for education professionals and learners;
- Ensuring that teachers are provided with the appropriate training and resources to promote inclusion and the implementation of UN CRPD;
- Monitoring the inclusiveness of education systems of Europe by developing additional data collection mechanisms which measure inclusive education across a number of target groups, including learners with disabilities;
- Ensuring that the EU Recovery Plan helps Member States to develop inclusive education.
- Leading by example and ensuring that European Schools are inclusive for children with disabilities.
Following the EEA’s launch, Mr Luk Zelderloo, Secretary General EASPD, stated “The EEA gives a very clear message to national authorities: do more to develop inclusive education for persons with disabilities. What is needed now is to ensure that the voice of those involved in the process on-the-ground is heard in the European working groups to implement the EEA. This includes those who provide education services for persons with disabilities of all ages. Together with the persons with disabilities themselves, it is the professionals who know best how to develop inclusive education in mainstream settings. Work with the experts in civil society to help implement the EEA!”
- EASPD Response to European Commission consultation on Achieving the European Education Area
- European Commission Communication on Achieving a European Education Area by 2025
Note to editors
The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities is a non-profit European umbrella organization, established in 1996, and currently representing over 17,000 social and health services for persons with disabilities. EASPD advocates effective and high-quality disability-related services in the field of education, employment and individualised support, in line with the UN CRPD principles, which could bring benefits not only to persons with disabilities, but to society as a whole.
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