EL Conference on Education

EL Conference on Education

13 organisations from the European Left representing 13 countries participated in the EL Conference on Education, held in Paris on June 19th and 20th, 2008.

Maite Mola, member of the Executive Board of the European Left Party, gave the introduction speech. The debate was moderated by Bernard Calabuig on Thursday, and by Jose Tovar on Friday.

The different organisations presented the situation in their respective countries. It was discovered that all countries face similar problems under the implementation of a European education policy based on a utilitarian concept of education, which is completely functional to the neo-liberal economic model. This policy is adopted by the right-wing and socialist governments under different forms and times according to the national context.

A strong attack against education as a public service and the tendency to transform education into merchandise can be seen in all countries. Financing is the only thing that counts, education for all is menaced and students from migration families are basically excluded. Flexibility and precarious conditions affect teachers and the education staff.

The situation in Greece proves that the Bologna process leads to the destruction of public universities.

The participants of the meeting underlined the strong mobilisation for the defence of public education and the status of the education staff in particular in Spain, Greece, and France. It is important to continue this work in order to develop a European dimension based on these actions.

It was stated that the neo-liberal politics also affect the northern as well as the eastern European countries though with specific characteristics. The same is true for Switzerland with its 16 cantons, Germany with its Länder, Belgium, etc.

The debate also dealt with the situation of poor children, educational inequality, pedagogy and lessons, feminisation in education, and the relation between school and work.

The following decisions were taken:

  1. Prepare an action day against the merchandising of education.
  2. Organise the EL summer university to include an education workshop on July 10th. A global analysis of the education system in Europe, followed by an analysis of the situation in the northern and eastern European countries will be presented. The participants of the summer university will discuss the manifesto. The manifesto will serve as a basis for the left and progressive forces in defining the principles and fundamental criteria of a framework, which will be an indispensable means for the emancipation and development and will be valid in all countries.

The debate was just the starting point for the co-edition of this manifesto, which will be finalised by the end of 2008 and be an occasion for the European Left to launch an initiative/public action day in order to present the work during the first trimester of 2009, before the European elections.

Further documents:
Summary of the educational system in Switzerland by Sonja Crivelli