Speaking to journalists on the aircraft taking him back to Rome from the Caucasus region on Sunday 2 October 2016, Pope Francis blamed French schools for “teaching gender theory” as an attempt to “change mentalities” and as being part of a “global war” on traditional family values and marriage. Gender theory is commonly defined as the idea that people may be biologically male or female, but have the right to identify themselves as female, male, both or neither. Pope Francis further argued that the French curriculum was aimed at transforming boys into girls, which is opposed to the “natural order”.

The European Employment Policy Observatory (EEPO) of the European Commission recently published the synthesis “ Challenges in the Labour Market Integration of Asylum Seekers and Refugees”. Apart from legal and administrative, institutional and societal challenges refugees and asylum seekers are facing when attempting to integrate into the European labour market, the report deals rather deeply with education and qualification issues. Several types of problems have been identified.

Eurostat has recently published the 2016 edition of its report “Smarter, greener, more inclusive? – Indicators to support the Europe 2020 strategy”. For this yearly publication, the EU’s statistical office  examines how the EU member states have progressed in achieving the targets of the EU long term strategy for economic growth (EU2020). The report  also gives recommendations where further actions need to be taken. Having reached the midway of the this ten year period, this report presents various and detailed data around the areas of employment; research and development (R&D); advance in climate change and energy; education; and poverty.

On 10 October 2016, in response to the draft education reform which  Poland's ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) had proposed and which seemed to undermine  quality education, the teacher union Związek Nauczycielstwa Polskiego (ZNP), one of EI/ETUCE’s member organisations in Poland, organised teacher protests in 17 cities all over Poland, including in Warsaw.

On 11 October 2016, the ETUCE Committee adopted the new ETUCE position on the New Skills Agenda for Europe initiative of the European Commission, following the previous ETUCE statement which was endorsed in February. The upcoming meeting of the Education Council on 21-22 November intends to adopt a Conclusion on the New Skills Agenda. The ETUCE position stands as a contribution to this decision since the European Commission’s initiative will have direct influence on the work of teachers.

On 10 – 11 October 2016, the members of the ETUCE Committee convened for the last meeting in the present term of office of this statutory body. A new ETUCE Committee is to be elected at the ETUCE Conference in Belgrade in December 2016. Thanking the committee members for their work in this term of office, ETUCE President, Christine Blower, highly valued and recognized the work, achievements and commitment of Martin Rømer, who is retiring from his post of European Director at the end of 2016.