On 22 May 2018 the European Commission published its chapeau Communication entitled Building a stronger Europe: the role of youth, education and culture policies. Within this communication, three proposals were made to the council, including a proposal on high quality early childhood education, a proposal on improving the teaching of language learning, and a proposal on the automatic mutual recognition of diplomas and learning periods abroad.

Today, 9 October 2018, ETUCE member organisations, within the framework of the ETUCE Committee meeting, adopted an ETUCE reaction on this policy package.

Education trade unions in Europe welcome that the European Commission aims to further encourage governments to improve access, quality and professionalisation in the education sector, however, governments must start taking steps to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights to ensure high quality and equal access to education to all.

Concerning the proposal on high quality early childhood education and care, ETUCE draws attention to the high tuition fees, increasing privatisation and the gender imbalance in this sector. Education trade unions call for free early childhood education throughout Europe, more public investment in this sector and better working conditions for staff in order to attract more men into the profession.

Regarding language learning, the European Commission outlines the importance of language variety and learning about different cultures, teaching subjects through foreign languages, while tackling the teacher shortage. While the European Commission’s proposal supports language teacher mobility and more continuous professional development for language teachers, ETUCE opposes the recruitment of language speakers as teachers without appropriate teaching qualifications. ETUCE also calls for additional investment in language learning tools and requests that free and high quality language learning of two foreign languages be included in the European Semester.

With respect to the mutual recognition of diplomas and learning periods abroad, ETUCE supports the proposal’s emphasis on the recognition of knowledge, skills and competences. However, ETUCE believes that qualifications and study periods should only be acknowledged to the extent that the student’s competence is likely to match the competence requirements of each member state. We also underline that national education systems are the responsibility of individual governments and that trust needs to be improved between countries with the help of existing EU tools.

Read the ETUCE Reaction