Education trade unions, education employers, and school leaders have a key role in promoting democratic citizenship and social inclusion in diverse educational contexts and learning environments. This emphasis on the importance of citizenship education and social inclusion was highlighted in the first training workshop of the joint ETUCE, EFEE (European Federation of Education Employers) and ESHA (European School Heads Association) project EU CONVINCE (EU Common Values Inclusive Education), which took place in Rome on 31st January 2019.The workshop on ‘Successful good practices on democratic citizenship education and the teaching of EU common values’ was organised with the support of the project’s partner in Italy, FLC-CGIL, and involved around 40 participants from Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Portugal Romania, Slovenia and The Netherlands.

Presenting the preliminary results of the project online survey and desk research conducted among ETUCE, EFEE and ESHA member organisations, Dominique Danau, SAGO Research, reported that effective fostering of the citizenship and inclusive education requires supportive policy frameworks and implementation guidelines, robust assessment systems, and sustainable support to education personnel and school leaders through initial and continuous professional development. Responding to these findings, Calin Rus, an expert of the Council of Europe and Director of the Intercultural Institute of Timisoara, Romania, presented competences of teacher training on intercultural education introduced by the recently published Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (Council of Europe). Furthermore, Dr. Catherine Lowry-O’Neill from the project’s partner, School for Lifelong Learning of ‘Waterford Institute of Technology’ (Ireland) presented School leadership and governmental-led educational strategies in the EU on the promotion of citizenship education and EU common values.

In the smaller working groups participants shared their national examples of challenges encountered by education stakeholders when teaching democratic citizenship, human rights and fundamental values, as well as proposed successful and innovative approaches and solutions on citizenship and human rights education (e.g. involving students as mentors to assist the students with migrant background in learning the language of instruction, extra-curriculum activities to make students work together, and school leaders creating a safe environment where the teachers and children feel free to discuss all the challenges). The good practices and solutions suggested by the workshop’s participants are to be also integrated in the Massive Online Open Course (MOOC), prepared by the European Inter-University Center for Human Rights and Digitalisation, which is to run from 29 April to 9 June 2019 and open for all education stakeholders. The MOOC programme was presented by Angela Melchiorre, Academic Coordinator of Online Programmes, Global Campus of Human Rights.

Concluding the workshop, Susan Flocken, European Director, said: “In the times of societal change and rising individualism, addressing citizenship education is especially important for young people to become responsible citizens who are aware of their rights and obligations and value mutual respect, equal opportunities and diversity. All education stakeholders need to unite to ensure a quality education, active participation, and sense of belonging for all learners, especially for those disadvantaged and marginalised”. EFEE General Secretary Daniel Wisniewski supported ETUCE’s call for joint action, vision and courage by saying “Our hope is the start of a greater cooperation for citizenship education in Europe”.

The next training workshops of the project are taking place in Paris on the 5th March 2019 focusing on ‘The whole-school approach as a tool to prevent radicalisation and extremism’, and in Berlin on the 2nd April 2019 focusing on the ‘Education for digital democratic citizenship in the Internet era: Challenges and opportunities’.

To learn more about the EU CONVINCE project follow #EUConvince# (Twitter) and #Schoolsforinclusion (Facebook).