European education needed on a more sustainable and long-acting level. We need a European-wide subject “European education” at school.
Like every year around this time I’ll receive the first participant forms to our annual European youth gathering for prize-winners who won the national prize at the European competition “Europe at School” (more information at European competition ). This competition is realised throughout Europe and is implemented in different age categories. Every year the competition is connected to the official motto of the “European Year”.
Thousands of pupils in schools all over Europe write, paint or use multimedia tools to implement the European topics. Generally spoken: they deal with Europe! And that’s what makes the whole event so important.
In Germany many leaders of big companies as well as representative from economic lobby groups are in favour to implement the subject “Economics” at school. Many pupils leave school without having basic understanding of how the economy is running and how interconnected this topic is. It makes sense to teach pupils these basics at school.
But what about Europe? We could achieve a lot when we would initiate a subject “European education”. I’ve met thousands (no exaggeration) of young Europeans between 15 and 19 years old. Most of them and I talk about far more than 80% don’t know much about Europe and the European Union. It is always stressed how important and far-reaching European politics are today for the citizens. If so, why don’t people know about it? I’m not going to analyze the communication policy of the EU – but even if we improve the current approach intensively I doubt that we will have huge success.
What we need is a structured approach already in school. The best way to do this is to have a single subject dedicated to “European education”. That way we would really achieve the European sensitization we all want. This is not about producing people who just praise Europe without being critical. It is about having comprehensive approach to Europe. Everyone is still free to decide whether to be in favour of European integration or not or what is the best way to do European cooperation concretely. Civil society and NGOs will still have their purpose due to the fact that school will not be able to cover all the educational tasks connetcted to European education.
The argument of levelling down again is not appropriate ‘cause what I’m suggesting is education and not a common curriculum for all the countries in Europe. You could have a joint framework with the freedom to fill it as needed. You even don’t need new teachers (even though they are needed anyway) ‘cause you can send in the specialised teachers for the subject if their field of expertise is on the run: History teacher for the integration process, teachers for music and art when it comes to cultural matters, teacher for politics for the institutions etc.
Thus Europe would not remain in deep sleep in the schools but would be strengthened via its very own subject. I predict that the output would be many times more efficient than every Euro spend by the Commission for European PR!