Equity, inclusion and support for professionals remain most pressing challenges for European education systems

In this year’s European Education Summit, Eurochild presented as part of the panel on Quality Early Childhood Education and Care in Practice

The European Education Summit took place on 30 November 2023. It is the annual flagship event of the European Education Area (EEA) that brings together policymakers from EU institutions and beyond, and the European education and training communities. During the Summit, the results of mid-term review of the EEA were shared, the 2023 Education and Training Monitor was published, and new Erasmus+ funding calls were announced.

Eurochild’s reflections:

A red thread throughout this year’s edition was the ongoing challenges with equitable and inclusive access, and staff shortages across European education systems. There are approximately 20 million children across Europe growing up in poverty and social exclusion, and education is an essential pillar in each of these children’s lives.

Eurochild participated in this year’s Summit, as part of its panel on Quality Early Childhood Education and Care in practice. It is exciting to see the European Commission offered spotlight to children’s early years, reflecting the work that Eurochild and our partners have carried out to prioritise early childhood development in the EU agenda.

“Knowing that the seeds of inequality are sown in the first years of life, addressing inequalities in early years becomes essential”, said Agata D’Addato, Eurochild Head of Programmes and coordinator of the First Years, First Priority campaign. Investment in early childhood needs to be an essential and integral part of countries’ strategies to attain lifelong learning societies and sustainable development. There is a clear need for more countries in Europe to implement a comprehensive and integrated early childhood development system.

There is no one-solution to ensure access to inclusive education – there has to be a comprehensive and integrated approach to meet the needs of all children. We must promote a systemic change that encompasses equity, engagement, respect for diversity, social and emotional development and learning, mental health and well-being, promoting a healthy lifestyle, and protecting children from violence on- and offline. This also requires more investment in the professionals that work in the sector. School professionals have a crucial role in contributing to shaping up a society where inclusion, tolerance, justice and non-discrimination prevail.

Eurochild is also participating in the European Commission’s Working Group on Schools: Sub-group on Pathways to School Success to bring this perspective to EU and Member States’ efforts to promote more equity and well-being in school systems.

Children’s Rights: Political will or won’t?, Eurochild’s 2023 report on children in need across Europe identifies country-level challenges and solutions to addressing children’s most pressing needs, including in relation to early childhood development (ECD) and education. The report gathers information from 38 Eurochild members in 26 European countries.

In early 2024, Eurochild will publish sub-reports from this year’s report on ECD and education.

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