In 2013, the year devoted to Citizens (“European year of Citizens”) we wrote the following article, published in the magazine of Kindergarten by Edizioni Gulliver. Here are the main points that still remain relevant:
“Nowadays the European Union represents an abstract concept, being often only a prerogative of an elite of experts and essentially tied almost exclusively to the economic and financial issues of the States. The EU still remains far from its citizens, too often unaware of several opportunities it can offer. 2013 has been proclaimed “European Year of Citizens”, in order to bring about a change of trend, so that the EU can become a matter of common conscience, as well as a tool for improving the personal and professional life of the people of Member States. The education system remains fundamental as the main actor for this change. Citizenship education in Europe, in fact, should have an important role starting from primary education. The European Year underlines the importance of the awareness of being European citizens since childhood. Primary education can prepare even the youngest to become active citizens by providing them with the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to contribute to the development of the well-being of the society in which they live. Early childhood education and care are fundamental, as it is known that, at this stage, education can have a more lasting impact on the development of children, who build the foundations of key attitudes and models right in the course of their earliest years. Learning of the concepts of community and citizenship, enhancing the perception of belonging to a “common European Home” together with the value of diversity and interculturality, lay the first effective foundations to grow active and responsible citizens. In fact, social and civic competences are included in the eight “key competencies” for Lifelong Learning, defined by the Council and the European Parliament at the end of 2006 “.
A lot of work has been done but there is still a lot to do and the support is there! Thanks to the development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), the European Union also offers simple tools to create intercultural bridges: the online twinning between schools is today a successful experience.”ETwinning” is an online community, which now has almost 170,000 registered users, more than 5,324 ongoing projects, 105,797 schools and offers numerous opportunities to meet and have exchanges with other European educational institutions ….. Starting from January 1st, 2014 the new “Erasmus plus Programme” includes not only the current lines of funding relating to the education and training sector but also those relating to youth and sport. Indeed, lifelong learning has become a necessity for all citizens. Individual skills and competencies must be developed throughout life, not only for personal satisfaction and for the ability to actively participate in society, but also to be able to face a constantly evolving world of work successfully.
… so let’s go to projects!
“EU projects currently need a complex and multisectoral competency but needed in times of change, in order to give to the education system the resources useful for its support and development in the future. Through skills updating and cultural exchange, the teacher interested in presenting educational projects, will be able to acquire on the one hand the technical planning skills related to the knowledge of the different European Programmes and on the other hand skills related to “participatory planning”, able to implement resources on different European areas thanks to collaborative work in partnership. Commitment and perseverance is the invitation we make to transform Europe into an opportunity within everyone’s reach “.