Eastern Partnership Conference on Common Values through Education and Culture (25-26.06.2019, Tbilisi, Georgia).
Event title: Eastern Partnership Conference – Promoting Common Values through Education and Culture
Date: 25 – 26th of June 2019
Venue: Holiday Inn Tbilisi, Georgia
Programme and materials: https://ec.europa.eu/education/events/promoting-common-values-through-education-and-culture-eastern-partnership-conference_en
Decision-makers, administrators, practitioners and academics from the six EaP countries, EU Member States and the EU administration. The conference’s opening session features the EU’s Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, the Georgian Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport Mikheil Batiashvili, and the EU’s Ambassador to Georgia, Carl Hartzell. In general, about 250 participants took part in the event.
Participants from Ukraine (National Erasmus + office, HERE Team) was represented by:
• Yuriy Rashkevych, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine,
• Mychailo Wynnyckyj, Head of the Secretariat, National Agency for Higher Education Quality Assurance.
• Volodymyr Bakhrushyn, Professor of the Department of System Analysis and Computational Mathematics of Zaporizhzhya National Technical University.
• Petro Krainik, National Erasmus+ Office, Ukraine
The conference was one of the anniversary events devoted the ten years of the Eastern Partnership.
The purpose of the conference was toconsiders how cooperation in the fields of education, youth and culture can strengthen citizenship, common values and inclusiveness, looking both at policies and practice.
The conference began with welcome speechesof Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport; Mikheil Batiashvili, Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia; Carl Hartzell, Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia.
Mr. Tibor Navracsicsasked the question whether the values determined by Treaty on European Union are really common. According to him “it is a battle”. Europe is becoming less ordered, more diverse and polarized.Education is one of the main means of promoting common values. At the same time, it is not only a right, but also a value.Academic freedom is one of the core values, but also is an important mean of achieving economic prosperity, resist to indoctrination, mutual understanding and tolerance.
Then Prof. Dr. Jan Wouters made the keynote speech: “Taking the Fundamental Values of the European Union Seriously”.
He asked the question: what is the European Union fundamentally about? What is “the soul” of the European project? Is it about economic integration, political integration, a peace project, a human rights project? He gave a brief overview of EU legislation and concluded that EU is fundamentally about an idea, about a vision on the relationship between the human individual and society.
Economic and political integration, a common market and a single citizenship are important EU objectives. But EU is not the United States of Europe. Maintaining national identity is one of the main goals. EU is important for stability and prosperity across Europe, within and beyond its borders. European law is a “gentle civilizer of European nations”. Since the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force the EU has become also a human rights project. The Lisbon Treaty was a kind of “human rights” revolution for the Union, even though the EU’s policies and actions on the ground do not always match the high expectations.
The Union has evolved from a primarily economic construct to a Union of values. It is founded on fundamental values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy,equality,theruleoflawandrespectforhumanrights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities(Article 2 of the TEU).
But in practice the common understanding and depth of these values remains rather limited. Charter of Fundamental Rights is still not widely known and understood. Member States fight over financial support for Eurozone countries in difficulties, or over the redistribution of asylum seekers. National pension systems may go broke in a number of years. Climate change will make its effects felt harshly upon some States. Tolerance, justice and pluralism don’t really prevail in European societies. What are the tools which make them prevail in the future?
As the Union has come to encompass an increasingly diverse set of Member States, with somewhat diverging historical trajectories, the multi-layered Union of values has become increasingly a challenge to maintain.There are signs of erosion of some of the fundamental values on the inside of the EU. That erosion takes multiple forms: from populism, xenophobia, nationalism, and discrimination to the spreading of fake news and disinformation,radicalisationandviolentextremism,toruleoflawand democraticbacksliding.
Education is one of the important tools to overcome these problems. TheUnion should giveincentivesforpreparingdidactic materials on the teaching of EU fundamental values in all phases of education in the Member States. Fundamentalvaluesshould be correctly linkedto the lessons of common European history.ByconcretelyshowinghowEuropeansocietieshave,throughouttheir history, faced immense challenges in terms of human rights, democracy, the rule of law, freedom, the protection of minorities, solidarity, human dignity and so on, it is possible to teach young people that there is a deep resilience in our societies to bounce back and to face also new and future challenges, from populism and extremism to fake news.
The first panel discussion was moderated by Natia Zedginidze, Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia. Lusine Arakelyan, Deputy Minister of Science, Education, Culture and Sports of the Republic of Armenia; Yuriy Rashkevych, Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine; Firudin Gurbanov, Deputy Minister of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan; Audrone Perkauskiene, Head of Eastern Partnership – Regional Cooperation and OSCE Division, European External Action Service were the speakers of this session.
The main topics of discussion were achievements and challenges in promoting common values through education and culture in Eastern Partnership countries.
Prof. Dr. Yuriy Rashkevych stressed the importance of using fair and transparent procedures in the various activities of universities. He gave examples of systematic positive impact on the value improvement of the educational environment in Ukraine due to the use of tools of external independent assessment (admission to universities), the mandatory procedure for testing plagiarism of scientific works (first of all – dissertations), the so-called national “wide competition” for student enrollment on both bachelor and master levels of education.
Lusine Arakelyan drew attention to the need for a broader understanding of inclusivity and take into account talented children, national minorities and all other groups that have some differences. She also spoke about the differences in value formation in villages, towns and cities.
Firudin Gurbanov noted that Azerbaijan pay great attention to fostering multiculturalism and tolerance, development of non-formal education. He also spoke of the need to reconcile European values with traditional values.
Audrone Perkauskiene spoke about the importance of freedom of the media and involvement of young people in reforms for the formation of core values. He stressed the need to use the Internet and modern technologies to overcome resource problems, particularly in rural areas.
Natia Zedginidze mentioned that culture is not only about heritage but also about values.
Then three parallel sections were hold: Integrity in Education and Research (moderators Antra Mengele, Erasmus+ National Agency, Latvia; Lana Karlova, National Erasmus+ Office, Armenia), Education for Democratic Participation and Civic Engagement (moderators Gerry O’Sullivan, Erasmus+ National Agency, Ireland; Claudia Melinte, National Erasmus+ Office, Republic of Moldova) and Critical Thinking and Media Literacy (moderators Joгo Santos, Erasmus+ National Agency, Portugal; Parviz Baghirov, National Erasmus+ Office, Azerbaijan). Dr. Mychailo Wynnyckyj was among the speakers of the first session.
Among the speakers at other sections there were two other representatives of Ukraine. Olena Lazorenko, Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum analyzed the Ukrainian case of democratic participation in adult learning policy development. Olena Melnyk, Oleksandr Dovzhenko Hlukhiv National Pedagogical University spoke about the importance of critical thinking for preventing fake information in ecological educating young generation.
At the end of the first day Anna Gevorgyan, HERE, Institute of Public Policy, Armenia; Oksana Krayevska, Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, Ukraine and Kristine Gevorgyan, HERE, Yerevan State University, Armenia reported the results of parallel sessions.
The second day of the study visit began with opening speeches of Dr. Giselle Bosse, Director Centre for European Research in Maastricht (CERiM), Visiting Professor College of Europe – Bruges and Dr. Sergi Kapanadze, Jean Monnet Professor, Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia.
Dr. Giselle Bosse analyzed what factors make (and break) democratic reform progress in EaP countries and the wider post-Soviet areafocusing on the role of education and culture. He concludes that only a combination of EU-specific conditions, domestic factors and external actors leads to quality of democracy. EU instruments are important sufficient conditions for reform progress (norm diffusion) but not necessary conditions. A necessary condition for democratic reform progress is educational standard.
Then the video “EU values” was presented.
After this three parallel sessions were hold: Inclusive Education, Social Cohesion and Gender (moderator – Dr. Lika Glonti, National Erasmus+ Office, Georgia); Role of Teachers in Promoting Common Values (moderators – Dr. Márton Beke, Tempus Public Foundation, Erasmus+ National Agency, Hungary; Petro Krainik, National Erasmus+ Office, Ukraine); Role of Culture in Fostering Common Values (moderators João Santos, Erasmus+ National Agency, Portugal; Ketevan Shengelia, Creative Europe Desk, Georgia).
Prof. Dr. Volodymyr Bakhrushyn was among the speakers of the first session. He presented the results of analysis of inclusive education, social cohesion and gender issues in Ukrainian legislation on higher education. Ukrainian legislation contains certain rules that prohibit discrimination and facilitate access of underrepresented groups to higher education.At the same time, there are some regulations that do not contribute to the participation of these groups or make it more difficult. Also there are some problems which yet are not solved.
Among the speakers at other sections there were four other representatives of Ukraine. In particular, Anastasia Zakharchenko, eTwinning Plus Ukraine told about e-Twinning as a tool for sharing pedagogical approaches. Prof. Olha Kopiievska, National Academy of Top Staff of Culture and Arts, Ukraine issues of socio-cultural partnership.
After this Silva Viilup, Archimedes Foundation, Erasmus+ National Agency, Estonia; Antra Mengele, Erasmus+ National Agency, Latvia; Dr. Oliver Reisner, Ilia State University Tbilisi, Georgia reported the results of parallel sessions.
Patricia Reilly, Deputy Head of Cabinet of Commissioner Navracsics, European Commission made the concluding remarks.
The main learning outcomes of the conference are the following:
1. Better understanding of the problems of promoting European values as an important task of education and culture in the European higher educationarea.
2. Exchange of experience with representatives of European Partnership countrieswhich can accelerate higher education reforming and make reforms more effective.
Conclusions and recommendations for Ukraine
1. To take into account the issues of promoting EU common values in legislation, in particular in education standards.
2. To reform the system of educational statistics to ensure availability of the data need for the analysis and effective resolution of inclusive education, social cohesion and gender parity.
3. To engage more actively the public and particularly youth in the development of educational policies and the promotion of EU values.