Teachers for the future- collaborative agents for development of inclusive schools and societies
Thematic Area: Equal Access to education
Reflecting on the discussions and challenges faced by all IPA countries, ETF is jointly organising with the Turkish Government, Ministry of National Education and EU Delegation in Turkey the Regional Meeting” Schools for Inclusive Education in the Western Balkans and Turkey” Şanlıurfa, Turkey, 4-6 October 2010. The meeting will bring together members of the ETF-supported Balkan Regional Policy Network. It includes 5-6 representatives from each of the IPA region countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo (as defined by UNSCR 1244), the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey. Other members of the network who will attend come from the European Commission’s DG Enlargement, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, representatives from Delegations of European Union, the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), the Council of Europe, the EU Agency for Special Education, the Roma Education Fund (REF), the Open Society Institute (OSI), and many distinguished experts from public institutions and NGOs from EU Member States.
Social inclusion is an overarching concept which encompasses the full participation by all people, irrespectively of their social differences (such as gender, ethnicity, social class and disability), in economic, social and cultural life. It also ensures their participation in the decision making which affects their lives and access to their fundamental rights. Education and training can potentially promote respect, tolerance, interethnic dialogue, and non-discrimination with the goals of reducing social distance and achieving social cohesion.
Inspired and guided by the EU policy frameworks and discussions, the ETF’work on social inclusion focuses its attention on cooperation with partner countries in the property of gender equality and equity, lifelong guidance, sustainable development and social inclusion. Building systems and providing responses to human capital challenges which are equitable, inclusive and sustainable is both a positive indicator of human development, and has long-term benefits for society, and economic and social development thus contributing to competitiveness and well-being.
Throughout 2009 and 2010, the ETF has been working very closely with the Western Balkans and Turkey authorities to support them in enhancing their understanding of inclusive education and training as a strategic response to current human capital development reform challenges. The ongoing discussions in these countries is on how to further strengthen the professional and organisational autonomy of all schools including VET schools, and how to encourage and support them to become holistic, integrated learning organisations. Teachers and trainers skills and competences for inclusive education have been the focus. There is a common agreement that teachers need to be supported by policy, by curriculum developers, teacher trainers, school managers, pedagogical advisers, other professional staff, parents, representatives from the various ethnic communities, as well as local authorities and other stakeholders. The ultimate aim is to support school management and teachers in developing their own roles as active, self-improving professionals participating as collaborative agents in the change and development process of the school as a whole.
The ETF has carried out country analysis on policies and practices on teacher preparation in IPA region. In order to analyse the relevant aspects of the regional context and how to enhance and support the processes at country and regional level, a cross country report has been finalised and its findings will be discussed during this regional meeting. The cross country report maps the issues, challenges and opportunities for initial teacher education and teacher professional development for inclusive education in the Western Balkans, and analysis these in relation to relevant European and international trends. The report provides research evidence for improving policies and practices for the development of teachers in the Western Balkans. The cross-country analysis is intended to inform country and regional level discussions involving counterparts in each country, European Commission services (especially DG EMPL, DG ELARG and DG EAC), ETF and other relevant development partners.
This regional discussion platform will give the participants the opportunity to discuss the findings of the regional report and discuss and share their vision of key issues concerning schools for inclusive education and identify new perspectives for work at country and regional level. The discussions will address the following questions:
- What key factors do schools/communities need to take into account in the development of policies for awareness raising, knowledge building, and reflection on social inclusion and exclusion processes?
- Are the staff willing and prepared to innovate in their teaching approaches which requires support (training but also exchange of practice)? What are the main policies to be developed and implemented in regard to teacher professional development and school development?
- What is the role of leadership (at the level of policy but also at the level of education and training institutions) in supporting institutional capacity for the development of an inclusive teaching and learning culture within schools/training institutions?
Put simply, lifelong learning means that people can – and should have the opportunity to – learn throughout their lives.
Increased labour mobility across borders brings the skills issue onto the international agenda so the ETF also focuses on policy actions related to skills and employment of both emigrants and returnees.
The ETF aims to develop the capacity of partner country institutions and other stakeholders in developing, monitoring and reviewing policies in the areas of entrepreneurial learning and enterprise skills.
“Employment”: promoting better functioning and inclusive labour markets and vocational education and training systems in ETF partner countries.
The ETF's role in qualifications is to provide expertise for the reform of qualifications systems in partner countries, in their various stages of planning and implementation.
Teachers are a critical factor in education reforms. The ETF takes therefore the role of schools and teachers seriously throughout its work.
Quality assurance is provided through the development of methodological instruments to facilitate a structured policy learning process, integrating quality assurance principles, and reinforcing the quality assurance dimension in the Torino Process.
Governance modes and models have a high correlation with the overall performance of education and training policies, influencing their strategic formulation and implementation.