European Parents Association
Brussels – 19 & 20 February 2000
49 Presidents of 21 Countries representing the national parents associations, members of EPA, met at the European level to exchange and compare in order to promote education.
- Education is one of the fundamental domains of European democracy;
- Parents and their associations play an essential role and are unavoidable actors of the civil society;
- First educators of their children, parents and their associations cannot be ignored, rejected or left out of the decision-making process;
- The role of parents associations in the different countries is very different;
- The place of parents in the school is also different,
The Presidents demand:
- that EPA, a voluntary organisation, at the European level, be recognised by the political and administrative authorities, the teachers, head teachers, parents and public opinion;
- that parents associations be clearly established and parents rights acknowledged and legally recognised.
Points to be quickly taken in consideration:
· Recognition of the time devoted by parents
At all levels, from the class to the ministry, parents are representing parents. The educational authorities must recognise that the participation of parents in various bodies requires considerable time and in the majority of countries they do this work on a voluntary basis.
Employers have to guarantee flexible working hours for parent representatives.
Ministries have to grant compensation, even partial, to parent representatives.
- Training of parents and teachers
The training of parents is fundamental. It must take place at all levels, at the individual level, in the family, in the parents associations, in the school and in society.
This training must be implemented in a continuous and structured project. The educational systems must provide financial support from public funds for these training programmes.
Teachers, who are in constant contact with parents, are generally poorly prepared on communication and partnership with parents. Initiatives are beginning, but request is made that this training be included in initial and in-service teacher training.
- Language learning
The knowledge of several languages is essential for the communication in and the construction of Europe. It is also important for the personal and social development of each person. The results of language learning in many European countries are insufficient with respect to the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s Europe.
The quality of language teaching is a primary objective. It is urgent to define the means necessary to achieving this objective.
Introduction to a foreign language should start as early as primary school.
Language acquisition is often more efficient when the teacher is a native speaker. Flexible solutions should be found to recognise the competence of native speakers and to remove obstacles, such as the requirement of a diploma in the respective country.
- Special needs
The individual needs of children are different. The necessary resources must be made available, taking specially care of the needs of the less fortunate children.
The parents of children with special needs must be listened to and considered as important partners throughout their children’s education.
In conclusion, the Presidents
- expect the demands formulated in this manifesto to be seriously studied by the European and national authorities.
- mandate EPA to relay these requests to the European level, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity and in agreement with the national level.
- underline to what extent a concerted approach at the European level can enrich their own strategies and those of the national ministries.
- ask the European authorities, Commission, Parliament, Council of Ministers, to clearly indicate the role of parents in their recommendations and programmes even if they recognise their formal role. In the same way, the national ministries must establish clear rules and see to it that they are respected.
- are aware that the European authorities recognise that the national associations within EPA significantly contribute, through their work, to the construction of Europe.