Standing Conference of European Ministers of Education
13th Session - Dublin, Ireland, 10-12 May 1983

Statement on the compulsory secondary school adolescents and the curriculum

Resolution on migrants' education (N1)

*Resolution on European co-operation on education (N2)

Statement on the compulsory secondary school adolescents and the curriculum  

(adopted during the Thirteenth Session of the Standing Conference of  Ministers of Education of the Council of Europe, Dublin, 10-12 May 1983)

The European Ministers of Education at the Thirteenth Session of the Standing Conference,

HAVING TAKEN NOTE with interest of the fundamental questions covered in the Discussion Paper (M ED-13-5),

ADOPT the following Statement:

1. Over the past decades most European countries have succeeded in introducing important reforms in their education system. Pre-school facilities have become widespread ; compulsory schooling has generally been extended more opportunity for the pupil s individual development has been sought by broadening the curriculum and by eliminating early streaming technical and general subjects have become more closely linked.

2. The implementation of such policies may not everywhere be complete. Moreover, in spite of some deep-reaching and positive changes, there is currently in many European countries a mood for dissatisfaction and anxiety about the progress achieved. Conspicuously, there is still a gap between the generous and egalitarian intentions of education reform, and the reality of the results obtained. In addition, new problems have arisen since these policies were developed. Unemployment and the prolonged economic crisis have changed the context. Whatever the cause, too many young people fail to realise their potential, and leave school without qualifications or without proficiency in skills necessary for everyday living. They often come from disadvantaged families and are particularly vulnerable in our rapidly-changing and increasingly competitive society.

3. The problem of pupils' lack of motivation in school may be part of a more general feeling of alienation : truancy, violence in the school, juvenile, delinquency, teenage alcoholism and other drug abuse often ought to be seen as connected problems. Am underlying cause of alienation for many young people must be the prospect they face of prolonged unemployment.

4. Disillusion caused by the apparent lack of relevance of the curriculum - which differs from country to country but is often criticised as having insufficient relation to the realities of life and work - may also be an important factor. It is, therefore, crucial to re-examine the nature of the education provided in the last years of compulsory school, particularly in the context of the difficulties experienced by young people today in finding a productive place in society. The last years of compulsory schooling also coincide with the period of adolescence, which for many pupils involves psychological and emotional strains with accompanying fluctuations of interest and receptivity. In addition to carrying out its traditional role of transmitting knowledge and values, the school must equip its pupils to meet the challenges and problems involved in the transition to adult life.

5. This need not inevitably involve educational authorities in a quest for radically new concepts and policy principles or in major structural upheavals. It may more often be a matter of ensuring the more widespread application of successful innovation, and of carrying through to the realities of each learning situation the ideals, so often endorsed in recent years by Ministers of Education, of equality of opportunity, of elimination of inequality between the sexes and of concern for the individual pupil.

6. There is an urgent need to work out once more a new approach to education based on a broad public consensus in order to meet present and future challenges in a changing society. The teaching dispensed in the lower secondary school should aim at giving both girls and boys of this age group:

A. A positive sense of their own identity

The school should establish a climate where the achievements of all pupils can be positively acknowledged; concern for academic progress per se should be matched by recognition of a wider range of values and attainments which should be encouraged and experienced in the learning situation: e.g. reliability, perseverance, sense of duty, skill in cooperation and interpersonal transactions, tolerance, fairness and honesty;

B. The basic knowledge and skills necessary for everyday living

This includes grounding in communication (i.e. in the mother tongue and in at least one other language) and self-expression, numeracy, science and technology, social studies, ethics, cultural activities and sport. The aims should be to encourage the development of practical competence in areas relevant to the roles the pupils will take up in later life ; to promote creativity and adaptability, and to develop a positive attitude to life-long learning.

One of the chief objectives of compulsory secondary education should be to prepare young people for the vocational and personal choices they will have to make during this crucial period of their lives.

The curriculum should further be adapted to integrate within existing subjects an understanding and awareness of present-day problems such as management of the environment and consumer practice, as well as equipping young people to handle critically the knowledge and information they receive notably through the media.

Practical topics of everyday application (such as health and consumer education) should find their place in the curriculum;

C. Practical experience of how they will be able to contribute to society

In order to prepare young people for life in adult society the compulsory secondary school should, through its own practices, provide experience of democratic processes, create opportunities to test abilities and interests, through practical work experience where appropriate, and demonstrate the value of cooperative effort involving complementary skills and talents. The overall aim should be to encourage effective exercise of rights and responsibilities within democratic and pluralistic society.

7. More important than any consideration as to what specific subject matter should be included, is the message the school must convey : that it respects the dignity of each pupil as an individual and a member of society and aims to promote his or her personal competence. The essential element in attaining this goal is the quality and commitment of teachers and the resources available to them. It must be recognised that teachers have not only to impart knowledge to their pupils but also to convey through their own example the values and desirable attitudes of the society in which they live.

8. To help them carry out their task teachers require in particular support in the form of full initial and continued training and staff development programmes ; head teachers should have training in management and leadership ; classes should be kept to reasonable size; all teachers should further have access to professional advice on techniques for working with groups and on the psychological development of adolescents. With, falling rolls in many countries and large numbers of well-qualified teachers without posts, such measures may be seen as feasible options.

9. Budgetary considerations should not preclude the making of provision for quality and innovative potential. in education. Compulsory secondary education must be enabled to cater for special needs, e.g. by means of supplementary facilities for those with serious learning difficulties and for the handicapped ; a system to provide early warning in the case of a child likely to fall below the minimal acceptable level of attainment in basic subjects ; priority facilities for particularly disadvantaged areas ; additional provision for specially gifted academic or artistic pupils.

10. The education process does not take place in isolation but is part of a complex network of influences on young people in which the wider community, and parents above all, have an educational role to play. Schools alone cannot solve the problems of their pupils or of society but they have a major responsibility to guide young people through the difficult phase of adolescence.

To meet the challenges of the future, education policies have to be devised in close cooperation with other areas of policy, such as culture, social affairs, labour, family affairs and economics, which have an important influence on the future of young people.

Resolution on migrants' education (N1)  

(adopted during the Thirteenth Session of the Standing Conference of  Ministers of Education of the Council of Europe, Dublin, 10-12 May 1983)

The European Ministers of Education at the Thirteenth Session of the Standing Conference,

REAFFIRMING the principles set out in Resolutions devoted to the educational and cultural development of migrants by preceding Sessions of the Standing Conference,

WELCOMING the progress achieved and the research undertaken by member States in this field, and at the same time RECOGNISING the need to reinforce current efforts for the education and cultural development of migrants,

TAKING NOTE with interest of the Report by Mr. Georges Vignaux on "The Education of Migrant Children : Problems and Prospects",

NOTING the changing pattern of migration, the broadening of scientific and pedagogical approaches, a greater responsiveness to the variety of cultural situations associated with migration,

CONSIDERING that countries of origin and host countries share a concern to provide migrants and their children with improved conditions of life and that, within the coordinated policy measures required for this purpose, provision of appropriate education and cultural development facilities is essential in view of the common obligations recognised by these countries,

NOTING that among those considered within the category of "migrants" for whom special education provision should be made, in addition to migrant workers who will return after a limited period spent abroad, there is now a growing proportion of

- adult migrants who still need assistance to complete their social and economic integration into the host country ;

- migrants' descendants (of the second and third generations) living in the host country

- non-working adults (the unemployed, women not employed outside the home) who may experience particular difficulties with regard to integration insofar as they lack opportunities for cultural and social contacts ;and accepting that each of these groups requires appropriate education measures,

RECOMMEND that the Governments of member States and in particular the Ministers of Education base their action on the following principles

I. General policy

- Due account should be taken of the educational and cultural needs of migrants and the appropriate resources should be made available to meet those needs.

- Countries of origin and host countries should cooperate to create for migrants and their children a rightful place in education, training and culture.:

to enable them to participate fully in the social life of the host country,

to give them equal opportunity in relation to nationals of the host country for their personal and professional development,

to enable them to maintain links with their culture of origin, not only to facilitate their return to their country of origin should they so desire, but also to foster their own development and to enhance their contribution to the society in which they live.

- Educational programmes, materials and situations should increasingly be designed to integrate in a dynamic way the cultural contributions of migrants in the various countries of Europe, with the aim of achieving an intercultural dimension in education.

II. Curriculum and structure

A number of important advances have already been made in most European countries towards achieving an intercultural dimension in education - special arrangements for the reception of migrant children ;

- special arrangements for the teaching of languages and cultures of origin, beginning at an early age

- development of cultural information materials for all children and teachers ;

- corresponding revision of general school text-books.

To add weight to these measures, they should be extended wherever possible and should be given the widest possible impact by intensifying bilateral and multilateral co-operation.

The maintenance of links with migrant children's culture of origin should be considered as part of the whole education process. Account should be taken of activities concerned with the language and culture of migrants in the assessment of education results, in so far as they are provided within the ordinary school framework.

Active cooperation between sending and receiving countries should be encouraged. With a view, inter alia, to developing teaching materials and organising joint teacher training courses and experimental sessions to design curriculum content.

III. Teachers

The success of any school education policy clearly depends to a large extent on teaching staff. Generalised training should be arranged for all host country teachers to increase their awareness of the benefits of, and obstacles to, intercultural understanding.

Teachers giving lessons in migrants' own language and culture should be suitably qualified. Arrangements should be made for their selection, training, retraining and in-service training. Wherever possible, such arrangements should be discussed in bilateral education commissions.

IV. Education and adult migrants

Wherever possible, special provision should be made to improve the education, vocational training and cultural development of migrants within adult education schemes including guidance and training programmes designed to improve their career prospects.

Relations between the school and migrant families should be fostered, possibly in conjunction with migrants' cultural associations, in order to avoid the creation of a cultural gap between patents and their children.

Special attention should be paid to the position of the female migrants, who may in some cases suffer cumulative cultural disadvantages preventing them from participating fully in social life.

V. Research

Within the intercultural approach to education, it is necessary to intensify research in several directions :

parameters for defining "cultural identity" and related behaviour

bilingualism and multiculturalism

intercultural communication

rigidity of cultural attitudes, rejection of other cultures, racism

situations and processes of social marginalisation.

VI. Information

On the one hand, migrants should receive information about the culture and lifestyle of the host country where they are to take up residence, if possible prior to their departure ; on the other, the cultures of migrants' countries of origin should be presented to nationals of the host country in a practical and lively way. This presupposes the organisation in common of activities to heighten awareness, in which the press, radio and television could play a major part.

The Ministers ASK the Committee of Senior Officials to study the feasibility of making a survey of the results achieved by the member States (legislation, curricula, cooperation and bilateral agreements, teacher training, research) in order to stimulate the development of education policy in this field.

*Resolution on European co-operation on education (N2)  

(adopted during the Thirteenth Session of the Standing Conference of  Ministers of Education of the Council of Europe, Dublin, 10-12 May 1983)

The European Ministers of Education at the Thirteenth Session of the Standing Conference :

1. EXPRESS their warmest gratitude to the Irish authorities for their generous hospitality during the present Session


i. Unesco, OECD, the Council of Europe, the European Community and the Nordic Council of Ministers (1) for their highly informative contributions to the Progress Report on "European cooperation on education" (2)

ii. Mr. Vanbergen for his perceptive introduction to this report

3. RECOMMEND that the Progress Report should be distributed as widely as possible among policy-makers not only in the educational but also in the social, cultural and economic sectors ;

4. STRESS the importance of educational policy as an essential element of European cooperation and the need for greater concentration of effort and more significant effects ;

5. REAFFIRM therefore their profound belief in the value of the Standing Conference which allows Ministers, senior officials and representatives of the Organisations to take stock of the progress of European cooperation on education, to exchange views on common problems and developments, and to identify priority areas for European action and cooperation ;

6. RECOGNISE that the work of the Organisations corresponds to the priorities for cooperation identified by Ministers at recent Sessions of this Conference. In particular they welcome the efforts and results achieved in the promotion of language learning and the projects relating to this subject planned for the coming years ; these correspond to the Resolutions adopted at the Second and Third Sessions of the Conference held in Hamburg in 1961 and in Rome in 1962. The Ministers note with satisfaction the recommendation on Modern Languages adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in September 1982. They wish to stress the importance of continuing and strengthening efforts to promote language-learning in Europe ;

7. WELCOME the emphasis that is being given, in the programmes of the Organisations, to new subjects which have far-reaching economic, social and cultural implications e.g.

i. the links between education and training,

ii. the links between education and local and regional development,

iii. the new information and communications technologies,

iv. cultural and linguistic pluralism.

These subjects reflect the changed position of education in the new social and economic situation in member States. In this context continuing and intensified international cooperation is necessary in the following areas :

i. school failure and under-achievement,

ii. education for democratic citizenship,

iii. environmental problems,

iv. teacher training,

V. exchanges and visits to foster cultural understanding and language learning,

vi. transition of young people from school to working and adult life,

vii. spreading of knowledge about new technologies and responsible utilisation of them in everyday life,

viii. education of migrant workers and their children.

8. NOTE with satisfaction the adoption by the Organisations of practical, operational working methods, which involve',, in the process of European cooperation on education, greater numbers of people directly concerned with educational problems, in particular teachers, parents, pupils and students, and economic and social groups. In this context the Organisations might wish to take account of the contribution which can be made to European cooperation on education by international non-governmental organisations. Not only can they be a valuable source of ideas and advice, but they can also act as relays for the dissemination of the work of the Organisations
9. ASK the Committee of Senior Officials to commission, for their Fourteenth Session, the preparation of a detailed comparative study of the working methods used by the Organisations. Such a study could be a valuable element for further reflections by the Ministers in European cooperation on education, and it could also act as a useful instrument for the Organisations themselves

10. INVITE national authorities and the Organisations to identify and apply more effective procedures to disseminate the results of the Organisations' work to interested individuals and institutions. For example, the Organisations could include a dissemination phase in the timetable of each major project. These efforts could be matched by a more systematic dissemination policy on the part of national authorities

11. WELCOME the steps that have been taken by the Organisations, in response to requests by Ministers, at recent Sessions of the Conference, to improve their methods of consultation and cooperation, in particular by

i. holding regular inter-secretariat meetings,

ii. using each other's documentation,

iii. sending observers to each other's meetings,

iv. holding joint meetings and, where possible, co-financing activities.

These measures should be intensified to ensure that the best use is made of the resources available for European cooperation on education ;

12. ACCEPT with pleasure the invitation by the Belgian authorities to hold the Fourteenth Session in Belgium in 1985 on "Education and training opportunities for young people aged 16-19". The Ministers invite the Organisations to contribute to the documentation to be prepared for their discussions on this theme and to a further Progress Report on European cooperation on education. The Ministers will also review, at their Fourteenth Session, the comparative study of the working methods used by the Organisations, as well as the action taken, at national and European level, to implement the proposals contained in the Statement on "Education and equality of opportunity for girls and women" adopted at the Eleventh Session ;

13. NOTE with pleasure the interest of the Finnish authorities in organising the Fifteenth Session.

(1) Hereafter referred to as ''the Organisations"
(2) Document M ED-13-7.