Standing Conference of European Ministers of Education
21st session - “Intercultural education: managing diversity, strengthening democracy”, Athens, Greece, 10-12 November 2003

Declaration by the European Ministers of Education on intercultural education in the new European context
Resolution to foster the integration of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in educational systems in Europe

Declaration by the European Ministers of Education on intercultural education in the new European context

We, the European Ministers of Education of the 48 States Parties to the European Cultural Convention, meeting on the occasion of the 21st session of the Standing Conference in Athens, from 10 to 12 November 2003, adopt the following Declaration:

1. Reiterating, in this symbolic place where it was born, that democracy – the political system common to all our states – is the reference value for both current and future generations;

2. Observing the diversity of our societies in terms of ethnicity, culture, languages, religions and education systems;

3. Having noted the social conflicts and disagreements that may result from the coexistence of different value systems;

4. Wishing to preserve the multicultural nature of European society and to avoid a situation in which globalisation exacerbates the processes of exclusion and marginalisation;

5. Aware of the disturbing persistence in our societies of xenophobic and racist practices, violence and intolerance that sometimes affect education establishments;

6. Recognising that, for over 50 years, the Council of Europe has been working in theory and practice on the development of education for democracy:

– by applying the fundamental values of the Organisation, in particular human rights, pluralist democracy and the rule of law;

– by emphasising the learning of democracy, as one of the objectives of education policy in Europe, particularly since the first Summit of Heads of State and Government (Vienna, October 1993);

– by capitalising on the wealth of experience gained by the Council of Europe through its priority projects in the education field;

– by implementing the mandate given to the Council of Europe following the second Summit of Heads of State and Government (Strasbourg, October 1997), which recognised education as a priority for the development of democracy and human rights;

7. Recognising the role of intercultural education and the major contribution of the Council of Europe in maintaining and developing the unity and diversity of our European societies;

8. Reiterate our attachment to the European Cultural Convention as the fundamental text where European cooperation in the education field is concerned, and wish to give practical effect to this statement:

– by being closely associated with the celebrations in 2004 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Convention's entry into force;

– by backing the principle to study the possibility of drawing up an additional protocol which would update the text of the Convention to take into account the most significant developments that have occurred in the last few decades as well as the future priorities in the field of education;

– the implementation, in the framework of Recommendation (2001)15 of the Committee of Ministers on “Teaching history in the 21st century” of the “Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust and for the Prevention of Crimes against Humanity” and the new project on the “European dimension in history teaching”, devoted to key dates in the history of the European continent;

– the success achieved by the European Year of Languages and the henceforth annual “European Day of Languages”, which each year celebrates linguistic diversity and strengthens intercultural education;

– the launch of the project “the new intercultural challenge to education: religious diversity and dialogue in Europe”, which will make a major contribution to the shared goals of mutual understanding, respect, and learning to live together;

– the implementation, in the framework of Recommendation R(2000)4 of the Committee of Ministers of the project on “Education for Roma/Gypsy children”, a project that highlights the principles of intercultural education;

– the programme on the strategies and initiatives aimed at learning democracy, pursued in conjunction with higher education institutions, and concerned with the Bologna Process, the Lisbon Convention (drawn up jointly with Unesco), participatory governance, quality assurance and public accountability, under a life-long learning approach;

– the project on “education for democratic citizenship and human rights”, a project which should be extended during the “Year of Citizenship through Education” in 2005 and beyond, through the implementation of Recommendation (2002)12 and development of the concept of learning democracy;

10. Call on the Council of Europe :

- to attach greater importance to education in general and, on the strength of its experience in this area, to successfully pursue the aspects of its work programme relating to, amongst others, educational policies, history teaching, language policies and education for democratic citizenship;

- to pursue its co-operation in the field of education for citizenship and democracy on the basis of the fundamental principles of the Organisation;

- to focus its work programme on enhancing the quality of education as a response to the challenges posed by the diversity of our societies by making democracy learning and intercultural education key components of educational reform;

11. Request the Council of Europe, as an organisation with a wealth of experience in the fields of managing diversity, intercultural education and quality education, to tailor its education programme and working methods in order to implement the following strategies and give fresh impetus to these activities by developing a coherent, feasible and integrated action plan;

In this connection, it should:

12. Call on the Council of Europe to organise a European Year of Citizenship through Education (2005), which will make it possible to capitalise on and implement the achievements of the Council of Europe in the field of education for democracy;

13. Recognise the specific contribution of the Council of Europe to education for democracy and wish new synergies to be forged between the work of this Organisation and that of its major partners, particularly the European Union, Unesco and the OECD;

14. Give support to existing global processes dedicated to the development of education, such as Education for All (Dakar Action Plan), Quality Lifelong Learning, Education for Sustainable Development (such as the United Nations Decade on Education for Sustainable Development), and Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights;

15. Are resolved to make the necessary arrangements to take intercultural education into account as an important component of our education policies; this entails appropriate measures at the levels of curricula, school governance and teacher training.

Resolution to foster the integration of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in educational systems in Europe 

The European Ministers of Education, meeting at the 21st session of their Standing Conference in Athens on 10-12 November 2003,

CONSIDERING that the ongoing development of the new communication and information services should serve to promote the right of every person to express, seek, receive and transmit information and ideas, for the benefit of every individual and of a democratic culture in society;

WELCOMING this development as an important factor in enabling all the member states and every individual to participate in building a communications society throughout the European continent;

CONSIDERING that the education systems of all member states have a key role to play in ensuring the creation of a knowledge based society,


CONVINCED that the use of the new communication and information services can give everyone easier and enhanced possibilities of participating in the dissemination of information, of receiving training and participating in communication beyond borders, with a view to increased international understanding and mutual enrichment of cultures;

REALISING that the skills and the knowledge required to use information and communication technologies (ICTs) and thus digital literacy, should be seen as essential for professional and everyday life in the communication society;

AWARE of the challenge education systems in Europe face today in implementing the most appropriate pedagogical approaches and practices supported by and taking full advantage of ICTs, in order to improve learning and offer all citizens a wider range of learning opportunities and service;

CONCERNED ABOUT social, economic and technical discrepancies that exist at national, regional and local level regarding the development of the new communication and information services as well as the dangers of a digital divide inherent in this development;

CONVINCED that training in the use of these technologies for society in general, and the younger generations in particular, helps to reduce inequalities between them and guarantee their better integration in the world of information, communication, lifelong learning, culture and employment;

HAVING NOTED with interest the problems examined in the studies conducted in the framework of the project “Learning and teaching in the communication society” (documents CD-ED 2003 22/ 23/ 24) concerning the challenges from the communication society facing the education systems in Europe;


AGREE to implement the following principles in line with national education policies:

1. The generalisation of ICT-based teaching practices in educational systems should include:

2. Policymakers should encourage developments in the teaching professions by:

3. Higher education institutions involved in basic and continuing teacher training should focus teaching and research on the educational use of information and communication technologies (ICTs):

4. Policy decisions should be implemented to stimulate the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in network building:


RECOMMEND the Committee of Ministers to: