Standing Conference of European Ministers of Education
19th session - “Education 2000: Trends, Common Issues and Priorities for Pan-European Co-operation”, Kristiansand, Norway, 22-24 June 1997

Resolution on trends and common issues in education in Europe: conclusions of Projects that have come to an end (N°1)
Resolution on fundamental values, aims and the future role of educational co-operation in the Council of Europe (N° 2)
Message from the 19th Session of the Standing Conference of the European Ministers of Education to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe

Resolution on trends and common issues in education in Europe: conclusions of Projects that have come to an end (N°1) 

The European Ministers of Education, meeting in Kristiansand for their 19th Session, after having discussed the conclusions of the Projects:

A Secondary Education for Europe;

History Teaching in the New Europe;

Language Learning for European Citizenship;

and taking note of the conclusions of the Project "Access to Higher Education in Europe",

1. CONGRATULATE the Council of Europe on having successfully implemented these four Projects, whose themes and objectives addressed essential questions in the new European context;

2. EMPHASISE the high quality of the reflections, the proposals and the publications from these Projects;

3. OBSERVE that these Projects have made it possible to highlight trends and common issues most likely to reinforce the work of the member States in implementing the basic values and principles of the Council of Europe;

4. WELCOME the fact that these Projects have enabled account to be taken of the special needs of all member States and, in particular, of those which have become Party to the European Cultural Convention during their implementation;

5. RECOMMEND that the results of these Projects should be widely disseminated, in particular, by:

i. using the new CDCC Internet site and multi-media resources;
ii. translation of the documents into languages other than French and English;
iii. co-operation with commercial publishers;
iv. setting up a network of depository libraries;
v. organising, at national level, where appropriate in co-operation with the Information and Documentation Centres on the Council of Europe, dissemination seminars aimed at decision-makers and practitioners as well as representatives of parents, students and the labour and economic markets;

a. With regard to the Project "A Secondary Education for Europe"

6. RECALL that this Project resulted from the conclusions of their 17th and 18th Sessions and aimed at defining how secondary education could:

– give young people the knowledge, skills and attitudes which they will need to meet the major challenges of European society;
– prepare young people for training, higher education, and mobility, work and daily life in a tolerant, democratic, multilingual and multicultural Europe;
– make young people aware of their common cultural heritage and their shared responsibilities as European citizens;
– developing practical ways for helping schools to achieve these goals, in particular by producing teaching materials on the European dimension and by creating structures to enable closer links between schools;

7. OBSERVE that:

– the guides to secondary education in the member States constitute a valuable source of information and an essential tool for reference;
– the monographs and the pedagogical materials on the introduction of the European dimension in schools constitute a concrete set of proposals for the implementation of practical actions;
– the Network for School Links and Exchanges has become an activity in its own right and a means of promoting the European dimension;

8. AGREE that, when working on future reforms, the conclusions of the Project, as they appear in the final reports, should be taken into account, that is to say:

– the right of access for all, and, in particular, the most disadvantaged, to diversified and high quality secondary education with a view to lifelong learning;
– the search for a better balance between the aims and objectives of secondary education, equal status of the academic and vocational areas, the acquisition of knowledge and skills and the training of citizens for democratic society;
– the re-definition of general culture in a rapidly changing world which is becoming increasingly complex and unpredictable, where the priority is to encourage the global development of a well-balanced, motivated and autonomous personality;
– the role of the State and local and regional authorities which are responsible for the education system and the sharing of responsibilities and competence among the different levels of the State and the other partners concerned;
– the setting-up of structures addressing the principles of clearly identifying orientations, streams or options and the realistic perspectives that they offer with a view to increased transparency, simplicity and flexibility;
– the need to develop management and partnership structures and methods with the aim of achieving an education system which works more effectively and more democratically at all levels;
– consideration of a re-definition of the contents of curricula and methods of learning, concentrating on the acquisition and mastery of knowledge and ability defined in terms of skills and key skills and taking into account mobility and the recognition of diplomas at the European level;
– the establishment of policies and overall methods of evaluation, which are broad and diversified as well as quantitative and qualitative, of the different levels and people involved in the education system;
– the need for in-depth consideration of the development of human resources with a view to inter-disciplinarity, and for setting-up educational teams and partnerships in the school, which is considered to be an educational community;
– the importance, in this new context, of initial and in-service training, giving their rightful place to communication skills, inter-disciplinarity and teamwork;
– the search for new strategies and mechanisms for the reforms which are now considered as a continuing process, involving broad-based partnerships;
– the need to introduce the European dimension, while respecting the diversity of national identities in initial and in-service teacher training, into the curricula and school life, not as a new subject, but, in the first instance, as a state of mind and an attitude based on the awareness of mutual influences, and on an open, diversified, pluralist, tolerant and critical approach;

9. RECOMMEND that the Council for Cultural Co-operation and the Education Committee:

– prepare a draft Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to the member States regarding the conclusions of the Project;
– continue their work on current issues concerning the reform of educational policies as a factor of social cohesion and democratic security;
– pursue the actions on the European dimension of education, in particular through the dissemination of publications prepared within the framework of the Project, the development of the "Network for School Links and Exchanges", the "In-service Training Programme for Teachers" and the "Europe at School" activity;

b. With regard to the Project "History Teaching in the New Europe"

10. ARE CONVINCED that history teaching in schools can, and should, make an important contribution to education in general and, in particular, to education for democratic citizenship by allowing young people to:

i. learn about their historical heritage as well as that of other peoples and nations;
ii. acquire and practise such key skills as the ability to think for themselves, the ability to handle and analyse critically different forms of information, and the ability not to be swayed by biased information and irrational arguments;
iii. develop such basic attitudes as intellectual honesty and rigour, independent judgement, open-mindedness, curiosity, civil courage, and tolerance.

11. EMPHASISE that history teaching in schools should respect the historian's quest for truth and should not be misused to promote feelings of national, regional or ethnic antagonism. Furthermore, the Ministers CONDEMN, in the strongest terms, attempts by negationist writers and extremist organisations to minimise or deny the Holocaust;

12. POINT OUT that the changes in Central and Eastern Europe offer an opportunity to give a fully European dimension to history curricula for schools and RECOMMEND that education authorities should review their curricula to ensure that they reflect the richness and diversity of the history of Europe. The Council of Europe should lend its support to these efforts by organising meetings between historians, curriculum developers, school textbook authors and representatives of history teachers and publishers, in order to facilitate the development of curricula and textbooks with a European dimension. Moreover, the Ministers REJECT categorically the idea of trying to impose a uniform or standardised version of European history on schools in member States;

13. RECOGNISE that the learning of history is not limited to schools and that it should be a source of lifelong pleasure and personal enrichment. Wherever possible, schools should make full use of the opportunities offered by museums, archives, school links and exchanges with a historical dimension, and the New Communications Technologies, in particular multi-media resources and the Internet. These new media can help to bring history alive, stimulate the learner's motivation and imagination, and impart a lifelong enthusiasm for history;

14. WELCOME the relevance and high quality of the publications as well as the conclusions, as they appear in the reference document for the present Session;

15. RECALL the priority which they attach to the Project "Learning and Teaching about the History of Europe in the 20th Century in Secondary Schools" as it appears in the Education Committee's medium-term programme;

c. With regard to the Project "Language Learning for European Citizenship"

16. RECALL that this Project has made a vital contribution to the promotion of both mutual understanding and cultural and linguistic diversity in Europe;

17. STRESS the benefit of the activities which have been undertaken in helping member States to renew their curricula in specific priority areas and note the relevance of the publications giving examples of good practice in these areas for the dissemination of the results of the Project;

18. WELCOME the valuable orientation found in the conclusions and recommendation of the Project, which form a comprehensive basis for international co-operation in the learning and teaching of modern languages;

19. RECOMMEND that, in future phases of this work, the Education Committee should concentrate on:

– assisting the member States in the development and implementation of effective language policies in order to promote plurilingualism and mutual understanding between Europeans through a variety of means, including, for example, the recognition of partial competences in a number of languages and the validation of modular courses;
– the development of pilot applications for:
– the Common European Framework of Reference for language learning, teaching and assessment. The Framework constitutes a valuable planning tool for national co-ordination and international co-operation in planning and certifying language courses and it provides a solid basis for the mutual recognition of language qualifications;
– the European Language Portfolio – a document in which the learner can note his/her most significant intercultural experiences and achievements in language learning (both formal and informal) in relation to internationally recognised levels, as described in the Common European Framework, thus facilitating educational and professional mobility;
– continuing to develop "Threshold Level" – type planning instruments, which provide functional descriptions of communicative learning objectives. These descriptions of what learners should be able to do in everyday communication provide a basis both for the reform of methods of learning major languages and for the consolidation and reinforcement of less widely-used national or regional languages;

20. RECOMMEND that this work is carried out in co-operation with the European Centre for Modern Languages in Graz, and the European Union in the framework of its relevant programmes;

21. RECOMMEND that 2001 should be the "European Year of Languages" and that it should be marked by events such as local, regional, and national festivals of European languages and by the promotion of the Common European Framework of Reference and the European Language Portfolio;

d. With regard to the Project "Access to Higher Education in Europe"

22. HAVE TAKEN NOTE with great interest of the conclusions of the Project "Access to Higher Education in Europe", undertaken by the Higher Education and Research Committee and of the need to:

– ensure a smooth progression from secondary education to higher education, including vocational education:
– seek convergence between reforms undertaken in these two levels of the education system;
– continue the diversification of higher education with a view to ensuring equal access for young people and adults from vocational training;
– put in place guidance and counselling services.

Resolution on fundamental values, aims and the future role of educational co-operation in the Council of Europe (N° 2) 

The European Ministers of Education meeting in Kristiansand for their 19th Session:


– the Statute of the Council of Europe and the European Cultural Convention constitute the specific framework for their action in the area of education;

– the Declaration adopted by the Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe's member States (Vienna, October 1993) emphasised that cultural co-operation, of which the Council of Europe is a prime instrument, was essential for creating a cohesive yet diverse Europe;

– Resolution (95) 38 of the Committee of Ministers on the Council of Europe's cultural strategy had set the following priority goals for this area:

fostering democratic values and human rights;
building confidence and mutual respect between nations and communities;
promoting awareness of the cultural community of the New Europe enriched by its diversity;

– Recommendation 1303 (1996) of the Parliamentary Assembly on the proposal for a Second Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe emphasises that the Council of Europe faces great challenges today which require fresh thinking on resources and long-term goals for the role it should play in promoting a model of society for Europe in the 21st Century;

– the Final Communiqué of the 100th Session of the Committee of Ministers (May 1997) indicates that the Second Summit of the Council of Europe should, in particular:

proclaim the commitment of European States and citizens to the fundamental aims of the Council of Europe (respect for, and development of, human rights, pluralist democracy and the rule of law);
seek common responses to the major challenges facing European societies;
promote shared political, social and cultural values in Europe as a whole;

1. NOTE that education in the member States of the Council for Cultural Co–operation is today faced with the following challenges:

– the acceleration and unpredictability of economic and technological changes which bring about the following:

i. a labour market in which security of employment can no longer be guaranteed and which, in addition to basic training, calls for ongoing, lifelong training;
ii. the undermining of social cohesion and the marginalisation of certain social groups due to unemployment and the weakening of traditional structures, and moral and ethical values;
iii. an increasing awareness of the need to protect the environment and the principles of sustainable development;
iv. a profound cultural transformation brought about by the development of New Information Technologies;

– the increasingly multicultural nature of Europe and European societies and the cultural diversity and the danger of becoming inward-looking, of racism, xenophobia, intolerance, Anti-Semitism and ultra-nationalism;

– the danger of an increase in distrust, and even apathy, particularly amongst the young, with regard to political life and democratic processes;

2. EXPRESS their conviction that educational co-operation in Europe can play a determining role in meeting the challenges of respecting common basic values and, in particular, by:

– reaffirming the value of cultural diversity as an accepted source of common richness;
– teaching ethical values based on respect for the rights of others, tolerance and solidarity, the fight against racism and Anti-Semitism;
- education for democratic citizenship, not only in the curricula but also through participation in the procedures of everyday school life;
– promoting a European dimension respecting national identities and minorities and open to the outside world;

3. REAFFIRM that the Council of Europe plays a specific role in educational co-operation through its role as an intergovernmental pan-European forum, by means of:

– its fundamental values and objectives: human rights, the rule of law, pluralist democracy;
– the emphasis in its work on the importance of the individual, the rejection of exclusion and marginalisation, the promotion of mutual knowledge and trust and the respect of differences;
– its experience and the methods of co-operation which it has developed in education;

4. CONSIDER that the Council of Europe should pursue and develop its work in education in order to:

– facilitate a pan-European dialogue on trends, common issues and common problems in the member States, and particularly in the new member States;
– provide information on education systems and policies and on current reforms;
– carry out the aims set for the activities planned in its medium-term programme concerning language learning and teaching, history teaching, education for democratic citizenship and the European dimension;
– implement practical activities aimed at ensuring that current thinking and experience is pooled with regard to priority aims and undertake common action in the appropriate areas;

5. RECOMMEND that:

– the Committee of Ministers should ensure – in terms of programmes and budgetary and human resources within the Council of Europe – the essential role played by educational co-operation in achieving the Organisation's general objectives and in promoting its fundamental principles and values;

– the member States should:

i. take into account the conclusions and the guidelines from the work undertaken by the Council of Europe in the preparation and implementation of the reforms;
ii. ensure the dissemination of results and their follow-up at local, regional and national levels, in particular by means of national or regional seminars and by the translation of important publications;
iii. contribute actively to the implementation of the Projects and activities already mentioned;
iv. consider the possibility of joining the 23 States which are already members of the Enlarged Partial Agreement establishing the European Centre for Modern Languages in Graz;
v. accede to the Joint Council of Europe/UNESCO Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications Concerning Higher Education in the European Region;
vi. promote the installation of Internet facilities in all secondary schools.

– the Council for Cultural Co-operation and the Education Committee should:

With regard to the priority aims of its medium-term and long-term action in education:

– concentrate its work on the realisation of the following objectives:

i. the promotion of active, responsible and democratic citizenship;
ii. the fostering of mutual understanding, European cultural diversity and mutual respect within multicultural societies;
iii. the development of the debate on educational policies as a factor of social cohesion and democratic security;

With regard to future projects and activities:

– maintain, by means of a balanced distribution of the resources, the coherence of its education programme;
– implement, in accordance with the medium-term programme, the following Projects and activities:

i. "Modern Languages and Language Policies"

The aims are to:

– assist member States in the development of plurilingualism;
– promote improved information and co-ordination of language policies through the introduction of a common instrument of reference;
– facilitate training and mobility of language teachers;
– intensify support for the development of language policies in member States;

ii. "Education for Democratic Citizenship"

The aims are to:

– explore and develop definitions of citizenship which must take into account the different situations in Europe and identify the skills necessary for practising such citizenship;
– understand and analyse the kinds of educational experience which children, young people and adults require in order to learn these skills;
– provide assistance to teachers and to other members of the teaching community (educators, parents, employers, citizens) in order to develop their skills and enable the objectives in this area to be attained;
– develop a set of guidelines describing the basic skills required for effective citizenship;
– co-operate with non-governmental organisations and professional networks such as CIVITAS;
– support the inclusion of students' rights in school legislation and in democratic decision-making procedures in schools;
– protect students rights and encourage students to practise them;

iii. "Learning and Teaching about the History of Europe in the 20th Century"

The aims are to:

– interest secondary school students in the recent history of our continent, helping them to understand the forces, movements, events and individuals that have shaped Europe in the 20th Century;
– provide curriculum developers, authors of textbook and multi-media resources, history teachers and their trainers, with practical advice and examples of good practice and innovatory approaches;
– deal, at the same time, with positive mutual influences and sensitive and controversial issues;
– pay particular attention to links and balances between local, regional, national, European and world history in the school curricula;

iv. "Democratic Security, Social Cohesion and Educational Policies"

The aim is to allow the Education Committee to help resolve current problems in a rapid, flexible manner, and, in particular, to:

– identify the major problems and challenges which education systems face in the context of the New Europe;
– identify the trends, approaches and options in education policy which are at present implemented in member States eg. decentralisation, teacher training, the link between general and vocational education;
– promote, on a pan-European level, a dialogue between all the partners involved (decision-makers, educational staff, parents, non-governmental organisations, etc.) in the exchange of information and the dissemination of new ideas and examples of good practice in this area;

v. "The In-service Training Programme for Teachers"

The aims are to:

– raise teachers' awareness of the Council of Europe's main Projects and its activities in education, and offer them appropriate training;
– promote the European dimension in teacher training and develop a spirit of international co-operation;
– provide for a direct and practical input by teachers to the CDCC's Projects;

vi. "The Network for School Links and Exchanges"

The aims are to:

– encourage, at a pan-European level, the exchange of information and experience between those who are responsible for school links at national level and local and regional authority levels;
– promote international projects and partnerships and co-operation between schools in Europe, allowing students to acquire the skills and attitudes necessary for a successful life in a multicultural society;
– train teacher trainers, school inspectors and headteachers for school links and exchanges, in particular in Central and Eastern Europe;
– develop and publish pedagogical materials and training modules;

vii. "Europe at School"

The aims are to:

– develop a European awareness among young people and interest them in issues relating to European co-operation and unification;
– encourage the participation of all the States Party to the European Cultural Convention;
– develop, during the implementation of the medium-term programme, flexible and practical methods of co-operation adapted to the new European context involving all the member States, and responding to the diversity of their needs;
– ensure that the results of the work are disseminated to all those concerned by means, for instance, of:
. the development of the CDCC Internet site and of new multi-media resources;
. the continued publication of the quarterly bulletin which covers all the activities of the Council of Europe in education;
. setting-up a network of depository libraries specialising in education, which would receive free copies of the Education Committee's publications, catalogue them and make them available to the public;
. close co-operation with international non-governmental organisations, the Information and Documentation Centres on the Council of Europe in Central and Eastern Europe, publishers, the specialised press for education, radio and television;
. pursuing the fruitful co-operation which already exists with local and regional authorities in Europe;
. further develop co-operation or partnerships with the European Union, OECD, the OSCE, UNESCO, the World Bank and the Nordic Council of Ministers and other regional groupings;
. developing working relationships with international non-governmental organisations;

With regard to the future programme of the Education Committee:

– start considering, as of now, the priority actions to be undertaken within the framework of the future programme of the Education Committee, taking into account:
- the conclusions of the present Session of the Standing Conference regarding the fundamental values, priorities and medium-term and long-term objectives for pan-European co-operation in education;
– the conclusions of the Second Summit of Heads of State and Government which will take place in Strasbourg on 10-11 October 1997;
– the specific role of the Council of Europe in educational co-operation as defined above;

With regard to the present specific activities or those to be undertaken:

i. strongly support the continuation of the "In-Service training of teachers on Human Rights Education and Citizenship Education" programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina;
ii. look at ways in which assistance can be given to Albania as soon as the political conditions allow, together with the other relevant sectors of the Council of Europe, the other European institutions and non-governmental organisations. The effort could concentrate on activities which aim at strengthening civil society, the training of educational staff and parents’ participation in school life;
iii. continue the Secretary General's New Initiative on history teaching and civic education;
iv. continue assistance or advice in response to the needs of the new member States within the framework of Demosthenes (in particular for Eastern Slavonia) and Demosthenes-bis;
v. develop a co-operation programme with "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia";

As regards the work of the Standing Conference of European Ministers of Education:

The Ministers

i. warmly thank the Norwegian Authorities for the impeccable organisation of this Session, which allowed informal contacts and discussions, and the involvement of young people from the local community;
ii. underline their attachment to the organisation of regular sessions of their Standing Conference which has proved to be an indispensable instrument for dialogue and European cooperation;
iii. accept with pleasure the invitation of the Polish Minister of National Education to organise the 20th Session of the Standing Conference in Poland in the Year 2000;
iv. ask the Education Committee of the Council of Europe to prepare the 20th Session of the Standing Conference taking into account the positive experience of the present Session.

Message from the 19th Session of the Standing Conference of the European Ministers of Education to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe  

1. The European Ministers of Education, meeting at the 19th Session of their Standing Conference (Kristiansand, Norway, 22-24 June 1997) reaffirm in the strongest terms the essential role of education in:

– enabling all individuals to realise their potential to the full throughout their lives and to meet rapid social and technological change, new patterns of employment and the challenges of the Knowledge and Information Society with confidence, responsibility and imagination;
– helping young people and adults to become active and autonomous citizens committed to the basic values of the rule of law and human rights, and to the rejection of intolerance and violence;
– co-operating with other partners involved in solving other crucial societal problems;
– establishing greater understanding and confidence between the peoples of Europe and encouraging them to respect difference and live together in harmony, both within and between States;
– building a democratic, peaceful, tolerant, compassionate and dynamic Europe open to the world.

2. The Ministers express their high appreciation of the specific contribution by the Council of Europe to European co-operation on education. This contribution reflects:

– the pan-European nature of the Organisation;
– its long-standing commitment to human rights, fundamental freedoms and pluralistic democracy;
– its concern for the individual and its refusal of situations of exclusion and marginalisation;
– its respect for the European cultural heritage and the diversity of European culture;
– its wish to bring the peoples of Europe closer together and strengthen mutual understanding and confidence in our continent;
– the involvement, in the Council of Europe’s work on education, of national, regional and local policy-makers, practitioners and representatives of civil society.

3. The Ministers recommend that, in the medium and longer term, the Council of Europe should concentrate its education programme on:

– education policies which favour the balanced development of the individual and which promote democratic security, social cohesion, and the fight against exclusion;
– education for democratic citizenship, including experience of participation and democratic decision-making and the peaceful resolution of conflict;
– the European dimension of education, in particular modern languages, history teaching, school links and exchanges, the in-service training of teachers, the Europe at School Activity, and the recognition of higher education qualifications;
– education in multicultural and multilingual societies (intercultural education).

These priorities are fully reflected in the Medium Term Programme of the Education Committee. It should be implemented as planned and endowed with the necessary resources.

4. The Ministers recommend that the Council of Europe should continue to support the reform of education in its new partner countries in Central and Eastern Europe in sectors where the Organisation has acknowledged expertise eg. the democratisation of education policies, human rights education and education for democratic citizenship, history teaching, the learning of modern languages, policies and legislation concerning the education of national minorities, and legislation on higher education. In a spirit of solidarity, the Council of Europe should make a special effort to strengthen its existing co-operation programmes with member States or regions with urgent needs, in particular Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Eastern Slavonia in Croatia. Co-operation programmes should be prepared for "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" and for Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

5. The Council of Europe should reinforce its links and partnerships with:

– local and regional authorities;
– the European Union, UNESCO, the World Bank, the OSCE, the OECD, the Nordic Council of Ministers and other regional groupings;
– international non-governmental organisations, in particular associations of young people, parents and educators.

Such co-operation will enrich the work of all concerned, ensure the complementarity of the activities, make effective use of scarce resources, and avoid duplication of effort.

6. The Council of Europe’s work on education is in vain if its results are not known to, and used by, member States and their citizens. The dissemination of these results should, therefore, be a major priority both for member States and for the Council of Europe itself. It could take the form of national dissemination seminars, co-operation with commercial publishers, and closer contacts with the educational press, radio and television. Full use should be made of the unprecedented possibilities for dissemination offered by the New Information Technologies eg. the Internet and multi-media resources.

7. The European Ministers of Education, therefore, urge the Committee of Ministers to take account of this Message in its preparatory work for the Second Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe’s member States (Strasbourg, 10-11 October 1997).