Standing Conference of European Ministers of Education
11th Session - The Hague, Netherlands, 10-13 June 1979

Statement on education and equality of opportunity for girls and women

Resolution on European educational co-operation (N1)

Resolution on Society and the Study of Science, Mathematics and Technology (N2)

Resolution on migrant's education (N3)

Statement on education and equality of opportunity for girls and women  

(adopted during the Eleventh Session of the Standing Conference of  Ministers of Education of the Council of Europe, The Hague, 10-13 June 1979)

The European Ministers of Education, at the Eleventh Session of the Standing Conference, adopt the following Statement

Discussion at the Eleventh Session of the Standing Conference has shown that a high degree of formal equality exists for girls and women in education. At the same time the discussion has also revealed awareness of the fact that formal equality in education has not been sufficient to achieve factual equality of opportunity for girls and women either in the educational system or in the life for which it is a preparation.

This situation calls for a new overall policy designed to ensure that in all areas of life equality between the sexes becomes a reality. Within such a coherent approach education - in all forms, institutionalised and otherwise will complement attempts elsewhere - e.g. in the fields of social and employment policy and of legal status - to create more equal living conditions between men and women in society.

In order to promote real equality of opportunity, education policy should aim not only to provide equal access in formal terms, for boys and girls, or men and women, to all stages and sectors of the education system, but also, without doubt, to achieve practical equality of access to equally valuable educational provision, reflected in terms of participation and results.

Any movement to break away from traditional sex stereotypes in schools and in employment affects both sexes. Because sex is becoming, and should become, less relevant in the distribution of functions in adult life, the educational choices offered to boys and to girls should be the same. Education systems should not only offer whatever optional subjects may contribute to each pupil's full educational development, but also prepare all pupils for the sharing of domestic and parental responsibilities, and equip girls, as well as boys, to earn an independent living, to cope with the technical elements of practical life and to participate in democratic decision-making and public life.

The traditional allocation of functions within the family, the distribution of working time during the day and the arrangement of working periods throughout life must be reconsidered in order to achieve equality of opportunity while making possible the functioning of the family. This calls for the development of new attitudes towards the sharing of educational and domestic responsibilities and high policy priority to be given to social and educational services designed to support the family and especially women working outside the home. In the present situation, the female half of the population is under-represented in many vital sectors of education (notably science and technology) and in the more attractive and generally higher paid jobs. Future European society cannot afford to leave a large part of its potential not fully realised. Measures of various types therefore need to be implemented :

1. An overall policy for ensuring equality of opportunity for all persons in society must begin with active endeavours to promote new attitudes across the whole range of activity in society - in the family, in the school, in the place of work - and to encourage the development of new cultural patterns. In terms of education, this may involve policy innovation in various forms, ranging from research through educational programmes and courses with the object of increasing awareness of the problem, to policies of experimentation and stimulation and to national legislation and the establishment of specialised national bodies. A crucial question for examination is the extent to which temporary positive discrimination measures are acceptable in different national situations.

2. Research should be encouraged, firstly into actual participation levels and achievement levels of girls and women in relation to those of boys and men, and secondly into factors acting as barriers to equal participation and achievement in national education systems. Areas for detailed enquiry need to be allocated degrees of priority, but subjects which urgently deserve attention include : the nature and extent of sex-role stereotyping in school teaching materials, in school timetabling, in educational and careers guidance ; the suitability of different teaching methods for each sex ; the effects of co-education as opposed to single-sex education ; regional and social class variations in comparative achievement levels. Those girls who suffer from compound disadvantages (i.e. those arising from their sex compounded with those which may be suffered by either sex in terms of ability, social background or geographical area) should be a Priority research area. In view of the current acute concern about unemployment and the future shape of the labour market a particular focus for useful research might be the construction of models of the labour market in a situation where women were better qualified and more readily accepted in certain jobs.

The results of research should set out scientifically established data which will provide a sound basis for analysis of national and international practice and the development of appropriate new teaching methods and other measures. A first step, to which the Ministers of the Standing Conference subscribe, would be to ensure the division of relevant national educational statistics by sex to allow for thorough analysis of the current position of women.

3. Initial and in-service training courses for teachers and for persons responsible for educational and vocational guidance should :

make them aware of prevalent stereotypes and enable them to counteract those stereotypes ;

encourage them to adopt an open-minded attitude towards their pupils resulting in teaching designed to develop independence, self-training and self-determination by means of education for freedom and for critical judgement, taking account of the social dimension of human beings.

Teachers should be properly informed of the relationships between educational choices and labour-market options.

Research should be conducted into the distribution by sex of levels of teaching staff, and its causes and implications.

Special attention should be paid to the sex education of both boys and girls.

4. Measures should be taken in support of those women, or men, who wish to make non-traditional choices as regards subjects, courses or educational institutions. Possible means of support would include : information and guidance and the introduction (as national situations permit) of special mechanisms and incentives for entry, e.g. of women to traditionally maledominated technical institutions or to courses leading to professional qualifications (and vice-versa) ; compensatory programmes for girls and women, e.g. in technical subjects, mathematics, politics and civics for adults ; action to encourage employers to accept candidates of either sex regardless of tradition. Positive discrimination, where national situations permit, might help in the short term to overcome the minority position of women in many areas of activity, including public administration, employment policy within education, and those fields where women are conspicuously under-represented.

Special attention should also be paid to the needs of certain groups liable to suffer compound disadvantages - e.g. migrant women, women seeking their first employment or women who have stopped working for some time and want to take up employment again.

5. The development of educational equality between the sexes should be monitored by national or governmental bodies, whose role could include advising on policy and legislation, collecting and dispensing information, monitoring attitudes purveyed in publicity material for educational opportunities, scrutinising teaching materials and investigating cases of discrimination.

6. The Standing Conference recommends that the international organisations and the European Community be guided in their programmes, each according to its own nature and aims, by the concerns expressed in this Statement, and that each should accord importance to the compilation and dissemination of information on interesting developments towards achievement of equality of the sexes in education and that this issue should be made an integral part of other themes in their programmes.

7. The Standing Conference instructs the Committee of Senior Officials to investigate and propose forms of national and international follow-up action to the present Statement and to bear the subject in mind as a permanent dimension of future themes to be examined by the Conference.

Resolution on European educational co-operation (N1)  

(adopted during the Eleventh Session of the Standing Conference of  Ministers of Education of the Council of Europe, The Hague, 10-13 June 1979)

The European Ministers of Education at the Eleventh. Session of the Standing Conference :

1.  EXPRESS their warmest gratitude to the Netherlands for their generous hospitality during the Eleventh Session

2. RECOGNISE the important role which the Standing Conference has played in the twenty years which have passed since the first meeting of the European Ministers of Education in The Hague in 1959 :

i. in stimulating the exchange of information, ideas and experience at the European level;

ii. in stimulating the work of the international organisations;

3. THANK :

i. UNESCO, OECD, the Council of Europe, the European Community and the Nordic Council of Ministers (x) for their contributions to the report on "European educational cooperation";

ii. Mr. Banks for his thoughtful introduction to this report

4. EMPHASISE the high informative value of this report and welcome the thematic approach adopted for the presentation of the activities of the Organisations. Such an approach clarifies the relationship between the programmes of the Organisations and makes it easier for national policymakers to perceive what the Organisations are doing in the same or similar fields. The Ministers RECOMMEND that :

i. Governments and the Organisations should disseminate this report widely among policy-makers and educators;

ii. a thematic approach should be adopted in the preparation of the report on "European educational cooperation" to be submitted to the Twelfth Session of the Standing Conference. The Senior Officials should consider how this report could be presented in a form which would make it useful to an even wider public;

5. REAFFIRM the conviction expressed at their Tenth Session that the specific nature of each Organisation leads to a welcome diversity of approaches, working methods and results. Nevertheless the Ministers note that there is a tendency for the programmes of the Organisations to concentrate on a small number of priority themes like pre-school education, the transition from school to working life, modern languages, and permanent education. To ensure that the resources available for European educational co-operation are used effectively and that this concentration does not lead to duplication of effort, the Ministers urge Governments to ensure that the governing bodies of the Organisations adopt programmes which correspond to the distinctive goals, character and strengths of each Organisation;

6 .RECOMMEND that, before starting a new activity, each Organisation should check what is being done in the same field by other Organizations. Furthermore, whenever Organizations are active in the same sector, they should :

i.       aim to complement and reinforce each other's projects and ensure that the results of each programme are made available to as wide an audience as possible. For example, in their news letters and other publications, the Organisations should refer to the studies and work of the other Organisations;

ii. hold regular inter-Secretariat liaison meetings of the officials concerned with the projects;

iii. take every opportunity to send observers to each other's meetings;

iv. look for a means of cooperation with European non-governmental organisations ;

7. RECOMMEND, in the light of the discussions on the main theme of the Eleventh Session, that as far as possible there should be a more equitable distribution of women and men in the composition of delegations and working parties within the Organisations

8. ACCEPT with Pleasure the invitation of the Portuguese Minister to hold the Twelfth Session in his country. This Session will deal with pre-school education and the first years of primary education. The Ministers ask the Committee of Senior Officials to define the theme of this Session precisely. The Senior Officials should also continue to seek ways of developing the practical arrangements for the Ministers' debates with a view to increasing the dialogue between Ministers.

(x) hereafter referred to as "the Organisations"

Resolution on Society and the Study of Science, Mathematics and Technology (N2)  

(adopted during the Eleventh Session of the Standing Conference of  Ministers of Education of the Council of Europe, The Hague, 10-13 June 1979)

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

HAVING CONSIDERED the report by Ms. Anne-Marie Furumark on the ad hoc Conference on "Society and the Study of Science, Mathematics and Technology",

RECORD their warm thanks to the participants at the ad hoc Conference,

EXPRESS the wish that the competent ministries study carefully the findings of the ad hoc Conference and supporting documentation including particularly the Issues Paper prepared by Professor Denis Kallen,

RECOMMEND that the international organisations and the European Community take account of the findings of the Ad hoc Conference in planning a-Lid implementing their education programmes.

Resolution on migrant's education (N3)  

(adopted during the Eleventh Session of the Standing Conference of  Ministers of Education of the Council of Europe, The Hague, 10-13 June 1979)

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

TAKE NOTE of the report by Mr. Menendez-Pidal on the effects of Resolution No. 2 adopted in Stockholm and Resolution No. 1 adopted in Strasbourg on the education of migrants and particularly of their children,

THANK UNESCO, OECD, the Council of Europe and the Commission of the European Communities for their contributions to this report,

REAFFIRM the principles set out in the above-mentioned Resolutions,

CONSIDER that the problems of migrants' education must continue to be given the highest priority, not only by member States but also by the international organisations and the European Community, which can help to encourage and guide national efforts,

RECOGNISE the fruitful interaction between the cultures of immigrants and the culture of the host country as well as the importance of the development of immigrants' culture,

AGREE, as representatives of host countries as well as of countries of origin, to intensify their efforts in the following areas:

a. the responsibilities and operation of the bilateral joint committees in charge of migrants' education;

b. the integration of migrant families in their new social and cultural environment;

c. the specific problems relating to the education of migrant women;

d. vocational training for adult migrants and their children including apprenticeship training;

e. measures to ensure provision for migrant children's education from preschool to Higher education;

f. measures to be adopted in the event of return of migrants' children to the country of origin;

DRAW ATTENTION to the cultural enrichment that migrants bring to the society of the host country and request national authorities in cooperation with the international organisations and the European Community to study how this enrichment can be used to the full within the education system,

CALL ON international organisations, and in particular the Council of Europe and the European Community, to promote action programmes where appropriate in the areas indicated above,

INSTRUCT the Committee of Senior Officials to submit a report to the Thirteenth Session of the Standing Conference evaluating the action taken on the above recommendations by governments and international organisations.