Council of Europe Conference of the Finnish Presidency of the Committee of Ministers

Helsinki Congress Paasitorni

16-17 April 2019

Background and context

The Council of Europe’s Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (RFCDC) was developed by a multi-disciplinary expert group from 2013 to 2017 and published in April 2018.


The Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (RFCDC) was published in April 2018 and launched at the Council of Europe Conference of the Danish Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers “Democratic culture – from words to action”, which was held in Copenhagen 23-24 April. The Reference Framework comprises three volumes: volume 1 contains the model of Competences for Democratic Culture endorsed by the Ministers of Education in April 2016, which sets out the Values, Attitudes, Skills and Knowledge and critical understanding that all citizens need to participate actively in modern democratic societies; volume 2 contains the bank of descriptors designed to help educators to teach and assess the competences; and volume 3 offers guidance on how the model of competences may be used in developing curricula, pedagogical and teaching approaches, assessment and resilience to radicalisation. Ongoing development of the Reference Framework includes descriptors for younger learners, guidance on implementation of the competence model in the field of higher education, and a portfolio. The French version will be published in 2019 and translations into other languages are under way..


The Copenhagen conference also hosted the first meeting of the Education Policy Advisers’ Network (EPAN) established by the Steering Committee for Education Policy and Practice (CDPPE) to develop national and regional strategies for implementing the Council of Europe’s resources in the field of democratic citizenship and human rights education, in particular the Reference Framework and the Charter. The members of the Network, appointed by the education authorities of all the signatory states of the European Cultural Convention, are also active in promoting the campaign “Free to speak, safe to learn – Democratic schools for all”.


Relevance to the Presidency


The main goal of the Finnish Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe is to further strengthen the crucial work of the Council of Europe in advancing human rights, democracy and the rule of law. This core mandate of the Council of Europe is particularly important now that human rights are being challenged at both the European and global level.


The European system of human rights and the rule of law does not function in a vacuum. It needs the capacity/to be able to react to changes and new challenges arising in Europe and beyond. The enjoyment and the protection of human rights must be guaranteed also in the future. Here, education plays a central role. Promoting education on human rights and democratic values lies at the core of the Council of Europe. Therefore, the priorities of the Finnish Presidency Programme are fully in line with the priorities of the Council of Europe Education Programme.


A whole-school approach is advantageous when improving critical and creative thinking, participation, collaboration and social inclusion of young people as well as eliminating bullying, hate speech, discrimination and marginalization, all elements that also help preventing violent extremism.


The theme of the conference


The main theme of the conference will be “Encouraging Democratic Culture and Human Rights – Schools’ in Action”. The goal is to promote the dissemination of the Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (RFCDC) to be applied in member states in a system-wide manner, with a special focus on 1) curriculum development, 2) teacher’s profession, including initial and in-service education, and 3) assessment practices.


The conference will take stock of effective practices in Finland and other member states and identify areas and challenges that require further attention in the future.


Format of the Conference

Several plenary sessions, keynote presentations and EPAN working group sessions will offer opportunities for participants to discuss and share knowledge and examples of good practice.


Conference budget

The Conference is being co-organised by the co-organised by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, Finnish National Agency for Education and the Council of Europe’s Education Department under the Finnish Presidency of the Committee of Ministers. The Council of Europe will cover transport and accommodation costs for the appointed members of the Education Policy Advisers Network and invited experts as well as provide interpretation between the Council of Europe’s official languages (English and French). The Finnish hosts will provide meals during the conference and organise a cultural programme for participants at the end of the first day.


23 Nov 2020 25 Nov 2020


Education Department

Council of Europe
Agora Building
1, Quai Jacoutot
67075 Strasbourg Cedex

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