Council of Europe’s vision for a quality education

Millions of children are still denied their right to education. Restricted access to education is one of the surest ways of transmitting poverty from generation to generation. Everyone should have the right to a quality education in order to have more chances in life, such as employment opportunities, better health and participation in political life.

The Council of Europe’s vision of a quality education is one that is free from discrimination, providing a secure and non-violent learning environment, in which the rights of all are respected. It develops children’s and adult’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential and encourages them to complete their educational programmes. It promotes democracy, respect for human rights and social justice in a learning environment which recognises everyone’s learning and social needs. It enables pupils and students to develop appropriate competences, self-confidence and critical thinking to help them become responsible citizens and improve their employability. It passes on universal and local cultural values while equipping pupils and students with the faculties to make their own decisions. Certification of the acquired knowledge and competences is carried out transparently, on the basis of a fair assessment and enables further study, employment and other life opportunities.

A quality education relies on qualified teachers who are committed to continuous professional development and it is free from corruption.

Our activities on quality education

The Council of Europe’s numerous activities on education are organised to respond to this vision of quality education, which is very much in line with the aims of the targets for the Sustainable Development Goals, and more specifically the 7 targets and 3 means of implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 4.

The Council of Europe’s particular focus is on projects that contribute to building democratic and inclusive societies through the development of a culture of democracy, by promoting education for democratic citizenship and human rights education for all.

The Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (RFCDC), for example, offers member States and their educational institutions guidelines for competences for democratic culture and intercultural dialogue and is intended for all levels of education. Activities on language learning are a key component, since language is crucial for enabling access to education and, in addition, fosters social competences and competences for democratic citizenship, such as inclusivity and valuing diversity.

In recent years, the project on Digital Citizenship Education has been working to enable pupils and students to become competent digital citizens, able to participate actively and responsibly in democratic societies both online and offline. Through its co-operation and capacity-building programme, the Council of Europe offers tailored support to member States, individually or in groups, to identify and promote best practice across a range of education issues, allowing SDG4-related outcomes to be given more visible priority. Since 2018, for example, three specific programmes have targeted reducing poverty among vulnerable groups, such as Roma, supported by funding from EEA/Norway Grants.


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