Within the framework of the joint European Union & Council of Europe Project – Inclusive Schools: Making a Difference for Roma Children (INSCHOOL), a Stocktaking Conference took place on the 28 June 2021 via a videoconference.
The participants discussed achievements of the project as well as possible future developments in the participating Member States in the field of quality inclusive education.
The Conference brought together project partners and educational stakeholders from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and the Slovak Republic, including policy makers, educational practitioners, as well as the Council of Europe and European Union representatives and experts.
In the opening speeches, the representatives of the Council of Europe and the European Commission (Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture) stressed that the relevant policy documents and structures at the level of both CoE and the EU are well in place, such as the Strategic Action Plan for Roma and Traveller Inclusion 2020-2025 or the EU flagship European Education Area, and that action is needed at all levels to ensure their implementation in practice. The representative of the EU stressed that the impact of INSCHOOL joint project will be of interest for mutual learning and will surely contribute towards the achievement of the European Education Area.
In the area of policy solutions and frameworks for quality and inclusive education, the representatives of national authorities of Czech Republic, Romania and the Slovak Republic presented the structural reforms undertaken to ensure the equality, respect for diversity and inclusive approaches in their respective educational systems, with the aim of desegregating the education structures and complying with the European standards and relevant judgements of the European Court of Human Rights. All speakers concluded that they hope for the continuation of the project, which would allow them to gather the lessons learned from the schools which implemented the project’s methodology and to apply them across the national educational systems.
School Principals from three countries presented the practical steps taken by their schools to implement the inclusive education concept based on the methodologies presented by the INSCHOOL project. These included initiatives such as out-of-classroom activities promoting diversity, ensuring closer communication and cooperation with parents of all pupils and with the pupils themselves, adjusting the schools’ space to pupils’ diverse needs, providing counselling to the teaching staff, as well as other important initiatives.
When it comes to the progress achieved and lessons learnt from the second cycle of implementation of the INSCHOOL project, the INSCHOOL Educational Advisors from the Czech Republic, Romania and the Slovak Republic stressed that the most important achievement was the creation of strong networks of support from the state authorities in all three countries. This support allowed the schools to take more confident steps and actions towards implementing inclusive education and also allowed to ensure a constant cooperation between Council of Europe, other international actors and state authorities to respond to the countries’ needs with targeted actions and interventions.
In the closing remarks, the representative of the European Commission highlighted that, in their assessment, the current phase of the INSCHOOL project achieved its result in successfully building and sharing the methodology for strengthening inclusive education practices in schools. They also expressed their wish that the next phase of the project would give the opportunity to introduce these solutions systematically across the educational systems in the beneficiary countries.
The Council of Europe would like to use this occasion to thank all the distinguished speakers for their excellent presentations and sharing their experiences during the INSCHOOL Stocktaking Conference 2021.
For more information and conference documents click here.