World Teachers Day: celebrating the people who inspire our children

Published on Friday, 05 October 2012 10:03
Posted by Vicki Mitchem

They work tirelessly to develop the talents of generations of children but on 5 October they finally get their own chance to shine in the spotlight. World Teachers Day celebrates the dedication shown by the EU's six million teachers and other educators around the globe. However, the demands on them are ever increasing in a rapidly changing world.

We asked teachers visiting the European Parliament what the European Union could do to help.

The importance of education

Education is vital to overcoming the challenges arising from the economic crisis, according to Yanka Takeva, head of the Bulgarian teachers trade union, who was visiting the Parliament with a group of teachers. "Europe cannot cope with poverty, unemployment, xenophobia, if people do not acquire proper education," she said. "Teachers are entrusted with an important mission - to assist the personal development of our children so they have an important role to play in the development of society."

Ms Takeva called for the training of teachers and the financing of the education system to be made a priority.   "Europe can contribute by setting requirements in the field of education, for example by a minimum limit of budgetary spending on education of 6% of GDP and minimum wages for teachers. EU should also regulate on measures to support and improve the training of teachers."

Develop skills and knowledge

EU should give teachers the chance to experience how other education systems work, said Dan Svensson, who was visiting the Parliament with a group of teachers and students from a secondary school in south Sweden. He said it would be useful to be able to share ideas and best practices with colleagues from other EU countries through exchange programmes or online discussions.

"It would be valuable to gain insight in teaching and pedagogic approaches in other countries," Mr Svensson said. However, he thinks many teachers are afraid of going abroad because they worry about what would happen to their lessons while they are away on an exchange programme.

Maria Engman, from the same group of Swedish teachers, praised being able to visit the Parliament. The political science teacher said the visit gave a valuable "sense of reality" of what the EU is about. She said she wished all teachers and students would be able to go on study visits to the EU institutions, adding that the visit had helped her students to understand the EU better and were therefore more likely to vote in the 2014 elections for the European Parliament.

Existing EU education programmes

There are already various education programmes run by the EU. Comenius helps young people and educational staff to better understand the range of European cultures, languages and values. In addition there is the Erasmus programme to encourage higher education students to study in another member states for part of their degree.

Source: ©European Parliament

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