On September 30th, the European Commission unveiled its plans for three long-awaited strategic proposals: on the Digital Education Action Plan (2021-2027), the European Research Area, and the European Education Area (to be achieved by 2025). The press conference was led by the interventions of Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, Vice-President Margaritis Schinas and Commissioner Mariya Gabriel. These three strategies will shape the future of education in Europe for the years to come. At the end of the day, it’s education stakeholders and practitioners that will implement the measures promoted by the Commission.
The International Yehudi Menuhin took part in the public consultation based on the contributions from the MUS-E organizations in Europe and their experiences on the field during the pandemic and confinement. We underlined the fact that digital tools remain tools and it is education which needs investment. In every country where MUS-E is active, it has been highlighted by our coordinators. In addition, we would like to focus that if digitalization is a necessity, we have to make sure that social gaps are not widened and that it does not show more inequalities. MUS-E is working particularly with children from disadvantaged backgrounds and this is a big challenge. Our priority and main mission remains inclusion and we have to make sure that promises of inclusion are kept in this new digital Europe and leave no one behind.
The second point is linked to this final one: there is almost no mention to art and creativity in the 3 strategies communicated by the Commission. And yet, if art also influences social aspects of students’ lives, it has a broader scope in education. It extends beyond the boundaries of academic learning and into community-based values. Art should be considered an integral part of the education system because of its long history in human culture and for its many benefits in building resilient and inclusive societies. The issue of art’s value becomes far more pressing when policymakers and administrators decide how to allocate time and funding for art education in schools.
Teachers and artists working in schools must be ready to advocate for committing the necessary resources to prioritize the value of creativity in the classroom. Digitalization cannot replace everything. We would like to express our concerns for art education while we strongly believe that digitalization and the arts can be complementary, support each other. While new technologies have been largely absent in arts education curriculum, they offer opportunities to address arts integration, equity, and the technological prerequisites of an increasingly digital age. IYMF is going to leverage its strengths and propose new project going in this direction without loosing the spirit and essence of our artistic programmes but we would like to address EU policy makers on the need to include creativity in education and in our societies in general.