Common effort in education is needed in order to prepare future generations for challenges that lie ahead, the participants of the 8th Ministerial Conference within the Western Balkans Platform on Education and Training concluded.
The event, which brings together ministers of education from the region, was inaugurated by European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Tibor Navracsics. Today’s education is the foundation for the society of tomorrow, he said.
“It takes time to achieve results in the education reform. It takes patience, resolve and political will. We need these features more than ever, because education should be part of the solution for major challenges faced by our economies and societies,” the European Commissioner said.
He added that no country can tackle those challenges alone. The EU believes that a united Europe is better equipped to tackle them, while noting that cooperation has to go beyond economy. There is a political will to increase funding for Erasmus+, and thus open new possibilities for the Western Balkans, the commissioner noted. Also, he stressed that preschool education, the topic of the meeting in Belgrade, is of particular importance.
“Good preschool education and care lay foundations for children’s development and success later on in their lives. By starting early, they can develop communication competences, creativity and become more self-confident. This is essential in order to have faith in young people and trust them to be able to tackle the challenges of the future,” Navracsics stated.
Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development Mladen Sarcevic greeted everyone present and commended previous joint efforts. Also, the regional cooperation in this area is a step toward improving our mutual relations, he stressed.
“We will continue to work systematically. We are currently putting in a great deal of effort into 2030 education strategy with the support from European funds. Although it is clear that education is an area we are working to improve for our own sake and the future of our society, we are aware that certain aspects of the reform in that area have impact on our EU accession process,” Minister Sarcevic pointed out, adding that the Annual Report on Serbia showed progress in the area of education.
The Platform for the Western Balkans on Education and Training was launched in 2012 by a joint initiative of the European Commission and regional partners. The long-term goal of the activities is to establish a strategic dialogue in order to prepare the region for membership in the European Union, including full participation in the educational programs of the Union. Also, the platform discusses the individual experiences of participants and examples of good practice.
Annual meetings serve as an opportunity for education ministers in the region to discuss reform and current EU strategies in the area, identify priorities and agree on joint action. The meeting in Belgrade will deal with improving the recognition of academic qualifications, the topic expected to be included in the agenda of the leaders’ summit in Poznan in early July.