PRESS RELEASE, 24 November 2016

“I used to sit in the first line next to the desk of the teacher,” said Peter Plavčan, Minister of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic to young moderator Tadeas Kliman from organization called Edulienka (education and lady beetle) on today’s conference, where children ask adults and adults ask children and discuss how respectful schools should look like – schools where adults and children share mutual respect and create an environment that supports individual needs of each child. Minister shifted the debate on the upcoming reform, answered interesting questions and also asked the children why they choose to study at their school. In this relaxed atmosphere almost a hundred participants also discussed about the change of schools’ atmosphere, the rights of all children, in particular children with special needs in relation to their inclusion in ordinary education, and the opportunities linked to upcoming changes in education.

Schools with respect – conference with international participation organized by the Coalition for Children Slovakia and Children of Slovakia Foundation with partners – an international organization Eurochild and Orange Foundation under the auspices of the Embassy of Finland.

The objective of the conference was to introduce the National Programme for Education Development “Learning Slovakia” in the context of international trends and experiences with the current curriculum reform in Finland. Children and young people took an active part in the conference as well.

Jana Hainsworth, Secretary General of Eurochild, President of the Social Platform, Brussels, Belgium drew attention to the recommendations of the European Commission in relation to children’s rights in education in Slovakia within them she emphasised the importance of the involvement of Roma children in education from early childhood.

Marjaana Manninen, an advisor for education, Finnish National Board of Education of Finland, noted that children are our future. Schools should focus on learning, not on testing. Then she asked all participants to speak to their associates about their experiences in education just for 2 minutes. Very lively small discussions she closed with postscript: “And this is how Finnish schools look like – more talks, discussion and learning through experience”. She stressed that the key moment of the reform is to move the discussion about the shape of education to all citizens of Finland, regardless of age and education. Involvement of local government is crucial too. It is important that the kids feel at school comfortable and safe, their individual needs are respected as well as the curriculum is fulfilled so that children acquire the education and the skills for their future. The success of Finnish education reform is also thanks to high quality of teachers and curriculum.

“The Living Library” was a part of the conference to introduce the innovations and challenges to the current education system in Slovakia. “Children and young people are our important and respected partner. Only dialogue and cooperation of all stakeholders, children and young people included, can indeed bring results that will persist and will be further developed”, stressed Dana Rušinová, President of Coalition for Children Slovakia and the Executive Director of Children of Slovakia Foundation.

The Conference provided a platform for the exchange of expertise and proposals to the debate on a new vision of education in Slovakia. The outcomes of the conference will be submitted to the Ministry of Education to be incorporated in the reform process.

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