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Ministers acknowledge the key role of languages and language education

19 May 2016

The importance of language education and the added value of the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML), were highlighted at the Council of Europe Conference of Ministers of Education, Brussels, 11-12 April 2016.

The focus of the conference was the Council of Europe flagship Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture. This new educational tool for teaching democracy and democratic values has been developed by the Council of Europe with input from over a thousand teachers and experts across the continent. It sets out a series of 20 key competences needed to play an active role in democratic society and explains how these can be defined and measured.  The 20 competences cover values, skills, attitudes as well as knowledge and critical understanding. With language and intercultural communication underpinning all four areas, it was no surprise that the Council of Europe’s pioneering work in this field was highlighted at this conference, with particular mention of the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) made by the Slovenian Minister of Education, Ms Maja Makovec. The (former) Austrian Minister of Education, Ms. Gabrielle Heinisch-Hosek, reminded fellow Ministers of the important work carried out by the ECML and encouraged those countries not already members of this Partial Agreement to join.


A few days later, Ms. Sarah Breslin, Executive Director of the ECML, had a meeting with the Slovenian Minister of Education, Ms Maja Makovec for whom language acts as an enabler: it enables us to accept difference and provides the medium for the transfer of understanding and intercultural dialogue. Ms. Breslin was in Ljubljana to present the work of the ECML at a conference organised by the Slovenian National Education Institute. The conference was opened by Ms Maja Makovec and was entitled “Languages are linking us” and focused on the role of languages across the curriculum. (Conference website in Slovene)

Photo credit: Ministry of Education of Slovenia

The following week, the Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Dr. Augusto Santos Silva, opened the EAQUALS International Conference in Lisbon, Portugal. He too stressed the key role of languages in intercultural dialogue and the importance of quality language education.  At this conference, which celebrated 25 years since the creation of EAQUALS, Ms Breslin presented the ECML to an audience of over 200 language professionals.  She took the opportunity to thank EAQUALS for its commitment to quality language education and for its invaluable contribution to the work of the Council of Europe both in Strasbourg and at the ECML in Graz.

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