In the European Pillar of Social Rights, the European Commission has listed the right to education, training and lifelong learning as the first pillar of Chapter I on Equal opportunities and access to labour market, clearly underlining the importance of education.
“The engagement of ESU and other youth organisations in the process has clearly helped the prioritisation of crucial factors for students and young people in the field of education.” says Lea Meister, President of ESU.
With the support of its member unions, ESU has been actively involved in the public consultations about the Pillar. The union communicated students’ demands to be addressed in the Pillar and will be working further to make sure that the rights to education, training and lifelong learning that are already mentioned in the today’s launched Pillar are also reflected in the specific initiatives the Commission will be adopting.
ESU’s demands are furthermore linked to other priorities of the Pillar, such as gender equality. They are centred around five priorities:
- The EU should encourage all member states to prioritize investments in public Education and the abolishment of tuition fees, ensuring fair and free access to Education, including Higher Education, for all.
- The EU should facilitate access to education for all students, no matter what their disabilities or illnesses, or discomforts are.
- The EU should ensure the inclusion of girls from the earliest stages of education to the highest possible levels, emphasizing the benefits of a society that equally represents all genders.
- The EU should ensure and protect fair access to health care, housing, childcare and other basic services for all students;
- The EU should include work based learning in the scope of the conditions for a fair, safe and healthy workplace.
The establishment of the European Pillar of Social Rights is an important step towards social cohesion and a further advancement in social protection and access to rights, including education. As the Commission explains in today’s press release, the Pillar will be based on powers lined out in existing EU treaties, and further legislation on certain areas will be necessary both on the EU and member countries’ level to comply with the subsidiarity principle.