Education, Youth, Culture, and Sport Council
Letter from the Dais
Letter from the Dais
My name is Jason Hu, and I am very excited to be chairing the Swedish Cabinet and the Education Council at Yale Model Government Europe (YMGE). I am a senior at Yale, majoring in psychology on the neuroscience track; I am also an Education Studies Scholar. In addition to being a part of the Yale International Relations Association (the parent organization of YMGE), I am an active member of Yale’s student government, design graphics for student groups and campus publications, teach various subjects, and conduct psychology research.
Through the Yale International Relations Association (YIRA), I have been a part of conferences such as the Security Council Simulation at Yale (SCSY), the World Scholar’s Cup (WSC), Yale Model United Nations (YMUN), Yale Model United Nations China (YMUNC), and Yale Model United Nations Taiwan (YMUNT). With the experience that I gained from these conferences, the prior experience that I gained from competing in model United Nations conferences in high school, and a multidisciplinary approach to game theory and international relations, I look forward to creating a unique and educational conference experience.
Sweden is an incredibly interesting player on the international field, given its somewhat isolationist foreign policy and incredible rankings on several world indices. As such, Sweden occupies a unique position to influence the world on a truly global issues: climate change. Because of this, I am excited to see how you, the Swedish cabinet members, approach this complicated and hotly-contested issue. Moreover, I look forward to the nuance you will bring, as each cabinet member thinks about how climate change will affect various sectors. By taking a closer look at climate change, I hope you will be able to think more broadly and deeply about an issue that affects us all, and think about creative solutions as well as multidisciplinary ones. I cannot wait to see how you tackle a multifaceted problem to create innovative and unique solutions that address each of your respective departments. A further challenge to you is to ensure that your solutions are pragmatic, effective, and enforceable. While that may not be easy, I am confident the members of the Swedish Cabinet will be able to rise to the occasion. I look forward to working with you all.
The Education, Youth, Culture, and Sport Council or EYCS Council is made of the ministers from EU countries responsible for education, culture, youth, media, communication, and sport. It was founded when the Education and Youth Council merged with the Cultural and Audiovisual Council. Since EU countries have their own responsibilities in these areas, the Council serves to provide a framework for countries that help guide national policy and foster international cooperation.
The EYCS Council holds four formal meetings a year and is visited by a representative from the European Commission, such as the Commissioner for education, culture, multilingualism, and youth. Moreover, if the EU presidency wishes, it can also organize informal meetings.
While the Council focuses on adopting recommendations and incentives for those recommendations, it has been party to several initiatives that directly impact EU citizens. Moreover, in certain cases outlined in treaties, the Council has the ability to pass legislation. In the past, for example, the Council has past legislation on the mutual recognition of diplomas.
In the past, the council has worked on teaching languages, improving the knowledge of European history and culture across the EU, promoting student and teacher mobility, encouraging vocational training to help integrate citizens into the economy, and spurring Europe’s cultural and creative industries.
Currently, the Council is closely focused on monitoring the progress of the relevant portions of the Europe 2020 strategy and developing cultural innovation in Europe to establish Europe as a global center in the digital world. Its overarching goals are to preserve cultural heritage, support cultural and creative industries, encourage the mobility of students and teachers, and promote exercise and social inclusion through sports.
The Council Now
The EYCS Council has established several current priorities. In the realm of education, one of the central principles of current goals focuses on how EU nations can cooperate to provide high quality education. Under the current presidency, the focus is on strengthening European identity through education and culture. Just as there is a European Economic Area, the current presidency hopes to create a European Education Area.
The Council will also focus on their Erasmus+ program, one of the most successful EU programs. Its focus is on education, training, youth, and sport at the European level, thus impacting 9 million Europeans over the last 30 levels. Its current aims are to increase the mobility of students at teachers alike, given the large number of transnational educational partnerships. It also seeks to have a more international reach. Erasmus+ also hopes to impact economic growth, jobs, and social equity and inclusion through education and training. Through development with its partners in higher education, Erasmus+ hopes to reduce unemployment, promote adult learning (and renewing the skills in the current labor market), incentivize youth to partake in European democracies, encourage innovation and reform, reduce dropout rates, and promote even further cooperation and mobility within the EU.
As stated earlier, the Council also has focuses outside of education. Specifically, it is working towards a new EU youth strategy and is making plans to assess the forthcoming EU report, which is published by the European Commission. In terms of culture, the Council is also developing a new “work plan for culture” that will encourage and promote cultural transnational cooperation, and define what priorities lie ahead. The Council will also work on finalizing the Creative Europe programme that is focused on promoting cultural cooperation while preserving linguistic diversity and heritage, as well as increasing the allure of Europe’s cultural and creative sectors. And finally, in terms of sport, the Council will look at various economic factors of sport including innovation, physical activity and health, and volunteering.
Each country is uniquely positioned with respect to the topic areas for which the EYCS Council is concerned. Moreover, these positions are ever changing with updating policies and national guidelines. Still, the EYCS serves each EU member state. To fully, capture the nuance, each Minister must carefully convey their nation’s situation and goals within the Council. Local nuances will not be covered in this guide, but may be found through careful research (for example, see The State of Global Education in Europe published by the Global Education network Europe in 2017).
Some issues, however, affect the entire EU. In terms of politics, several factors have cross-cutting effects, including the influx of refugees, the rise of right-wing political groups, and radicalism within the union. Education is clearly impacted: rising numbers of refugees place increasing demands on schools (not just in terms of classroom sizes, but also in terms of language barriers and addressing trauma), rising right-wing groups come with euro-scepticism which threatens many of the EYCS Council’s goals for a more interconnected Europe, and radicalism has forced many governments to carefully consider safety (especially in contexts like schools).
European countries are also focused on meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the United Nations in 2015. One target of particular attention is target 4.7, which gives clear goals for what education should do:
“by 2030 ensure all learners acquire knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including among others through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship, and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.”
This goal requires tremendous government and society effort and knowledge about this goal (and other SDGs) has yet to reach the majority of the European public. Still, many EU member states are actively pursuing this target and others.
Generally, vast improvements have been seen in terms of quality education. Today, Europe is more fair, more inclusive, more resilient, and more innovative, and education has played a substantial role in doing so, giving children of various backgrounds great opportunities. However, data still shows that the EU has a long way to go.
With such complicated issues, the EYCS faces many present challenge, but it must also react to an ever changing world. How, therefore, does the EYCS Council respond to crises? Ostensibly, many crises will not directly affect educational policy, but youth will always be a critical aspect in how the EU address crises. The way in which any crises affects the EU’s youth must be considered in sustainable solutions. The EYCS, therefore, is responsible for ensuring that solutions to crises address the specific needs of the EU’s youth or that they do not negatively impact them. Moreover, in a broader sense, cultural considerations must be taken into consideration when making EU-wide solutions. Specifically, the Council should make sure decisions are culturally appropriate and promote decisions that make full use of Europe’s digital expanse.
Questions to Consider
- How do the issues facing Europe today impact children and adolescents in particular?
- What rights do/should children and adolescents in particular have?
- How can education be used to combat prejudice and misinformation?
- What role does education play in combating humanitarian, military, or economic disasters, both in the long term and the short term?
- Which methods of education are most effective? Which methods are less effective?
- What role should cultural education play in European curricula, especially in light of the flow of refugees into the continent and the rise of nationalism?
- Who can the council collaborate with to provide services to the youth?
- What role does education play in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals?
Suggestions for Further Research
- About the EYCS: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/council-eu/configurations/eycs/
- About the Erasmus+ Programme: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/policies/erasmus-plus-programme/
- European School Net: http://www.eun.org/
- UNICEF on Refugee Children: https://www.unicef.org/children-uprooted
- The Sustainable Development Goals: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/