Dear Friends,

In Belgium it is customary to say Happy New Year anytime before 1 February, so I am using the fact that EPA is a Belgian organisation to wish you all the best, even in these troubling times we live in, for the year 2017. We have a busy and successful year behind us and an equally busy and hopefully successful year ahead.

This January was the time for the European Commission to reinforce their commitment to a socially just Europe, a high-level conference was held about the European Pillar of Social Rights, including the right to education, child care or a balance between your family and work. It is being set up to try to rebuild trust in Europe. The event happened just a few days after the European Parliament elected a populist as new President, and unfortunatelly the Social Pillar is only for the Euro Zone, clearly making a further step towards a two-speed Europe. Being parents of currently minor Europeans, being responsible for protecting and ensuring their rights, we have a lot to do to prevent them from becoming first class or second class European citizens depending on their nationality or country of residence.

In this first newsletter of the year I want to highlight a few important dates and also some interesting articles recently published on the EPA blog that you may find useful.

Eszter Salamon


Membership fee 2017

When deciding on the budget for 2017 the GA decided not to change membership fees, so the rates are the same as for 2016. As you know since last year you have the possibility to ask for a reduced fee in case of a low operating budget. To get this reduction this declaration must be filled in by the legal representative of your organisation by 15 February.

Save the dates

As announced at the Sevilla GA our two main events of the year 2017 will be our two GAs and international conferences
- the Spring on focusing on Early Childhood Parenting Issues and Reconciliation of Work and Family Life in Paphos, Cyprus on 22-24 April (this time the school visits will be on Monday) and
- the Autumn one focusing on Career Guidance and non-University Tertiary Education in Tallinn, Estonia on 24-25 November
Paphos is holding the title of European Cultural Capital in 2017 while Estonia will be the Presidency of the EU in the second half of the year, so we are following our tradition of visiting Cultural Capitals and Presidency countries.
We must hold an Extraordinary General Assembly on 20 March in Brussels for administrative reasons, some previous decisions need to be acknowledged by full members in the presence of a notary. We are trying to not cause you any extra travel costs on this.

Invite us, share with us

As always, I am inviting you to share news or hot topics that you are dealing with in your own countries. Send us a short, one paragraph newsflash in English that we can publish on the EPA blog to share your projects, success, good practices or concerns with other members.
For 2017 we allocated a somewhat larger budget for representation. Some of you have invited members of the Board to your national events and they seems to become more and more popular. One or two members of the Board are happy to join you if you invite us, sharing costs, EPA covering travel and you covering accommodation and subsistence. This may help you in national advocacy or showing your national members the importance of your EPA membership.
In both the Social Platform and the Lifelong Learning Platform (EPA being a member of both) we are working on supporting the national cooperation of social and education NGOs that share at least their being Europeans, belonging to a European family like EPA. Inviting a Board member or two may offer opportunities for this, too.


1 February - Global School Play Day
The right to play and playful learning have been high up on parents' agenda in Europe and becoming a hot topic for parents all over the world. This is why we are happy to share this initiative and suggest you try to make your childrens' school to join.

Take the survey
A survey for parents and practitioners working at child care centres/nurseries is being held as part of a Erasmus+ project entitled "SEQUENCES – Self and external Evaluation of QUality in EUrope to Nourish Childhood Education Services" funded by the European Commission that EPA is a partner in. This project aims to respond to the need to improve the quality of ECEC services through the creation of evaluation tools. The survey ends on 15th March 2017. Please respond according to your knowledge and your own personal experience. Contact us if you want the link to other language versions.

Preparing for our Autums Conference - Report on the 1st European Skills Week
Is vocational education a choice or a punishment?

First ever Quality of Childhood Talk in the European Parliament focusing on Parents
Professor Ramon Flecha (CREA, University of Barcelona) gave a Quality of Childhood talk on 8 November in the European Parliament on scientifically evidenced methods to empower parents to become more successful educators. This was a major event for EPA to raise awareness of the importance of empowering parents, and also to raise awareness about EPA among MEPs. It was the 61st talk, the first ever to be co-hosted by EPA, and has been for 2 years in the pipeline.

Child rights approach to parental involvement and child participation
This paper was prepared for school heads and assistant heads participating at a school leadership training, but it may also be useful for all parents and teachers for designing a rights-based participatory system in their schools. It also contains some child rights aspects to be considered generally in education, some of them often violated, a couple of them are regularly violated on the basis of false assumptions on responsibility or out of ignorance.

Digital Challenges
The European Digital Learning Network asked EPA to contribute to their website, that we did, by an article entitled Helping to overcome the challenges parents (and teachers) face in the digital age. It is hopefully the first step in collaboration for a Europe prepared for the digital age, with special focus on parents and children from our side.

Integration through education
The Lifelong Learning Platform has published a policy paper on integrating refugees and migrants through education as a means to build bridges in divided societies. EPA, very much in line with the work we are currently doing to support the inclusion of migrant parents, has contributed to the paper, especially on the need to empower all educators, to involve parents and to have a school leadership approach for achieving this in formal education.

Segregation through the eyes of small children
Prof. Bojana Breneselovic did major research and found that the younger your child is, the more likely it is they go to a segregated school. Challenging findings.

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