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Social organisations call on the European Union to develop an urgent strategy to combat school segregation. [editar]

Fundació Bofill, Fundación Secretariado Gitano and Save the Children

Social organisations call on the European Union to develop an urgent strategy to combat school segregation.
  • Fundació Bofill, Fundación Secretariado Gitano and Save the Children urge the European Commission and Member States to develop as a priority specific lines of work against segregation.

  • The lack of a bold approach to tackling segregation in Europe hampers the improvement of educational outcomes and the reduction of school failure and dropout rates, which are central challenges for the EU.

  • In the framework of the European Council Recommendation on "Pathways to School Success", Member States are called upon to deploy active policies against school segregation by 2025.

  • Reducing segregation has so far been tackled in isolation in some Member States, but there is no shared approach at EU level, including specific policies, common targets, financial provision and indicators to monitor the problem.

  • The Spanish Ministry of Education has made a public commitment to develop strategies to promote diversity in the classroom and to put the cause of school segregation on the European agenda.

  • In the current context of growing inequalities and social polarisation, it is essential that the public authorities support schools as a place for coexistence and the construction of shared values.

Fundació Boffill, Fundación Secretariado Gitano and Save the Children, under the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU, have presented a document of recommendations that urges the European Union to provide itself with specific mechanisms to fight school segregation. The recommendations, supported by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, call on the European Commission and Member States to urgently develop a specific line of work to combat school segregation.

The proposals were presented in the framework of the event "Desegregation Policies in the European Union: A Pathway to School Success", held in Brussels on 7 November 2023, which brought together experts, political leaders and representatives of the third sector in a joint will to eradicate segregation in European classrooms and scale up successful experiences at national level.

The European Council adopted in 2022 the Recommendation on "Pathways to School Success", whereby states are called upon to develop, by 2025, school success strategies to minimise the effects of socio-economic status or ethnicity on educational outcomes, promote inclusion and reduce early school leaving. However, the current lack of specific EU strategies to tackle school segregation hampers the achievement of these priority objectives.

School is a privileged place for living together and building common values. In the current context of growing inequalities, extremism and democratic questioning, the failure to support social diversity in the school is a major setback for coexistence and the construction of shared values in European countries.

This is not an isolated phenomenon or a natural consequence of diversity, but a structural problem that could be drastically reduced by adopting proven policies, many of them at a moderate economic cost. However, lack of prioritisation and social resistance have prevented a priority policy line in the European Union to tackle school segregation.

To break these dynamics, the organisers of the event call on the European Commission and the Member States to urgently implement a set of measures to fulfil the commitment to develop "integrated and comprehensive strategies towards school success" by 2025, in accordance with the Council Recommendation on "Pathways to success at school":

Proposals for the European institutions:

  1. Prioritise the challenge of school segregation within the European agenda. Pay specific attention to the objective of reducing school segregation within the strategies for school success in the framework of the European Education Area agenda and place it at the heart of future editions of the Education Monitor and the follow-up to the European Semester.
  2. Build common indicators and monitoring school segregation in the Member States from the European institutions. Develop indicators that make it possible to compare segregation in European territories and incorporate them into the mechanisms for monitoring educational actions. It is also recommended that the Commission develop specific reports and research on national policies.
  3. Develop guidelines on desegregation policies at European level, prioritise research in this field and create spaces for peer learning. Support States in the development of plans and policies, and generate resources and spaces for sharing effective approaches to combating school segregation.
  4. Promote the development of measures within the framework of EU Cohesion Policy Funds. Encourage Member States' involvement by programming specific education objectives in the EU Cohesion Policy Funds 2021-2027, both in the programming of specific education objectives and in the possible reprogramming of funds, as well as through other relevant EU programmes and initiatives.

Proposals for Member States

  1. Promote regulatory developments to enable the implementation of specific measures against school segregation. Effectively implement and develop policy frameworks to deploy effective and sustainable anti-segregation measures.
  2. Diagnose and monitor school segregation with common indicators. Develop indicators to identify priority areas for intervention and evaluate the impact of implemented interventions.
  3. Promote coalitions, social agreements and campaigns in favour of the fight against school segregation. Encourage coalitions involving civil society and administrations at sub-national level as well as awareness-raising campaigns in favour of social cohesion.
  4. Leverage European funds for measures to reduce school segregation. Ensure appropriate approaches and sufficient budget allocations to deploy the measures.

International organisations such as the OECD and UNESCO have been warning for years of the serious risks of school segregation on the efficiency and quality of education. Policy inaction allows European education systems to concentrate the most vulnerable pupils - among others, from the Roma community and migrant backgrounds - in certain schools, profoundly damaging their educational opportunities.

Numerous studies show that students who study in segregated schools have poorer results, a higher risk of dropping out of school and negative effects throughout their lives. Furthermore, the lack of social diversity in schools makes it difficult for our societies to live together as students miss out on opportunities for interaction and exchange with students from other social backgrounds. It will be difficult to create cohesive societies, in which different social groups have shared interests and build common projects, if there is hardly any social diversity in the main space for socialisation and learning in childhood. School should not be a place where social divides are learned and reinforced, but one where bridges are built between different social groups.

The Spanish Secretary of State for Education, José Manuel Bar, gave his support to the civil society proposals at the launch event and called for urgent measures in this area. "The fight against school segregation is not only a moral obligation. It is a tool for educational success,” he said, adding: "an advanced and democratic society cannot be proud of its education system if it is a system that marginalises and segregates, that does not enable equal opportunities.”

By convening this monographic event on school segregation within the framework of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU, Spain is taking a step forward as a leader in placing the problem on the EU agenda. It also reaffirms its commitment to the development of desegregation policies from the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, within the framework of the Spanish laws LOMLOE (on Education) and the Law on Non-Discrimination.