In September, European Green’s featured the film “Children of Chance” and held a debate on the education system in Europe. This is part of the Green Screen project focusing on contemporary issues through films and debates. According to Mar Garcia, the Secretary General of the European Green Party, the project “would be a nice way to support the cultural sector and foster political debate around different topics. That’s the soul of the Green Screen.

How education can make a difference in communities

Children of Chance” tells a story of a small local school in Cheratte, a former mining town in Belgium. It features 11-year old students with immigrant background who are coming to the end of their primary school education with teacher. The children are the grandsons of miners who mainly come from Turkey and also are Muslims. This film evokes the challenge awaiting these children to integrate into current society, in the face of terrorist attacks and harassment via social media.

Education has always been a serious problem for kids who come from poor families and the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the inequity between the rich and poor. In the debate, researchers and teachers discussed education as a tool of empowerment and equal opportunity for all citizens. The difference ambitious educational programs can make in the lives of children today.

Debate highlights

Members who joined the debate expressed their opinions on the topic.

“Often, we see schools just as a site of academic endeavour, but it is much more than that. It is a space where they meet up with their friends, where they get support from their teachers, where they have a nice and quiet place to engage with their schoolwork.” – Dr. Merike Darmody, Research Officer at the Economic and Social Research Institute and Adjunct Assistant Professor at Trinity College Dublin

“One thing that we find interesting is that equal attention and equal opportunities does not enable equality at the end. (…) In Utrecht, to create equal outcomes, we try to invest unequally where the resources are more needed to foster a more equal result and ensure that no one is left behind.” – Sebastiaan Rood, City Councillor for GroenLinks in Utrecht (the Dutch Greens), spokesperson for Education, Sports and Buildings

“How do you make children from within Europe from other cultural backgrounds that are for example not included within history and are often also ignored in terms of cultural habits that might be slightly different – How do you include them? (…) In my experience we take steps during the start of the year to get some information from the children themselves through surveys and dialogues.” – Elias Verhalle, Secondary school teacher in Merchtem, Belgium

In the debate, teachers and scholars agree that the education’s landscape changes when different pedagogical approaches emerged in the past years. As a result, the digitalization of education has become accelerated, the role of teachers has changed, and new forms of inequality have emerged, according to European Greens news.

European Greens argue that we need to ensure education equity helps schools and students recover from the global health crisis. Now, they are calling for national plans as a driving force towards a real transition to a more resilient and sustainable economic model. The most important thing is to build a truly social Europe and the core concern is the equality of educational opportunity.

Yawei Zhang

Yawei comes from China. He received a Master's degree at Lakehead University majoring in History. Passionate in journalism, he is interested in environmental and political issues. In his free time, he enjoys travelling and coin collection.

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