Education was always central in the Labour Government’s work and this measure puts into practice the values which as Labour Party we have always stood for – that of having a just society and that everyone is given an opportunity to succeed.
The removal of SEC and MATSEC examination fees. This measure is giving an opportunity to all students to progress, irrespective of whether their parents can afford to pay or not. Free transportation to and from school and free child-care are also bonuses for all families with young children or children attending schools.
The role of teachers is crucial especially towards our students; we must improve their status, their working conditions, career prospects and pay. We need to invest in teachers’ ongoing professional development and to increase their participation in international exchanges.
The school should be the place where we learn to live together, respecting our differences, in a fast-changing globalised world.
We also insist on education as the key tool for social inclusion and achieving equal opportunities, especially for vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. Access to education must be made non-discriminatory and we have to ensure that everyone enjoys the same chances of accessing and completing education and training at all levels.
The proportion of young people (15-29 years old) in the EU population is declining. On the whole, young people have a higher level of education than older adults, and youth unemployment rates have begun to decrease. Nevertheless, young people are still more exposed to poverty and social exclusion than other sections of the population.
The European Union is engaged in helping Member States address young people’s needs and aspirations through a youth strategy which covers areas such as employment, entrepreneurship, social inclusion, participation, education, training, health, wellbeing, voluntary activities, creativity and culture. The strategy is backed by a number of funding programmes that are specifically focused on young people, particularly the Youth Employment Initiative, Erasmus+. EU action in the area of youth empowerment is best known for the mobility opportunities it has created, in particular through Erasmus.
Future challenges include reaching a wider spectrum of young people, especially those from disadvantaged and hard-to-reach groups, non-discriminatory and barrier-free access to Erasmus+, including more participation of people with few opportunities, people with disabilities and special needs.
There is a large demand for workers in different sectors, especially in the digital economy, however, the number of students specialising in these sectors is still relatively low. Our youths need to be prepared for these careers both academically and through work placements providing an opportunity for the student to enhance his/her skills and knowledge, a placement can also help clarify career goals.
The need for the students’ voice to be heard at more than just on special occasions, but rather at all times
This is the level that we need to aim for to continue progressing and regenerating as a country. Even through the representatives in the European Parliament, we must work for the good of our country and for our youths/students, our future generation.