If there was anything positive about the Covid-19 pandemic, it is that we have been reminded of the importance of public services and the access to essential and quality services from education to healthcare. In this crisis, educational and care workers have regained the recognition they had lost a long time ago. However, besides its ongoing death toll and the economic downturn in its wake, the pandemic has also increased inequalities, and left the most vulnerable groups with an even higher mountain to climb.
In this Dossier, our authors look at the multilevel challenges and recent negative developments that have affected learners and educational systems in Europe. But they also highlight the key actors, stakeholders and opportunities that can reinforce the European agenda on Education and Skills. 2021 can be decisive for progressives to position themselves and address inequality by fighting for access to more equitable, tailored and quality education, from early days to adult learning, through proposals on the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan and Lifelong Learning, and on the occasion of the upcoming Social Summit in Porto.
Maria Herzcog, President of the Executive Committee of the Child Rights Connect, reminds us that the fight against inequalities starts in the early years and that the importance of early childhood education and care cannot be overlooked. Victor Negrescu, Vice-president of the Education and Culture Committee of the European Parliament, shares his ambition for a European Education Union. Jernej Pikalo, former Slovenian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, focuses on the goal of European education policies to create not only growth but social justice. Finally, Siria Taurelli, Content Coordinator of Governance and Quality Assurance of Lifelong Learning, at the European Training Foundation (ETF), invites us to reflect on stronger cooperation between European actors on the skills agenda to prepare for the transitions to come.