EurActiv - Letters to the Editor

Sir,

Regarding ‘Unreformed European school system ‘might collapse’‘:

Thank you for reporting about the European schools and the public hearing about the system in the European Parliament.

I draw your attention to a comment made by one of the parents during the hearing: when talking about the European schools and the issues connected to them, all the attention focuses on the situation in the big centres of Brussels and Luxembourg.

Eight of the 14 schools are situated elsewhere, and the circumstances in these schools are very different. The percentage of cat. 1 pupils can be fairly small, giving the opportunity to enrol even a majority of children of ordinary European taxpayers. So no social apartheid there, but an opportunity for expats as well as citizens of the host country to be educated in a European-oriented, international environment and experience in real life that foreigners are perhaps different, but not weird.

Europe should seize the opportunity offered by those schools to promote the integration of Europe and work towards the implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon.

Moreover, the European schools outside of the big centres are at least as much needed to ensure the proper working of the European Institutions as those in the big centres. As pointed out during the hearing, some of the EU institutes are located in rather unfavourable areas, e.g. because there is a nuclear reactor on the site.

This leads to difficulties for the institute to attract and maintain staff and also to husbands and wives living separate from one another because the needs of the children do not fit in with the needs of the job. The presence of a fully-fledged European School is necessary, as only the national education system is available as an alternative.

Carine Lingier

Bergen European School

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Comments

  1. Thanks for a good article. Just a couple of added thoughts, to pinpoint some other issues.

    In my opinion of a parent of 4 children at the European School I in Brussels, with 8 years of experience with the School, the system of subsidising by the European Commission or other Eu institutions makes the parents less caring about costs and an efficient running of the School. I’ve found myself multiple times outraged by the costs of school trips and other activities (books, photocopies, gifts…) on top of the school fee (in itself, not very high), and by the lack of interest from the parents, the large majority of whom don’t pay a penny for the school. If they, as I do, would need to bear those expenses directly (even in part), I am sure all of a sudden the school financial management would improve.

    Unfortunately now it seems that the European Schools are even more being restricted to European institutions officials only, so I can’t say I see a positive future in terms of their management, or, indeed, the openness and breadth of perspective of the pupils mix.

  2. I am surprised by the naivety of the letter and the comment. It seems that the only thing wrong with the European school system is the Cat. I parents!

    This is a bit rich given the facts: Cat. I parents have the right that their children are provided with an excellent school service that takes into account their expat situation. This has nothing to do with apartheid (a really shameful comparison) or elites, it’s just the normal service we can expect from an institution that loves to make lofty claims about the social aspects of the working life and the multi-cultural nature of Europe.

    Comparisons between the Brussels and Luxembourg outfits and the other European schools are missing the point. The large majority of pupils happens to be in Brussels and Luxembourg and this is also where the most severe problems of overcrowding occur. Frankly, we should take care of the huge problems of the majority before we get exited about the minor problems of a tiny minority.

    Finally, let’s be honest. The main problem is the immorality of the Belgian and Luxembourg administrations and governments. They love the glory of hosting the institutions and they cherish the economic benefit, but obviously they look down on the very people who make up the institutions and who deliver the economic benefit. And they do this without any risk, as the EU staff will never reach a critical mass in elections and have no means to defend themselves, because decades of brainwash by the press and by Member States have made the “Eurocrats” the perfect hate object.

    This is all sad enough. The fact that this rotten attitude is played out on the back of the children is simply disgusting.

  3. Sorry Ronald, I never questioned the right of European institutions employees to have a school environment that is adequate for their children.

    I simply pointed out that the fact that they receive this for FREE has negative implications on their ability (or indeed willingness) to participate and require a cost control on the School activities, such as trips, supporting materials and teachers replacing other teachers’ absence (another thorny issue in the European School).

    So, the burden of the extra cost is only born by Cat. 3 families (10% of the total or less) and the rest is paid by taxes (which that 10% pays in abundance already…).

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