E isn’t only for Etonians, Mr Johnson – It’s also for Erasmus+ and eTwinning
Education should broaden minds, expand horizons, generate awareness of new possibilities.
When I was a local councillor in outer south west London, we operated a residential facility in the Mumbles: every child in the borough’s schools could spend a week there on an activity holiday. For many - far too many - of the borough’s children, it was their one and only childhood trip away from home to see the sea. It was, in the best of ways, education: an expanding childhood experience to treasure.
Earlier, when I was at school, we twinned with a school in France and each of us had a pen friend. Exchange visits were arranged. Of course this broadened minds, expanded horizons, inspired new perspectives and possibilities.
The current government’s ideological disdain for the EU’s Erasmus scheme, the world’s most successful student exchange programme, has become notorious.
Who remembers a clarion call from the Leave campaign in the referendum to quit Erasmus? No-one: it did not happen.
Brexit did not mean the UK had to leave Erasmus+. Full non-EU participants as partner countries include Iceland, Liechtenstein, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia and Turkey.
Established as a student exchange programme in 1987, millions of young Europeans benefitted from Erasmus to study or train in another EU Member State.
In 2014, the scheme expanded into the Erasmus+ programme, providing opportunity for an ever wider range of students, trainees and teachers to learn in another European country.
Erasmus+, now has new focus on social inclusion, the green and digital transitions and promoting young people’s participation in democratic life: all causes consistent with TEAM Global’s ambition for Britain’s youngsters.
The government has named its mean-minded alternative to Erasmus+ after Turing. Who believes Turing would have blessed withdrawal of support in his name for trans-national collaboration and partnerships between educational establishments?
The Oxford European Movement drew attention to one important component: the loss of eTwinning. They observe: After a year of severe disruption to children’s education, the government slamming the door on eTwinning is just a further blow to broadening their horizons.
ETwinning enables pupils aged from 3 to 19 years and their teachers to network with peer groups within other countries participating in Erasmus+.
It helps children of all backgrounds and abilities to broaden horizons, and helpfully to improve language learning in the critical early years. It is particularly useful for disadvantaged pupils as eTwinning takes place within the school environment. It also provides teachers (of whom one million are connected by eTwinning) with continued professional development.
More information about eTwinning can be found at:
https://emoxfordregion.org/2021/03/01/link-listen-learn/ and the European Movement’s petition to save eTwinning is at https://www.europeanmovement.co.uk/save_etwinning.
Erasmus+ includes partner countries across the world - for example from Canada down to Argentina and Chile in the Americas, Africa and the Caribbean, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, most of Asia and so on.
In the Council of Europe, OECD and UNESCO which will carry more soft power weight: the government’s bombast about its cut-price scheme or Europe’s world-leading Erasmus+?
Dirk Hazell, Team Global Executive Committee
25th March 2021