By Chris Stenseth, UK Europe @ School Co-Ordinator
We are finally ready for the re-launch of one of the Young European Movement’s most popular initiatives!
It is with great pride that we want to introduce you to our new Europe @ School programme, and the process that has been taking place over the last few months.
What is it for?
The programme is mainly aimed at providing education on Europe and the European Union to school-age children. Sadly, these are topics that too often appear difficult, distant and farfetched to many Europeans, but we never say no to a good challenge! The project therefore offers insight into topics such as the European institutions, history, economics and culture in an exciting, engaging and young person-friendly way. Our main goal is to equip young Europeans with the knowledge and skills they need to make up their own opinion about Europe and European issues.
Our goal builds on the belief that education and knowledge is a major part of good citizenship. Without sufficient education and insight into an important issue, it is impossible to take a reflected stance when it comes to important topics, such as last year’s Brexit referendum. This lack of civic education has been one of Europe and the European Union’s main problems for years, and is not a UK-specific issue, so improving education on political and contextual issues is a challenge that European countries are in unison… time to change that!
Where did the idea come from?
It is important to note that Europe @ School is not something new, nor is it something exclusive to YEM UK. As a matter of fact, the programme has been run successfully in France for more than fifteen years. Today, JEF France manages a large volunteer network that has managed to maintain and expand what can be regarded one JEF France’s greatest accomplishments. Their success is an accomplishment that YEM UK and other national sections can learn a lot from. Hands down.
YEM UK and Europe @ School
This is where the new national board came onto the scene with the hope of re-invigorating the old and clunky Europe @ School programme in the UK. I am personally a strong supporter of the European cause, as well as an advocate of open, civic education. It was with the hope of actively taking part in these topics that decided to run for the national board as their new Europe @ School coordinator. Despite my keen interest, I had very little prior experience with the programme, apart from knowing of it and its success. This fact probably made the challenge of establishing a new Europe @ School programme greater than it would have been for someone more familiar with the programme. Coordinating the programme involves tasks spanning from creating lesson plans and administrative documents to working closely with both local branches, other national branches and a range of different organisations.
Thankfully, YEM has been as lucky as to receive extensive help from our friends in JEF France and from their “l’Europe par les jeunes” coordinator, Ninon. Without their support in the starting phase, I am unsure where we would have been in the development of this project. However, I am certain that it would not have been ready for launch as early as in February.
In addition to JEF France, the new national board as well as its contact network have been extremely helpful as sparring partners for creative and thematic input. Our Communications Officer, Anna, has also been indispensable in her job creating the Europe @ School section on our web page and templates for our resources. In true European style, we have been far stronger and more effective together than we ever could have been alone.
I would also like to thank the European Society, one of our partner-organisations which provides a similar Europe @ School programme, and with whom we are closely cooperating.
As you understand, establishing and maintaining such a programme is not a one-man-show, and reaching the stage where we are today would have been impossible if it was not for all our extraordinary and hard-working volunteers. In the future, we hope that even more people UK and Europe-wide wish to take part in the programme, and help establishing new networks, both with schools, but also intra-JEF and intra-UK. In order for the programme to expand, we need more volunteers who help create lesson plans, games and presentations. The more people who partake, the more materials we will have at hand, which also means less work for the people involved. By achieving this, we can assure that the programme establishes itself and that it will keep running smoothly for the years to come.
Thank you for reading this blog post! We are delighted to launch the programme in a week’s time, and we encourage all members of the Young European Movement and our volunteers to participate.
Want to know more? Email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org
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