The next steps in the Technical Support Instrument (TSI) project to combat disparities in access to inclusive education in Italy, Portugal and Spain were discussed at a Steering Committee meeting in Lisbon on 21–22 March 2023.
The Agency is working as a technical provider to the three countries in a project funded by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support (DG REFORM). In the first phase of the project, launched in October 2022, country analysts and researchers from the Agency team focused on analysing the inclusive education system in the project countries, according to national priorities, highlighting emerging issues in the system and areas for further development.
The meeting in Lisbon aimed to present the results of the project so far. The meeting was opened by the Portuguese Minister of Education, João Costa. In his welcoming speech, the Minister gave an overview of developments in the Portuguese education system in the past years. He emphasised that everyone has the capacity to learn, and that education is a right for everyone, regardless of their differences, so we need to address every learner’s needs.
Following the Minister’s welcome, Ciresica Feyer, Deputy Head of Unit from DG REFORM outlined the project’s aims, placing it into a wider context of the TSI work. With this support instrument, DG REFORM has been helping member states to facilitate access to quality education and putting in place measures to address issues identified by each country. She emphasised that in this journey we need everybody’s firm commitment, from political to technical levels.
Representatives from the Agency presented the project methodology and findings so far. The team has used the three countries’ individual activity priorities to create six common themes which the activity will focus on. These include governance and funding, monitoring and evaluation, specialist support in the classroom, and teacher education. Agency Team Leader, Mary Kyriazopoulou informed participants about a series of upcoming working groups, study visits and peer learning activities which will encourage stakeholder involvement in the next phases of the activity to inform the final recommendations.
In addition to the presentation from the Agency, research advisor Gordon Porter outlined essential elements for the successful implementation of inclusive educational systems. Following this, policy experts from Finland, Norway and Sweden shared experiences and examples of inclusive education practice in their countries.
Logos of project partners, ministries of education from Italy, Spain and Portugal, the Agency logo and DG REFORM, with the European Union logo that explains that this project is funded by the European Union.