Although education is still, first and foremost, a national matter in Europe, it is increasingly becoming a European topic as well. The European institutions have a supportive competence in the field of education. The European Union, the Council of Europe as well as the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, all provide platforms for reflecting on education in Europe. Education is recognised as one of the most important means for promoting shared values, intercultural dialogue and an active European citizenship. It concerns all areas of life and is seen as a life-long learning process including formal as well as non-formal education.


Peter Schreiner (2012): Religion im Kontext einer Europäisierung von Bildung. Eine Rekonstruktion europäischer Diskurse und Entwicklungen aus protestantischer Perspektive. Münster: Waxmann 2012, 402 pages; ISBN 978-3-8309-2801-0, 29,90 euro, available at Comenius bookshop

English title: Religion in the Context of a Europeanisation of Education. A reconstruction of European discourses and developments from a protestant perspective.

The book is written in German language but includes an English summary (pp. 344-352 and a Dutch summary (pp. 353-362).

The study reconstructs the importance of religion in the context of a Europeanisation of education. Key documents of the Council of Europe and the European Union are analysed by using qualitative content analysis and discourse analysis.

The book gives an innovative and systematic exploration of the connection between religion and education on the European level. Contributions of churches and religious associations are discussed as well as the dialogue of the European Union with churches and religious communities. 

Signposts - Policy and practice for teaching about religions and non-religious world views in intercultural education (2014)

« Signposts goes much further by providing advice to policy makers, schools (including teachers, senior managers and governors) and teacher trainers on tackling issues arising from the recommendation.  (…) Signposts gives advice, for example, on clarifying the terms used in this form of education; developing competences for teaching and learning, and working with different didactical approaches; creating “safe space” for moderated student-to-student dialogue in the classroom; helping students to analyze media representations of religions; discussing non-religious world views alongside religious perspectives; handling human rights issues relating to religion and belief.”

Price: 19.00€ at the Council of Europe Online Bookshop

Dimension of religions and non-religious convictions within intercultural education - Recommendation CM/Rec(2008)12 and explanatory memorandum (2009)

“This policy recommendation defines the perspective from which religions and non-religious convictions are to be taken into account in a framework of intercultural education, while setting out a number of principles, objectives and teaching and learning methods.”

Price: 10.00€ at the Council of Europe Online Bookshop

Available now

Intereuropean Commission on Church and School
Newsletter No 5 - July 2014

English - German

Imagine a Europe...

As a service to member Churches interested in promoting active, democratic and responsible participation in European affairs, the CEC-CSC Working Group on Education has produced a set of postcards, portraying a vision of Europe as it could be and linking its pre-occupations and concerns directly to the Christian ethos.


You can distribute these cards in various ways and places: to trigger discussions in schools, colleges and universities; in confirmation classes; in parishes and to other groups, in particular young people; at gatherings and events you organize or participate in; more generally you could give them out to clergy and other church workers, to all those having formal or less formal responsibilities in the life of the church, inviting them to make the best use of them. You could also use them as postcards to send to relatives, friends or colleagues; or simply place them on tables in churches and church-related institutions, or in public spaces like cafés, etc. These are only some examples. We invite you to find out what would be appropriate to your usual practices and in your particular situation.

The Council of Europe's White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue - see page 22 a chapter on the religious dimension

White Paper

A publication by themes by the Council of Europe - launched on 5 May 2014

Council of Europe (CoE) in Strasbourg dialogues with religions and convictional organisations

 “Education should enable us to respect and live with difference, work towards common objectives, adapt to global change, confront religious violence, and respect dignity”: this was the strong message by participants to the panel on “education, awareness-raising on religion and beliefs, as well as dialogue and cooperation among and with religious and non-religious representatives”. This panel was part of the 2013 Council of Europe Exchange on the Religious Dimension of Intercultural Dialogue, on 2-3 September in Yerevan, under Armenian Chairmanship. The Strasbourg CEC office is always taking an active part in the preparations, and in 2013 the CSC Human Rights Secretary participated as a resource person in a panel on religious minorities.

The overall topic of the 2013 meeting was: “Freedom of religion in today’s world: challenges and guarantees”. The panel on education also underlined the need for a “good (universal) philosophy of human dignity, the existence of which is a foundation for the universal value of human rights”. No doubt that religion and Christianity and CEC member churches in particular, can contribute to such a foundation. They can also contribute to prevention of conflict and reconciliation, as well as fostering respect and tolerance among and between people of different religions and convictions, to strengthen peaceful living together in society. For more information clikc here

The Annual Exchange meetings on the Religious Dimension of Intercultural Dialogue have been organised since 2007 by the Committee of Ministers of the CoE, in consultation with representatives of faith and convictional organisations. These regular high level meetings (e.g. in presence of CoE Ambassadors to the CoE and of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicas o All Armenians) are a sign that national governments from the whole European continent take religion more and more seriously.

Church and Society Commission discuss the European Year of Citizens...

The European Year of Citizens 2013 has been the main theme of the annual plenary meeting of the Church and Society Commission of the Conference of European Churches (CSC) that took place in Brussels from 18-20 April. Carsten Lietz, member of the cabinet of Commissioner Reding introduced the activities and the background of the Year that has been declared by the EU.

Contributions on the main theme:

European citizenship - A Protestant theological approach
Rev Didier Crouzet - United Protestant Church of France

A theology of European Citizenship: a catholic approach
Rev Dr Frank Turner S. J. -  Jesuit European Social Centre

Theological Dimensions of Citizenship from an Orthodox Perspective  - Rev Dr Sorin Selaru - Representation of the Romanian Orthodox Church to the EU


Now available for download

“Education for Democratic Citizenship” in the Context of Europe
Material and Resources for Churches and Educators
Edited by Peter Schreiner (Comenius-Institut)

A publication of the Church & Society Commission of CEC, the Intereuropean Commission on Church and School and the International Association for Christian Education in cooperation with the Comenius-Institut
This publication is a tool to provide information about basic elements and initiatives in Education for Democratic Citizenship (EDC).
EDC is perceived as an important issue that is addressed by European institutions such as the European Union and the Council of Europe and also in national agencies.
The book introduces the content of EDC by providing definitions and by presenting elements of the concept. Activities of the Council of Europe and the EU are introduced as well as other European and national examples of good practice.
The book also provides a glossary, a selected number of key documents and an annotated literature list. This publication is especially aimed at churches and educators and is the result of a collaboration between the Comenius-Institut, ICCS, IV and the Church and Society Commission of the Conference of European Churches.

Dr. Peter Schreiner


Education is one of the five crucial targets of the Europe 2020 strategy, decided on in 2010 by the European Union, and to be developed in the coming years. The other targets cover employment, research, environment and poverty.

The following Briefing Paper, prepared by the CSC Working Group on Education, aims at informing and involving the churches in a crucial debate at a European level on a matter also important for national education systems.



Vital role for churches in education for democratic citizenship

The church has a vital role to play in the democratic structures of modern day society. Democracy is an ongoing process, and the church can participate very effectively through educating citizens to be part of that process.

The Conference on Education for Democratic Citizenship – a role for the churches? took place from October 5-7 in Strasbourg. Organised by the Church and Society Commission (CSC) of the Conference of European Churches (CEC), the conference brought together members of churches and church organisations, clergy, lay, NGOs and academics, to discuss and debate how the church can act as a responsible part of civil society. This was confirmed through a dialogue with representatives of the institutions of the Council of Europe and a member of the cabinet of the EU Commissioner responsible for education. The timing of this dialogue is right, in view of the pending launch of the budget for education, which will be raised by 75% to 15,2 bn € (see note 1).

One very encouraging outcome of the conference was the achievement of openness on the part of the officials of the EU and of local government to keep the dialogue with the churches going. That is a promise for the future.

Report - English

Conference programme - English

Europe for citizens programme of the European Commission - English

"Christianity, Citizenship and Education" by Dr.Liam Gearon, University of Oxford - English

The work of the European Institutions - Presentation by Ms Maria Ochoa-Llido - English

Mr Robert Herrmann, Deputy Mayor of Strasbourg - French

1) Proposal of a new programme for education, training and youth – “Education Europe” 2014-2020 :


CSC Report on the Future of European Higher Education describes what the European co-operation in higher education has achieved and not achieved thus far, where it is heading, how it is organised and how churches can join in. The paper also explains the main points of criticism and allows the officials a possibility to respond. The document looks at both the EU and the Bologna Process, now called the European Higher Education Area, which are two separate but intertwined processes. The report was commissioned by the Church of Sweden.



© Aarhus Universitetsforlag

Some reading material which you might find of interest :

The School for Life : N.F.S. Grundtvig on Education for the People - Edward Broadbridge, Clay Warren & Uffe Jonas





The newly established CSC Working Group started its work.

The Working Group will

1. organise a consultation on education for citizenship for those in member churches who are responsible for religious education. It will organise the follow-up of the consultation with regard to CSC, member churches and the European Institutions.

2. translate the findings of the conference and the CSC Education Strategy in an CSC action plan (2012/13 on education involving member churches

3. monitor and dialogue with the European Institutions on matters of education and keep member churches and associated members informed about developments (special emphasis on DG Education/DG Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship of the EU and the CoE Directorate on Education, Youth, Culture and Sport. 

4. develop the CSC online library on Education and on Citizenship

Its members are:

Ms Hanna BROADRIDGE - Lutheran Church of Denmark
Mr Vincent DUBOIS - United Church of Belgium
Mr Maximilian KARRASCH - WSCF-Europe
Rev Dr Daniel SCHMID HOLZ - Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches
Dr Peter SCHREINER - EKD / Intereuropean Commission on Church and School
Mr Sandor SZECSI - International Association for Christian Education
Rev Dr Wolfgang WÜNSCH - Evangelical Church A.B. in Romanian
Dr Kostas ZORBAS - Orthodox Church of Greece

The staff serving the group is:
Ms Maria POMAZKOVA - Administrative Secretary
Rev John MURRAY - Associate Staff
Rev Richard FISCHER - Executive Secretary

The WG met in May 2011. It focussed on helping finalising the Conference on Education for Democratic Citizenship. Invitations were sent out to CEC member churches and associate organisations end of June.

For further information on the Conference please contact the Church and Society Commission office in Strasbourg.

Democratic CitizenshipDemocratic Citizenship

Estonia leads the way

An interchurch group from the diocese of Aarhus, Denmark visited Estonia in late September to meet congregations and the consistorium in Tallinn and to hear how church life was developing and also to sense the atmosphere in the country in the present ‘cool’ climate in that part of Europe.

Our meeting with the pastoral seminary in Tallinn threw up some surprises. The present leader of this institution, Ove Sander, had been there for 4 years and had in that time increased the numbers of theology students preparing for pastoral work in the parishes  from 20 to 150, not only thanks to a newly set up cooperation with the ecumenical Orthodox church from Istanbul. For us it was very interesting to hear about the one year training course that students share to prepare them for a life in the churches. A life that demands a lot of willingness to work hard to improve the numbers in the churches, improve the state of the buildings and support the hope and efforts that the country has made in the last few years in so many ways.

The total numbers of all Christian confessions amount to 20 % of the population of 1.5 million, so it is necessary to work together where ever possible. Ove Sander stressed that the time of confessions is over. It is now a question of there being a Christian church or not. Therefore all churches have to work together, including on the theological education and training and the growth of Christian schools. The churches are greatly concerned with – and involved in – building up work for and with children and young people since they are the future. So even where there is little money, the facilities for children and young people take centre stage in the congregational outreach. This even covers soup on Sundays after the church service, also and perhaps more necessary in the summer when the schools are closed and therefore there are no free meals.


We have rarely seen such determination among young people to move the country forwards, to shoulder responsibility and hard work in the parishes, and therefore they are deeply committed to cooperation with and inspiration from other church e.g. through the Porvoo communion, CEC or LWF.  

Hanna Broadbridge


Signposts: Why should you read this publication?

The new Council of Europe document is worth reading. It offers a rich collection of issues, arguments and content about policy and practice for teaching about religions and non-religious world views in intercultural education. Its purpose is to help implement Recommendation CM/Rec(2008)12 on the dimension of religions and non-religious convictions within intercultural education issued by the Committee of Ministers in 2008 (text here):  

-         Signposts aims at assisting policy makers, schools and teacher trainers –  as well as other actors in education – in using the recommendation in their own particular national, regional and local context.

-         Signposts suggests practical ways forward and ideas for practice-based research.

The book consists of ten chapters.

1.       The recommendation: background issues and challenges

2.       Introducing Signposts and its key themes (“Religion”; “Culture”; “intercultural education”; hints on different ways and differences in understanding religion and religious understanding; findings of a survey among member states)

3.       Terminology associated with teaching about religions and beliefs

4.       Competence and didactics for understanding religions

5.       The classroom as a safe space (oriented on dialogue)

6.       The representation of religions in the media

7.       Non-religious convictions and world views

8.       Human rights issues (and teaching about religions)

9.       Linking schools to wider communities and organisations

10.   Promoting further discussion and action

Of course the document is not about religious education that is close to concerns of member churches in many contexts. But it offers encouraging views for further dialogue and exchange also with confessional approaches to religious education.

“Signposts is an aid to thinking through issues of teaching about religions and non-religious world views in different national contexts, raised by the recommendation. The document is called Signposts in order to emphasise its flexible nature. It is a tool to be used by educators and other stakeholders in member states, developing their own policies and approaches to teaching and learning about religions and beliefs in their own contexts, but taking into close account the principles,  values and ideas expressed in the recommendation.” (P. 21)


Council of Europe (2014): Signposts – Policy and practice for teaching about religions and non-religious world views in intercultural education, Strasbourg, ISNB: 978-92-871-7914-2, 19 €: Order: printed or as a pdf file. 

Dr Peter Schreiner


Pity in a welfare state

A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest and a Levite had also been journeying along the same road, but when they saw him they passed by on the other side. Then a Samaritan came along and when he saw the injured man he was moved with pity. He went to him, poured oil and wine into his wounds and bandaged them. Then he set him on his ass and took him to an inn, and there took care of him. He was the good Samaritan.
The injured man on the road could not call an ambulance. He depended on the compassion of others and was lucky because he moved the heart of the Samaritan. The Samaritan was well mannered.
In this story, social cohesion is linked with pity and individual behaviour and responsibility. The Samaritan did not have the right to ask for care. We can only say that as human beings we have an obligation to help someone who is injured. Obligation and dependence are part of citizenship.
There is a lot of uncertainty. There was a one in three probability that someone would care for the injured man on the road. Social security, however, can neither be founded on maybe’, nor on the probability of one third surviving a robbery with violence - leaving aside the prosecution of the robber.
We are happy to live in a welfare state. The welfare state has implemented a viable public health system and legal security. You can count on the ambulance - it will arrive within fifteen minutes and if not, you will complain. A welfare state is not founded on pity or on hearts being moved with compassion. Our welfare state is founded on rights. The risk here is that people then lose any sense of personal responsibility: The ambulance will come, I can pass by.
Can social cohesion be founded only on rights? The root of the German word for pity – Erbarmen, Barmherzigkeit - is ‚barm’. That is the term used for the breast of a woman, full of milk. The Samaritan gave life to the injured man. I would emphasise that the theological understanding of rights has an inbuilt understanding of the rights of the poor and vulnerable. That means that rights are linked to empathy, pity and kindness and based on regard for the life of the vulnerable person. We call it the option for the poor.
Citizenship is not only connected to human rights but also to the virtues and strengths of compassion and pity.

Daniel Schmid Holz



The new EU programme for education, training, youth and sport - Erasmus+ - started in January 2014 and will run until 2020. Erasmus plus follows on from “Erasmus for All” which ended in 2013. The ‘plus’ of Erasmus plus signifies the addition of sport and the inclusion of better possibilities for co-operation. The admission and administration procedures have been simplified. There is a budget of 14,7 billion euros, 40% more than in the previous  programme.

The fields of education, training, youth and sport can make a major contribution in helping to tackle the key challenges that Europe faces now and will face in the next decade. Within the Europe 2020 Strategy these areas have been recognised as vital in the drive to overcome the socio-economic crisis, boost growth and employment and foster social equity and inclusion.

The programme will also seek to address the social challenges presented by the oft-mentioned economic crisis: the development of social capital among young people and enhancement of their ability to participate actively in society. This goal is in line with the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty which aim to "encourage the participation of young people in democratic life in Europe".

This issue can be targeted (especially by the churches) through non-formal educational activities, designed to improve the skills and competences of young people, as well as encouraging active citizenship.

You can apply for new projects once a year. The deadline for applications for mobility projects was March 24 2014. The deadline for cooperation projects is April 30. 2014. In addition to the EU member states the following countries can take part under certain conditions. These countries are:

•Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, subject to an EEA Joint Committee Decision

•the Swiss Confederation. As a consequence of the vote of February 9 2014 Switzerland is no longer on an equal footing with member countries of the EU but is seen as a partner country. (This means the Swiss do cannot have the position as team leaders, their European partners have to apply for Swiss teams in a European country, give proof of the added value of Swiss partners, no congress to be held in Switzerland and restrictions apply on the stay of Swiss workers in a European country.)

•Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are subject to the signature of an agreement between the Commission and the competent authorities in each of these countries.

Further information and application forms can be found on:

We warmly recommend taking part.

Daniel Schmid Holz


Churches as facilitators of visits to homes

The European Community needs better press and media coverage. People need to know more about each other, not just about politics and economics, but more about values and lives as they are lived out by ordinary people in ordinary homes and jobs all over Europe.

Many people in Europe travel to other European countries for their holidays, whether that is a beach holiday with the kids or a cultural holiday with more sightseeing. What would be real fun and a valuable lesson  for both the host and the visitor alike able to  would be to visit the homes of real people in the foreign country and hear about their thoughts and feelings, their traditions,  in short their reality, and share with them your interests,  values, ways of life and so on.

Churches should do more to make such visits possible. Just as you can swop homes, cars, bicycles, so should or could churches facilitate visits to homes and families, for a day, or just an afternoon or evening, where conversations  can take people anywhere, but are all likely to build relationship and mutual understanding at the levels where these things matter. High level politics are important and extremely necessary, but so is also the contact and respect for the ordinary lives that we all lead, the way we even practice our religion.

Information and enlightenment at this level can help to remove the ridicule of and disrespect for one another.  The EU is not just a political organization, it is most of all an organization that builds on our common origins and beliefs, and supports our understanding of our common past and our immensely important future TOGETHER. That is why there are still countries that are knocking on the EU door to be let in to the values and ways of our lives. We are all interdependent, and so we should work towards building the European house and family stronger and better.

Hanna Broadbridge


European elections are seen to become more important

The recent reshuffle in the Danish government has highlighted the views of the new Foreign Minister, Martin Lidegaard, who now wants Denmark to be more involved with and more concerned about issues from Brussels.

The election for the European Parliament is approaching.  Two organisations, Grundtvig’s Forum and the Council for International Relations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, supported by the Association of Teachers of Sociology, have produced cards with questions to raise awareness and to stimulate discussion in schools, churches, youth clubs and all the other places where people gather and talk. Each card has a relevant Europe quote from some well-known person, followed by a question that is designed to open up the discussion, with viewpoints given both for and against the position taken. The expectation is that when possessed of insight and provided with information, both young and old will feel more inclined to take part in the run-up to the election and then go to vote on the day.

People of all ages slowly seem to be awakening to their democratic rights, duties and responsibility.

These projects have been financed by a grant of €5000 from ‘Europanævnet’ in Denmark.

Hanna Broadbridge


The Youth guarantee scheme

Last Wednesday, 17th of April, the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) agreed to a recommendation (7123/13) establishing "youth guarantee" schemes. The recommendation will be formally adopted by the Council at a later stage. Although not a legally binding act, the recommendation reflects a strong political commitment by the member states. It aims to ensure that all young people under the age of 25 who lose their job or do not find work after leaving education quickly receive a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship. They should receive such an offer within four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education. The "youth guarantee" is intended to provide for a smooth transition between school and work, support labour market integration and make sure that no young person is left out. This measure comes in response to the worsening youth employment situation across Europe, with an increasing number of young people who are not in employment, education or training. The investment required for such guarantee schemes should be set against the high social and economic costs which wide-spread youth unemployment would entail in the longer term.

Rev. Richard Fischer


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