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Building sustainable and future-proof education systems: How can families contribute to a paradigm shift?” 4-5 October, Austria

A COFACE Families Europe conference, co-hosted with KFÖ, the City of Graz, the Province of Styria under the Austrian EU-Presidency


The starting point for the conference is to explore education in a holistic way and bring the family perspective to debates on education, including the core values of COFACE Families Europe: social inclusion, equal opportunities, solidarity, empowerment, human rights and non-discrimination. COFACE Families Europe considers these essential for building inclusive, diverse and sustainable communities in Europe.


  • The Right to Education has been recognized as a human right in a number of international conventions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 26), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Articles 13 and 14), and the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 28) which recognises a right to free, compulsory primary education for all, and includes an obligation to develop secondary education and higher education accessible to all. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) defines and guarantees the right to inclusive education.
  • The UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030. SDG 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learningEducation is the key that will allow many other SDGs to be achieved. Inclusive and quality education must therefore be placed as a priority in both policy and practice.
  • Child rights and well-being is a priority for COFACE Families Europe, and this includes in the field of education. Member organisations of COFACE Families Europe provide different types of services to families to help them support the well-being of their children, including support in addressing challenges linked to the education of their children.
  • Education is a hot topic at EU level, with principle 1 of the recently proclaimed European Pillar of Social Rights focusing on Education, training and life-long learning: “Everyone has the right to quality and inclusive education, training and life-long learning in order to maintain and acquire skills that enable them to participate fully in society and manage successfully transitions in the labour market.”

Conference objectives

The combination of international human rights obligations, the momentum around the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the newly proclaimed European Pillar of Social Rights, and the importance of education for COFACE Families Europe, means the time is right for us to contribute to promoting education where children without discrimination can take part in quality and inclusive education, so they can have a good start in life and access better opportunities across their lifecycle.

This conference will look at education holistically, and namely:

  • Mainstream the core values of COFACE in discussions on education;
  • Examine the role of families as first educators and their support needs;
  • Explore the role of families in building sustainable and future-proof education systems;
  • Ensure that inclusive and quality education is placed as priority in both policy and practice;
  • Contribute to shaping the future education landscape in Europe.

Thematic workshops

Different experts on education will gather from Europe and Austria to examine practical examples of along the following four topics:

  • Making education inclusive and accessible for all;
  • The role and limits of digitalization in schools;
  • The importance of childcare, at a crossroads between education, family and social policy;
  • Supporting parents to tackle different forms of discrimination in schools.

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Speaker’s presentations

Welcome speeches

Video message from Marianne Thyssen, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility

“Placing the child at the centre of our education systems”
Irmeli Halinen, Director for Educational Innovations, Metodix Oy. Former Head of National Curriculum Development, Finland.

WS 1: Inclusive education from right to reality: is legislation enough to empower families?

Michèle Racke, Deputy Director of APEMH, Luxembourg.
Gaetano Santonocito, Managing Director of A.I.A.S. Città di Monza Onlus, Italy.
Isabel Amaro (Psychologist) and Maria José Lorena (Occupational Therapist), Fundaçao Liga, Portugal.

WS 2: The transformative power of digitalization in schools: where to draw the line?

Claire Morvan, Communication Manager, eTwinning, Europe.
Julien Léonard, Expert, Union Nationale des Associations Familiales, UNAF, France

WS 3: Childcare in the 21st century: at a crossroads between education, family and social policy?

Kurt Hohensinner, City Councellor for Families, Youth, Education, childcare and social affairs, Member of the City Government, Graz, Austria.
Sven Iversen, Director of the Association of German Family Organisations (AGF), Germany.

WS 4: Parental support services to address discrimination against their children: how can education contribute to building inclusive societies?

Livia Járóka, Member of European Parliament, Hungary. (video speech)
Astrid Ebenberger, KFÖ-Vice-President
Antonia Torrens, Director of KMOP (Family and Childcare Centre), Greece.


More information

To see the programme of the conference click here.

To see the biographies of the great international line-up of speakers click here.

To see the info pack, click here on INFO PACK GRAZ CONFERENCE 4-5.10.2018.

Questions? Contact

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