Kustec presenting presidency priorities in education to EU bodies

Ljubljana – Education Minister Simona Kustec has started her official presentations of the programme of Slovenia’s EU presidency in education, science, sport and youth policies to the European Commission and European Parliament, expressing among other things the intention for decisions on remote learning to be adopted.

In the past week, the minister met virtually with European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Mariya Gabriel and the chair of the European Parliament’s Industry Committee Cristian Silviu Busoi.

Next Monday, Kustec will also talk with the chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education.

The minister said that the four pillars of Slovenia’s programme were digital transformation, green transition, a new vision of education and knowledge and efficient management, including adjustments to future unforeseen events.

As part of Slovenia’s EU presidency in the second half of 2021, a ministerial conference is planned for December on the role of education, science, digitalisation and sport in the rapidly changing world, Kustec told Slovenian correspondents in Brussels on Friday.

The key priorities of the presidency will include efficient management of the European Research Area, integration of modern competences and skills, and promotion of synergies between science and higher education, lifelong learning and mobility.

Kustec, who is also the minister in charge of science and sport, pointed to the importance of cooperation with the Western Balkan countries and promotion of gender equality in all fields.

During Slovenia’s presidency, the EU will still be defining its relations in the field of education with the UK, which has left the Erasmus student exchange programme, and with Switzerland, which wants to participate in the programme.

In both cases, the process is still at the level of diplomatic and political dialogue, the minister added.

Kustec noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has severely affected the Erasmus programme, with certain exchanges being suspended, and some continuing virtually. As part of the new programme, funds are intended for virtual or combined mobility.

In science, the minister said that the Slovenian presidency opened the question of gender equality and research equality between the old and new EU member states, as the research area of Central and East Europe lagged behind the west.

A woman researcher from the new EU member states “puts two heavy stones on her back in advance, which are pulling her back, and she may succeed only if she is a part of very successful networks from recognised western states, which are usually led by male researchers.”

For this reason, Kustec said she would like to conduct very open and concrete conversations about equality in research, including gender equality.