European Democrat Students launch ‘Knowledge is Power’ campaign

Logo of the European Democrat Students

The European Democrat Students (EDS) yesterday launched their “Knowledge is Power Campaign”. This campaign encourages EU political leaders to prioritize efforts on higher education and research funding. EDS urges leaders to introduce stimulus packages for the higher education sector, which is an important factor to help boost economic recovery in Europe.

The EDS emphasizes the importance of having a good education system for our future generations, and wish to encourage politicians to invest more resources in higher education and research. The EDS strongly believes that Europe 2020 is the fundamental guideline for all 27 Member States and thus, endorse the principle of a knowledge-based economy where higher education is a central pillar for sustainable economic growth.

EPP President Wilfried Martens strongly supports the EDS initiative: “the EPP believes that know-how in societies is central to economic growth and job creation, so we must create the best conditions for transforming them into knowledge-based societies. To reach this fundamental objective of the EPP, we strongly support investments in research and innovation. Ultimately, the economic success of Europe will be determined by the extent of the financial commitments allocated to these pivotal sectors of the economy. Europe must become a knowledge economy.”

This campaign is EDS’ first Internet based campaign and consists of several online films and an online petition available at eds-knowledge.eu. With the petition, the EDS wants to reach out to young Europeans and thereby send a bold signal to Europe’s policy makers that young people in today’s Europe believe that we have to invest more in Europe’s future.

So sign the petition, like on Facebook an follow on Twitter!

EDS is the official Student Organisation of the European People’s Party.

The Budget Axe Falls… on me

So I deliberately didn’t write about the budget yesterday. I was too annoyed and I would write the wrong thing. But today, I am a little calmer. This post is about how the budget affects me, expect broader posts as the week go on. Basically this is a rant!

Overall I am not happy with the budget. That is fairly obvious. While I myself am not massively hit straight away, my pay package from the 1st of January will be hit with the Universal Social Charge.

This budget also limits my choices in furthering my education. The €200 charge on Post Leaving Cert Courses means that it will cost in the region of €500 to do the course I was planning to do next year, which means I have to now reconsider my options. Is this what we want for our knowledge economy? One where people have to figure out whether they can attend college. The higher education student contribution of €2,000 rules out university for me.

Thankfully none of the other cuts will affect me in any major way. But I am annoyed with the cuts in pensions for those under 65, and the cuts in careers allowance and tax credits. How does that make it a progressive budget?

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Education Not Emigration

While watching the news tonight, my tune on the National March against the proposed increase in College fees changed. Some will call me, a mé féiner, but I think what the Government is proposing is idiotic.

Doubling the Registration Fee is stupid.

Cutting the Grant is stupid.

Placing a €500 fee on post leaving cert courses is stupid.

How are we supposed to afford an education in this county? Even a PLC?

We need to properly fund the education sector, but taxing students is not the way. Its time to look at other options. A graduate tax or other method that is fair and progressive needs to be be looked at. A student loan system would be as bad as this idea in my opinion.

So tell the government what you think.

March on November 3rd.

For more information see Educationnotemigration.ie

Check with your local Student Union about buses to the protest.

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Explaining the European Union to Students

Conseil de l'Europe
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Today I had the joy of joining members of the European Movement Ireland in part of their schools roadshow on the European Union. Today we visited Colaiste Mhuire in Crosshaven. Leading the show was Andrea Pappin, the Executive Director, and she was joined with by Billie Sparks, the Education and Advocacy Director. I stood quiet in the coner!

We were dealing with transition year students. Andrea started off the workshop by explaining about the history of the EU and the rights we have as EU citizens. She did all this in ordinary English!

Then the main part got under way. The class were split into four groups:

  • The European Commission
  • The European Parliament
  • Council of Ministers
  • Lobby Groups

The Council of Ministers were split between the French, Irish and Polish Delegations. The Lobby Groups were split into The Nuclear Energy Association, The Irish Gas Company, The Farmers Association of Ireland.

They were then, after watching a short video on Climate Change, tasked with drafting the EU’s Energy Policy. The Commission had to choose between which should compose the majority of the sources of Energy (Fossil, Renewable, Nuclear). Once they decided, it was sent to the Parliament who, after hearing from the Lobby Groups,  decided on the percentages for each type of energy. After that it was sent to the Council of Ministers who worked out any caveats and add ons to the law.

It was interesting to see how EU law was worked out in a simplified way. That is comparison to Conor’s experience at MEU!

The students seemed to have enjoyed it and I hope they learned from it. I know I did!

Well done to the European Movement for organising this. I hope more schools take them on this.

For more information of the European Movement, do check out their website. For more information on the Roadshows check out My Vision For Europe

Many thanks to the European Movement Ireland Team for allowing me to come along and experience this.

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The Other Workshops [ALF Forum 2010]

Poster in scout hall
Image by stephen.spillane via Flickr

Yesterday I posted that I was attending the Cities, Migrants and Diversity:  “Valuing Diversity, Understanding Migration” Workshop at the Anna Lindh Foundation Forum 2010, but today I have decided to tell you about the other Workshops available if you attend! It was a tough decision for me to make.

First up is Education, Intercultural Learning & Youth: “Learning to live together in diversity” This did intially appeal to me, considering my membership of Scouting Ireland, but in the end the other one stood out more. This Workshop will cover:

  • Intercultural dimension of the non-formal education in the Mediterranean context
  • Teacher trainings and other tools to deal with diversity
  • Youth policies for intercultural dialogue

It should be interesting.

Next up is Cultural & Artistic Collaborations: “Creativity for Dialogue”. Now because my interest in Art has been heightened, this one also appealed to me, but not as strongly.  This will cover:

  • Mobility as a pre-condition for intercultural dialogue and exchange
  • Networking: cultural platforms and networks
  • Translation and the challenge of understanding the other: the state of the art

The next choice is Creating Spaces of Peace and Co-existence: “Restore Trust, Rebuild Bridges”. Now this would be an interesting workshop. Now unfortunately I didn’t think I would be able to use what I would learn from it. This will cover:

  • Revitalize reconciliation processes and confidence building in conflict areas with intercultural and non-violent means
  • New patterns to deal with the social consequences of the economic crisis in multicultural contexts
  • Application of intercultural approaches for a culture of peace based on understanding, justice and respect
  • Follow-up of the ALF initiative “Restore Trust, Rebuild Bridges”

The next one is Religion, Spirituality and Values: “Inter-religious dialogue & common values for action”. This is currently an issue in Europe, and one I am interested in. How I would approach it would be difficult though. So hence why I didn’t pick it! This workshop will cover:

  • Educational professionals, civil society actors and religious leaders as active agents for the promotion of coexistence and interreligious respect
  • Spaces of encounter: dialogue and exchange between religious and secular communities
  • Developing working tools for inter-religious dialogue: trainings, mapping exercises and practices

And as a reminder the Cities, Migrants & Diversity: “Valuing Diversity, Understanding Migration” will cover:

  • – Migrations and mutual perceptions in the Mediterranean: challenging stereotypes
  • – Migrants and immigrated communities as key actors of development and intercultural action
  • – Intercultural approaches in dealing with strengthening social cohesion and solidarity in multicultural urban contexts

There are some really good chances to learn at this event. I hope to learn alot.

Don’t forget to check out the provisional programme for the Forum!

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Decisions, Decisions! [ALF Forum 2010]

{{w|Kindergarten}} on the Ministry of Agricult...
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If you intend on attending the Anna Lindh Forum 2010, you must register! The deadline is fast approaching by the way. You must register by 12th February 2010, 20.00 GMT.

As part of this process you must pick which workshop you want to attend in the Agora. The choice is from:

  • Education, Intercultural Learning and Youth: “Learning to live together in diversity”
  • Cultural & Artistic Collaborations: “Creativity for Dialogue”
  • Creating Spaces of Peace and Co-existence: “Restore Trust, Rebuild Bridges”
  • Cities, Migrants and Diversity: “Valuing Diversity, Understanding Migration”
  • Religion, spirituality and values: “Inter-religious dialogue and common values for action”

It was a fairly hard decision to make for me. Considering my past work on diversity and identity, I decided to go for the Cities, Migrants and Diversity workshop.  It will be about the following:

  • Migrations and mutual perceptions in the Mediterranean: challenging stereotypes
  • Migrants and immigrated communities as key actors of development and intercultural action
  • Intercultural approaches in dealing with strengthening social cohesion and solidarity in multicultural urban contexts

It should be interesting.

Of course in the medina there will be chances to find out more things and learns loads!

That consists of

  • Intercultural Fair
  • Best Practice
  • Project Ideas
  • Self-organized sessions (network and/ or partners’ meetings)
  • Artistic Exchange

Im getting really excited about it!

By the way if you wish to attend, these are the criteria you must fill:

he participants should:

  • be a resident in one of the 43 countries of the Union for the Mediterranean;
  • have knowledge/experience in at least one of the fields of the Anna Lindh Foundation;
  • be strongly motivated to encourage intercultural dialogue;
  • be able to communicate in English or French;
  • pay a participation fee (Euro 30 for ALF members; Euro 100 for non-members).

More information in the info pack (pdf)

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Abolishing NUI

National University of Ireland
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When I heard the news that Batt O’Keeffe was suggesting that that National University of Ireland be abolished, I initially thought it was a good idea. Then I stopped and thought about it and realised he must be reading from the same book that Enda was reading from!

Abolishing NUI is bad idea. Yes it will save money, but not a whole lot. The NUI serves some useful functions, and it would serve more if third level institutions were properly funded!

Todays Irish Times Editorial sets out some good reasons to why it shouldn’t be abolished, no matter what an Bord Snip Nua says. I cant help but agree!

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Argh Strikes!!!

So we were informed today in Class that our teachers are going on Strike next Tuesday. It turns out that teachers in Further Education Colleges, like Cork College of Commerce, are represented by the Teachers Union of Ireland, so they are going on strike for the day as they have handed notice into the VEC. They will be joining the other unions taking part in the National Strike on Tuesday 24th. Also clerical staff who’s union is one of the public service unions will be on strike. So it means no college for me on Tuesday.

Now this wouldn’t bother me much except next month I have two exemption exams in December which I must pass to get into 2nd Year of my course. One of these is in Criminal Law and on Tuesdays I have two classes of this subject and now I am missing out on it!! Its very annoying.

The announcement today brought me back to 2000/2001 and the ASTI teachers strike when I was doing my Junior Cert, now that didn’t bother me much back then, but now I am loosing out on a day when I could be doing projects on software I dont have at home, but have to use in college. Its fair annoying!

Unions seem to be out to get me!

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Getting rid of the Junior Cert?

Today’s Sunday Tribune has an article suggesting that the Junior Certificate exams could be “axed to save €30”. Is that really a good idea though?

While the Junior Cert isn’t really worth much on its own, it is a valuable testing ground for students and a practice for the Leaving Cert. I know the tests and that are shoter for the Junior Cert, but if we abolish it, students wouldnt have a clue what to expect going into the Leaving Cert.

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment has been sent off to a report, and it is due to report back before the end of the year. Will this report be implemented or will it be sidelined like all the others?

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Blogger Training?

Until this week I didn’t know there was such a thing as blogger training (that wasn’t aimed at companies and such) but a friend send me information about the Hyperlink Project from The Euromed Anna Lindh Foundation for Dialogue between Cultures. Part of this project is “the ALF Euromed Bloggers Training on Intercultural Dialogue”. This will take place on the sidelines of the campaign Restore Trust – Rebuild Bridges which was launched by the Anna Lindh Foundation and the Alliance of Civilizations to encourage a culture of peace and coexistence in the Euro-Mediterranean Region.

Only 20 bloggers from the Euromed region (which is 43 countries) and today I received my invitation to Phase one of the project today! It takes place in July , in Luxembourg.

What is involved in the training?

The training will be delivered by two highly professional trainers, one from the north and one from the south of the region. The methodology of the training will try to combine  between plenary informative presentations, tools and games used in non-formal education on intercultural dialogue, and working groups to design the online campaign. The training will also include a Cultural Night where the participants will have the opportunity to discover each others cultures more closely. There will be also a Blog Souk where the participants can present there blogs and there blogging experiences and how intercultural dialogue is treated in their local blogs.

It looks like its going to be really fun and interesting.

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