Ministerialrat Siegmut Keller
Ministerium für Kultus, Jugend und Sport Baden-Württemberg
Dear Mrs. Gsell,
Dear guests from Finland, Spain, Portugal, the Czech Republic and Poland,
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a great pleasure for me to take part in this event today, the presentation of two projects in vocational education within the framework of the Erasmus+ Programme of the EU! Thank you for the invitation! I would like to welcome you on behalf of the Ministry of Education and to convey greetings and best wishes of our Minister, Dr. Susanne Eisenmann. I hope you all, and especially our guests from all over Europe had already a good week here in Stuttgart.
First of all, congratulations to all the project partners and all the teachers and people who contributed to make these projects a success. One – Learn IT – finishes now, the other one – MICA – still goes on for one more year.
The month of May is traditionally the European month! This week we had an impressive European event for students from schools all over BW in the regional Parliament of the federal state in Stuttgart, bringing students and politicians together on Monday, we celebrated the winners of the European competition on Tuesday, the Europa Zentrum BW had its 40th anniversary, this was celebrated yesterday with EU Commissioner Oettinger and the Minister for European Affairs Guido Wolf, on Friday we have the so called EU – Action Day at the Stuttgarter Schlossplatz with members of the European Parliament and today the Max-Eyth-Schule presents its projects within the EU-Programme Erasmus+. So this date you chose, 11th May, fits perfectly in the series of European events during this week and during this month.
Let me make a few general remarks as far as the EU is concerned. Today it seems that many people have lost their enthusiasm and confidence when it comes to the European Union, high unemployment rates especially among young people in some southern European states, Brexit, the banking crisis, the refugee crisis and so on. On the other hand there are very positive signals as well, when we think of the elections in the Netherlands and very recently in France and when we think of the growing number of people demonstrating in favour of the European idea at the market places on Sundays throughout the country. Schools, education and vocational training play a decisive role as far as the attitude of young people towards Europe is concerned. Teachers lay the foundation of interest for European questions and how the EU functions. They discuss the risks and threats and they can show the chances the European Union offers. Many years ago the Frenchman and entrepreneur Jean Monnet, who is often regarded as “Father of the European Union”, said: “We do not unify single states, we bring people together”. One thing is clear: A common European spirit and a European identity do not only come out of the study of textbooks at school. It needs more than that!
The basic idea of the Erasmus programme and I think the most important one is: Bringing young people from different European states together and make them work on a common project over two or three years. This is exactly what you do at the Max-Eyth-Schule! The Erasmus-Program of the EU becomes 30 years old in 2017. There are no more passionate, more dedicated and more convinced ambassadors for the European idea than those young people who have experienced themselves working and studying together with other young people from other European states, getting to know each other, and learning about their different cultures and at the same time about their common heritage. You in the Max-Eyth-Schule together with other vocational colleges in Finland, Portugal, Spain, the Czech Republic and Poland have provided young people with this unique possibility. The Max-Eyth-Schule in particular has a long tradition and an excellent reputation as far as international cooperation is concerned. You can only offer something like that when you have a team in a school with a headmaster or headmistress and with colleagues who are highly motivated to offer their students such international learning opportunities.
Let me express my special thanks to all of you who have made this possible! One of the aims of the Erasmus+ programme is to increase the rate of mobility among young people who are trained for a profession. We all know that the rate of student exchange at universities is much higher, 15 to 20 percent of students at universities spend some weeks, half a year or even a year abroad. With the globalization of the economy it becomes for trainees, for young people doing an apprenticeship, also absolutely important to get international experience. And, by the way, measures like this make our dual system of training more attractive for young people. We often criticize the European Union, but I think this opportunity is something very special. On the level of the Ministry of Education we have close relations to the states of Georgia and North Carolina in the USA. I have visited technical colleges in North Carolina who provide the workforce and the skilled workers for their state. They are very interested in getting into contact with us and learning from each other. Sometimes I wish we had a similar programme for the exchange of trainees with the US or with Canada.
There are many more bureaucratic obstacles for such exchanges which makes it very difficult or nearly impossible to build up exchange programmes for young people in training. I think in this respect we can be really happy with the Erasmus programme. We are not so happy with the application procedure. At the moment we have mainly grammar schools and vocational schools in the Erasmus programme. We used to have also primary schools and even institutions of early childhood education, years ago. To apply now is really hard work, you need much time and al lot of experience to fill in these application forms. To make this easier is something we try to reach together with other states for a future programme. The aim should be that all types of schools can participate! I think now we are all looking forward to the presentation of the results of your projects. My special thanks once again to the teams and to the colleagues of the schools involved and to all the associated partners, companies and the Chambers of Commerce.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me finish with a remark of our Minister for European affairs, Guido Wolf. He said on Monday in our regional Parliament: “Europe´s future needs young and fresh faces, young people who give the old European treaties new life, who fill them with passion and engagement!”
I am convinced these people are here today! All the best for your projects!
Bleiben Sie dem Erasmus+ – Programm treu! Der neue Antragstermin ist im März 2018!