OPENING CONFERENCE: PLURILINGUAL POLICY EXPERIMENTATION (PLE) in the context of Romania
Despite the Council of Europe’s decades-long engagement with Romani issues, the educational inclusion of Romani children and adolescents continues to present major challenges. Successive recommendations from the Committee of Ministers are clear about the political principles and social values that should shape policy, and equally clear about the outcomes that policy implementation should achieve. Only very few of them, however, concern themselves with those aspects of policy that shape classroom practice. In 2018-19 a Council of Europe expert group set out to elaborate more detailed guidance, proposing new ways of managing the educational inclusion of Romani children and adolescents. The group’s proposals, which have implications for the educational inclusion of other linguistic and cultural minorities, are based on the Council of Europe’s concept of plurilingual and intercultural education, which is the focus of the Recommendation recently approved by the Committee of Ministers.
The policy experimentation
The purpose of the policy experimentation is to test these practical proposals and refine them in the light of experience. Currently in preparation, the experimentation will run for three school years (2022–23, 2023¬–24 and 2024–25) and will involve four or five primary schools in three Council of Europe member states: Greece, Slovakia and Slovenia. The experimentation is managed by a steering group that comprises Council of Europe experts led by Professor David Little (Ireland), three national co-ordinators, and representatives of the ministries of education in the participating countries. In participating classrooms, the experimentation will be shaped by two principles that are fundamental to the Council of Europe’s work in language education: (i) language learners of all ages are also language users, social agents with an agenda to fulfil; and (ii) language education should take account of all the languages present in a particular educational context and help learners to develop integrated plurilingual repertoires.
Timea Junghaus, ERIAC Executive Director, was one of the speakers at the opening remarks.