Drama Improves Lisbon Key Competences in Education

Kinga Gál

Keynote speech of
Kinga Gál, Vice-Chair of Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, European Parliament
DICE conference, European Parliament, Brussels
25th October 2010

First of all, I had a task, I was asked to welcome you all here. I heard that you are here from more than fifteen countries, representing international organizations. I’ve heard that we have some professors among us from several Universities and, most important, we have teachers among us, and let me greet also the organizers of this event.

I do think that your project Drama Improves Lisbon Key Competencies in Education is an excellent one. And I don’t say that just as mere courtesy, but, after having read the materials you sent me to prepare for this conference, I really think that it merits some words, it merits attention, and our work and task here today is, to try to raise awareness of drama, to try and send your messages for drama into the different Committees of the Parliament, and of course, towards the Commission and, if possible, towards the member states.

So, if you would have asked me about this DICE project or the effects of the educational theatre a couple of months ago, I couldn’t answer any project-related questions. But, after having read this, I realised that I am very familiar with what you are doing, because I am a mother of four children, and each of my children, thanks to the Hungarian educational system, got this kind of education. And all of them had, during the first five years, drama lessons at school, and we both, parents and children, enjoyed them very much, and I have to tell you that there are excellent Hungarian textbooks on this, so that I can say that I am happy that Hungary took the leading role in this project, and I am also greeting partners in this project, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Norway, Palestine, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden and United Kingdom.
I myself was very surprised at the result of the project, which is covering the experience and this was quite striking: more than 4500 children and covering 12 countries. I think this is very important. I think that, as a member of LIBE Committee, a committee which is dealing with the civic rights of the citizens in the European Union, and also member of the sub-committee of human rights of the European Parliament, which is dealing with human rights, civil rights of those who live in third countries, so outside the Union, and, being also the chair of inter-group for traditional minorities, from this perspective, it was really interesting to read from the list of effects on the participating children, that after these lessons the children were more tolerant to both minorities and foreigners, that they are more active citizens, show more interest in voting at any level, show more interest in participating in public issues, and show more dedication towards their future and have more plans.

When we are discussing the future of Europe, and whenever you go to any of these committees in the Parliament or the plenary meeting, you will hear about the Europe 2020, about the big ideas and we still are searching where to start, and I think you already found the answer. It’s exactly what the future of Europe needs of the children: being more active citizens, being more conscious, European conscious citizens, or being more tolerant towards their neighbours, even if they are coming from a national minority background, or speak regional languages, or they live in the neighbourhoods where there are plenty of immigrants.

Further on, being the one who believes that families are, or should be one of the most important connections, I was happy to see that educational theatre and drama has even an effect on the family life, as participating children, (as I followed from your documents) do more for their families, are more likely to have a part-time job, and spend more time being creative, either alone or in a group, they more frequently go to the theatre, exhibitions and museums, and the cinema, and go hiking and biking more often, so they are more open to their surrounding, and also they feel better at home. I think that’s what we need in Europe: citizens who have the backgrounds [shown] here. And I think the most decisive years are the years spent in education, and there the bases have been done. So, if we get children who can care more for their surroundings, who can care more for their families, and who can live more as an active citizen, that’s what can have an active, positive result for Europe by 2020.

I do believe that the consequent usage of educational theatre and drama would result in much more tolerant children, so much more tolerant adults in Europe. So, as I already mentioned, at the very beginning, I think that it’s very important to disseminate the results of the project among the members of this Parliament, especially those, who are working in the Culture Committee, in the Employment Committee, or in the LIBE Committee where I come from, and I do advise you, as I will do myself, to raise awareness in the European Commission, I do advise you to turn to the Directory-General for Education and Culture, to ask them to consider the result of the Policy Paper in policy making. But this is only the one side of the coin.

On the other side, most important side, is the national level: that the national decision-makers should be aware of what effects, of what outcomes this project had, what could be done when this can be involved in the national curriculum, as we see it in the case of many schools in Hungary. I do think that it would be an excellent idea that this project should reach the decision-makers in the member states; that seminars, information campaigns should be organized, but not only for the decision-makers, but also for parents and children in school open days and for teachers in many schools.

I think that, whatever challenge we are facing now, and we know it’s not only economic, it’s much more social and it’s much more about whether our values, our ideas could survive. I think that Europe will face these challenges only if we start to change something around and within our children. And I do think that this project, the DICE project is one of the existing and available tools to change something around them, within our children, so therefore I wish you all the best. For the project, I congratulate the organizers and everybody who was involved, and I can assure all the guests here that I will do my best to support your conception. Thank you.      

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