Logo European Masonic Alliance
Logo European Masonic Alliance


The role of education in training European citizens
Conference of Lausanne, November 13, 2015

In order to propose valid solutions, it is important to first define the current situation of education in Europe. In a number of European countries, the influence of private education on society is much greater than that of public education, too often devalued in its perception and financially disadvantaged.This private education, generally more elitist, is supported, more or less visibly, by one of the fundamental religions, which unfortunately leads too often to the lack of education for tolerance and openness to the other currents of thought of its young students.

Freemasonry is and has always been active in the defense of public education, more egalitarian and open to all. But we must ask ourselves whether education, as it was and is still designed today, enables young people to face the challenges of the world of tomorrow. We can only see an "aculturisation" of society, and more particularly young people, accentuated by the uncontrolled use of the Internet. In addition, the competitive side of our teaching, with winners and losers as a result, goes against what a "European conscience" should be.

While we can see in Europe a 3.2% drop in education budgets, which is also stigmatized by a European report, we will have to face in the long term 3 million new European citizens, carriers of different religious values. Faced with this evolution of society, which worries many people of the Union, many member countries seem less and less willing to put aside their Christian culture, which explains the emergence of traditionalist movements stemming from this movement, opposed to any other form of religion.

However, when the socio-cultural level is low, the religious roots of the society of origin, present at the educational, cultural and family levels can not be neglected because their influence on the formation of children remains pre-eminent.

It is therefore imperative to review our teaching which must be much more focused on openness to others and acceptance of their differences. For this purpose, Luxembourg has devised an interesting method. For the last three years, a system of "sociological secularization" has been set up with a clear separation of teaching on the one hand and education on the other because their objectives are different. Teaching must provide "technical knowledge" and is delivered by "traditional" teachers.

Education must learn the "how to be". It is the role of specialized educators through several channels: sport, the history of all religions, morality versus citizenship, European ideals and finally, the organization of family life on the one hand and community life on the other hand through meetings and activities with children from other origins, attending other schools.

This system is applied until the age of 15 years. Mornings are devoted to theoretical education and afternoons to these education classes. The family is involved in the educational component because it is imperative that it also be trained to understand the European values ​​that are instilled in their children so that they integrate without having to to oppose and without creating conflicts within the family space. This method, besides instilling in young people a civic conscience, is the basis and the cement of the development of a European identity.

To guarantee the respect of the beliefs or the philosophies of each one, an education open to the other, relying on the notion of secularity is thus indispensable. The conclusions of the Maalouf report "A salutary challenge: how the multiplicity of languages ​​could consolidate Europe (Brussels 2008)" are enlightening and need to be implemented. The European Union should also issue an opinion for the member states emphasizing the need for education to actively fight against fundamentalism, fundamentalism and radicalization. This obviously implies the abandonment of the concept of Christian Europe, totally outdated at the moment but still unfortunately supported by many states. The valorization of the concept of secularism, supporting the triptych Education - Family - Teaching is essential to progress in this way of understanding the other, this understanding creating tolerance.

The writing of a book on the history of Europe since the beginning of its construction could also be useful for the training of European citizens. It would show young people the path they have