The words which express the essential aims of the European Schools have been sealed, in parchment, into the foundation stones of all the schools: “Educated side by side, untroubled from infancy by divisive prejudices, acquainted with all that is great and good in the different cultures, it will be borne in upon them as they mature that they belong together. Without ceasing to look to their own lands with love and pride, they will become in mind Europeans, schooled and ready to complete and consolidate the work of their fathers before them, to bring into being a united and thriving Europe.”
official educational establishments controlled jointly by the governments of the Member States of the European Union governed by the Intergovernmental Protocol ratified by the national authorities of the signatory countries
There are currently fourteen Schools in seven countries (Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Spain and Luxembourg) with a total of approximately 22.500 pupils : Four in Brussels : Uccle, Woluwe, Ixelles and Laeken (actually on the site of Berkendael ), Alicante, Frankfurt am Main, Mol, Bergen, Karlsruhe, Munich, Varese, Culham, Luxembourg (I & II).
Brussels I, Uccle : 3.154 * Brussels II, Woluwe : 3.124 * Brussels III, Ixelles : 2.925 * Brussels IV, Laeken : 805 * Total : 10.008 students 15 different linguistic groups shared out according to the schools. About 36% follow the Catholic religion course, 19% Protestant religion, 3% Orthodox, 1% Jewish, 1% Islamic and 40% the course of non-confessional ethics. A course on Buddhism has been started two years ago in Brussels III for some students. *estimates for September 2010
The schools depend on a Board of Governors composed of a representative from each of the member countries of the European Union, a representative from the European Commission and a representative from the European office of Certification for the European school in Munich. Since 1986, the ordinaries of the places of each European school who have authority in the matter of teaching catholic religion, are represented on the Board of Governors by the COMECE for everything which is common to all European schools : status of the teachers and religion class, curriculum, regulations, …
to give pupils confidence in their own cultural identity – the bedrock for their development as European citizens; to provide a broad education of high quality, from nursery level to university-entrance; to develop high standards in the mother tongue and in foreign languages; to develop mathematical and scientific skills throughout the whole period of schooling; to encourage a European and global perspective overall and particularly in the study of the human sciences;
to encourage creativity in music and the plastic arts and an appreciation of all that is best in a common European artistic heritage; to develop physical skills and instill in pupils an appreciation of the need for healthy living through participation in sporting and recreational activities; to offer pupils professional guidance on their choice of subjects and on career/university decisions in the later years of the secondary school; to foster tolerance, co-operation, communication and concern for others throughout the school community and beyond; to cultivate pupils’ personal, social and academic development and to prepare them for the next stage of education.
1. the study of a first foreign language (English, French or German), known as L II, is compulsory throughout the school, from the first primary class; 2. all pupils must study a second foreign language (L III), starting in the second year of secondary school; 3. Language classes are taught by native speakers and composed of mixed nationalities. Also for art, musical and physical education classes; 4. From the third class of secondary school, history and geography are studied in the pupil’s first foreign language. Economics, as option from the fourth class, also.
Basic instruction is given in the official languages of the European Union. This principle allows the primacy of the pupil’s mother tongue (L1) to be safeguarded. Consequently, each school comprises several language sections. The curricula and syllabuses (except in the case of mother tongue) are the same in all sections.
1958 : Pierre van Stappen, Belgian Jesuit priest, set up the association of the Foyer catholique européen for the pastoral needs from the European civil servants 1962 : at the request of Cardinal Suenens, Archbishop of Brussels-Malines, an international team of Jesuit took charge of the pastoral care of the families of the students of the European schools 1987 : the responsibility for catholic religion teaching in the European schools in entrust to a layperson : Catherine Roba. 1989 : Cardinal Daneels confirmed the mission entrusted to the Society of Jesus.
49 teachers from 11 different nationalities (among them one Jesuit, Father Jean Beckers, and one Dominican). All of them are employed part time by the Head of each school after nomination by the local religious authority who have delegate power to the responsible for catholic religion teaching. Some of them teach in two or three even four schools.
The proposal coming from the Gospel and from Christ invites everyone : To commit oneself in active life, by integrating one’s Christian faith into choices and personal decisions, To unite struggle and contemplation by putting one’s confidence in God present in all things, To awake particular attention to those most in need.
Like other schools, the European schools are confronted with problems related to youth : Drugs, violence, isolation, significant diminishment of religious practice. The evangelization of young people is more and more necessary because the teaching of religion is no longer addressed, for most part, to Christians and for those who are more committed the purely academic aspect of the teaching does not answer their expectations. It help to maintain a certain religious culture, a moral teaching and a contact with the young people and their families, but it must be completed by educative activities. The specificity of the European schools is an opportunity to transmit the universal (and therefore European) dimension of the Church. There a need o multiply the occasions for meetings with the local church and the possibilities of religious experiences. The different linguistic groups need to have their own pastoral reference points and occasional celebrations which are sign of Gospel unity.