MoNE Undersecretary Yusuf Tekin, who attended the International Conference “Turkey and EU Common Values: Reflections on the Education System-2” organised by General Directorate of EU and Foreign Relations of MonE, reminded the audience that Europe is entrusted with protecting the common values in the name of humanity and said that “Notions like democracy, human rights, state of law are common accretion of humanity. The EU is one of its protectors. Teaching these values that are accretion of humanity to our children is our goal”.

Opening speeches of the Conference were given by MoNE Undersecretary Yusuf Tekin; Counsellor François Begeot, Head of Economic and Social Development, Delegation of the EU to Turkey; and General Director of EU and Foreign Relations Funda Kocabıyık.

Undersecretary Tekin said that values come out in geographical places, however, these geographical places change during the course of time; Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Middle East, America, and Europe host this accretion and as the common accretion changes place, it is the one that protects it that at whichever geography the dominant force of that period is being constructed.

Tekin expressed that as the Ministry, they initiated Students Learning about the EU Project at a time when public support for EU membership was in a decline and they acted keeping in mind that people behave timidly in the face of the truth that they don’t know. They took the first steps with enthusiasm of students’ learning about the EU. Tekin mentioned that Students Learning about the EU Project’s only aim is not to contribute to the accession process and reminded the audience that it was two basic parameters for students to learn the EU in terms of both institutional structure and the values.

Deputy Head of Delegation Gabriel Munuera Vinals from Delegation of the EU to Turkey also gave an opening speech. He expressed that the EU is much more than a common and single market, and the EU is providing freedoms and rights in their largest scope and getting even larger. Vinals said that “Turkey is also a part of the EU. The EU brings together many countries with different customs. The EU will be successful as we share these common values. Turkey is getting closer to the EU”.

 “Democracy is an indication of the act that everybody’s rights will be respected”

Vinals expressed that story and quiz competitions that were previously carried out by the Delegation of EU to Turkey had already brought thousands of students together and with Students Learning about the EU Project another step has been taken. With additional slogan and painting competitions, awareness of students, families, teachers, and related target groups is raised.

Vinals ended his speech with those words: “We have to work for cooperation with others. Democracy is an indication of the act that everybody’s rights will be respected”.

Funda Kocabıyık, General Director of EU and Foreign Relations, reminded the audience that the aim of Students Learning about the EU Project is to raise awareness and knowledge level of the society about common values of the EU and fundamental rights. She stated that they have finished many activities targeting secondary school teachers and students during two years of the project. Kocabıyık said that the most important focus of the Project, which is going to end in December 2016, is EU common values and fundamental rights. She went on saying “These values had not came into existence with and are not exclusive to the EU. They are universal values which all civilized world accepts and give a place at their national policies. They are values like human rights, democracy, rule of law, justice, freedom of expression, gender equality, rights of children, environmental rights, urban rights, which are required to be recognized as a human being and a civilized society. Those values have meaning as they are internalized by the society and used at everyday lives.”

“National policies and implementations must include common values”

Kocabıyık said that one of the activities carried out in order to acquainting the target groups with the importance of these universal values was to conduct international conferences to think and discuss on methods of transferring common values and fundamental rights to the education system. “When we mention mainstreaming, which is also a part of the title, we are talking about coalescing common values and fundamental rights with policies and their implementations, preparation and structuring of policy texts and implementations in a way including these values. This year, we will be discussing how we can use creative drama, which is a successful pedagogic method used in all around the world, in affirmation of common values”.

Many EU and education experts coming from both Europe and Turkey participated at the second international conference with the title of “Turkey and EU Common Values: Reflections on the Education System-2” that is conducted within the scope of the Students Learning about the EU Project, which is carried out by the Ministry of National Education. Conference took place between 16 and 17 November and it was focused on how education and creative drama can become a tool in increasing awareness of the society about EU’s common values.

The first of the key note speeches was given by Lida Kita, Expert on Turkey and Israel from European Training Foundation with the title of “The Methods for the Mainstreaming of the Common Values in Education”. Kita expressed that within the framework of the EU, it is very important to have education on human rights and this isn’t based only on schooling but also non-formal and formal training.

The second key note speech was given by Senior Education Expert Anders Nils Henrick Lönnqvist. The title of the speech was “EU Common Values from an EU Citizen’s Point of View” and he assessed EU values as a Finnish. “Cultural diversity, equity, democracy, and rule of law in fact summarizes fundamental values of this project. To understand and implement these, skill, knowledge and understanding are needed. Approach is required. We can call it framework of EU qualification.”

Prof. Öcal Oğuz, Chairman of the UNESCO Turkey Board of Directors, gave the third key note speech with the title of “Why Common Values are Important in Our Daily Lives?”. Oğuz said that “We have to think about values not as something coming from the West to the East but as an interactive entity, both of them together. Then it is possible to include them in dramas. To think of diversity as something respectable also makes it necessary to assess them together. If value is not included in social life, then transfer of that value fails”.

At the afternoon program of the Conference’s first day, Prof. Tülin Sağlam from Department of Theatre, Faculty of Languages, History and Geography, Ankara University, gave a speech titled “How We Can Mainstream the Common Values via Creative Drama”. Following that, psychological counsellor and creative drama expert Yılmaz Erdal gave his speech with the title of “The Pedagogical Benefits of the Mainstreaming the Common Values via Creative Drama”.

“How can we use creative drama in teaching the common values?”

The second day of the Conference continued with study groups through which participants could contribute actively. At the four parallel study groups, it was focused on democracy, equality, social inclusion and human rights. Groups worked on the contents of these common values and on how to convey them by using creative drama techniques. Moderations of these study groups were made by Assoc. Prof. Zafer Çelik, Department of Sociology, Yıldırım Beyazıt University; Assoc. Prof. Burcu Sümer and Asst. Prof. Oğuzhan Taş, Faculty of Communication, Ankara University; and Asst. Prof Erhan Akdemir, Deputy Manager of EU Research Centre, Anadolu University. At the final panel where outcomes of study groups were discussed, along with the moderators, also Prof. Tülin Sağlam and psychological counsellor and creative expert Yılmaz Erdal took part in discussions. Moderation of the final panel was made by Assoc. Prof. Erdem Denk, Deputy Manager of ATAUM, Ankara University. Closure speech of the conference was given by MoNE Deputy Undersecretary Ercan Demirci.

“We desire continuation of these kinds of works”

Demirci said: “Conference is ended with worthy contributions. I hope those outcomes like both projects and activities are carried on and brought to life. In line with our State’s 50 years of inclination, we give importance also to inclination towards the EU and keep the flame alive. This work is a full stop of a sentence, and I wish the result brought by this sentence will take us to the writing of the paragraph, the page, the book.”

Representatives and General Directors from 81 Provincial Directorates of National Education, Ministry staff, and representatives from related institutions attended the conference that was held in Ankara Limak Ambassador Hotel.

With its long name, Technical Assistance for Students Learning about the EU Common Values, Fundamental Rights and Policies, is a project that is implemented between December 2014 and December 2016 with a budget of 3 million and 256 thousand Euro consisting of many activities, among these the most important ones being quiz, painting, slogan, and short-story competitions, to create awareness about the EU.