Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, launched the Erasmus+ programme on the 12th of March 2014 in Budapest, on the opening conference organized by Tempus Public Foundation and the National Institute of Family and Social Policy. The conference was opened by Mr. Zoltán Balog, Minister of Human Resources. A welcome note was given by Péter Tordai, Director of Tempus Public Foundation, and Gergely Máté, deputy director of the Youth in Action Programme Office of the National Institute of Family and Social Policy.
Erasmus + is the European Union’s new funding programme for education, training, youth and sport, for the budget of 2014-2020. It brings together 7 previous lifelong learning programmes of the EU: Comenius, Leonardo, Erasmus, Grundtvig, Jean Monnet and transversal programmes, with a simplified administration, and unified tender procedures. The new programme supports three types of tenders: individual mobility, transnational partnerships, innovation and good practices, and national efforts to modernize education policy. The seven year programme will have a budget of €14.7 billion, and not only EU member states, but also organizations from third countries will have the opportunity to apply for it.
If the European Union has any meaning – and it has– then citizen-centered, youth-oriented Erasmus +, which invests in the future is its meaning – said Minister Zoltán Balog. The new programme puts an emphasis on social inclusion and vocational training, and these priorities are in accordance with Hungarian efforts. Our goal is to provide a higher education of such quality which can then provide training and researcher job opportunities, so that the most talented youth stay in their country of origin. Talking about teacher training, Mr. Balog draw attention to the Klebelsberg Grant by which the government support students in education faculties who chose a shortage field (for example Physics and Mathematics), and who are willing to teach in Hungary once they finish their degree. Mobility grants of Erasmus+ allow Hungarian higher education to develop in line with the international mainstream.
According to European Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou, the creation of an open, fair, democratic and dynamic society starts in the classroom, with the help of the right teachers. Too few people benefit from the advantages of our globalized world, and this can be changed by raising skills. Erasmus+ will involve 4 million youth. Its goals are to reduce the number of early school leavers, to improve literacy and foreign language competences, to support better use of information communication technology in education, to improve quality of vocational training, to provide financial support for a master’s degree abroad and to support closer cooperation between higher education and the job market.
Péter Tordai provided an overview on statistics of previous mobility programmes related to Hungary, whereas Gergely Máté explained how Erasmus+ is different and better than lifelong learning programmes so far.
After the plenary session, participants in previous European mobility programmes shared their experiences. During the afternoon session, five different workshops ran simultaneously, organized around the topics of student-centered pedagogy, problems and potential solutions of training and occupation, internationalization and modernization of Hungarian higher education, reducing the number of low-skilled adults and democratic participation. Three researchers from the Hungarian Institute for Educational Research and Development participated in the work of the thematic sessions: Mária Szabó, Attila Varga and György Mártonfi.