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Month: March 2019

Mobility of Apprentices in Europe – A contribution to youth employment and competitiveness of businesses

We wish we had the chance to share the opinion of parents on mobility at the event jointly organised by the European Parliament and European Commission.

Based on our survey among parents, taken at the time of the half-time evaluation of the Erasmus+ program, parents wanted to see the mobility grants to be reduced, as they thought it is not an effective way of spending public money. However, in general, they would welcome increasing the Erasmus+ budget, if it is spent in a more effective way.

It also came out very clearly of the survey, that parents feel that in this form the mobility program does not turn out for the benefit of their children, as almost every child loses a semester, as even if there is an agreement between the sending and receiving universities, the children can only register for a very limited amount of courses, and the credits earned are very often not accepted at the sending university. In this form it is more a fun, language learning trip at best for students, coming from wealthier families, as the financial support is not enough for covering the expenses. While the Erasmus+ mobility is now very well known, the parents are not happy with it, as it is very expensive for them and they do not see the educational benefits.

Based on the experiences in the Erasmus+ program offered by university students, we call for learning from the lessons. Parents should be actively involved in creating the mobility program for VET students, in order to create an offer, that is available for not only the wealthy families and has educational value. The financial support should be high enough to cover all costs. There should be possibilities for all students to get free language education, that enables them to be mobile.

At the event, there were some suggestions on first sending the apprentices for only a short time abroad. We strongly oppose it knowing how dissatisfied parents are at the moment, and we would rather aim for paying more attention to preparation.

Once the program is created by channeling in the opinion and input of parents as well, it also needs to be advertised to parents as well, not only to the students. Stichting Parents Alliance would be happy to help in the engagement of parents, and make mobility programmes more inclusive and ensure good learning outcomes of these activities. Parents should not only be involved in general, but also on the level of every single pupil and student.

IPA already made a pledge, we are ready to:

  • develop, pilot and offer a practical training on the implementation of the Parental Engagement Guidelines in VET and Apprenticeships published in the first months of 2018;
  • develop and make contact methodology available for VET and apprenticeship providers to ensure getting parents on board at the enrolment stage in order to build a basis for parental engagement;
  • collect and share testimonials from parents of VET students and apprentices and people who changed from academic to VET pathways in order to highlight the benefits of such pathways.

Parents are the main decision makers, and as per the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, they have the sole responsibility of education of their children under 18. Therefore, first the parents need to be convinced about the value and opportunities in VET.

In order to work for the best interest of their children, they need information, presented in a structured, understandable and convincing way. Parents need to have support from the early age of the child, so they can parent them in an open way, teaching them mobility, and the value of VET.

Education and training systems should be providing equitable learning environments for all children/young people and their parents, a free and informed choice for parents of the education of their children. This choice should never be restricted by the financial capacity of the family.

At most families, the goal is upwards mobility, and often the children are pressured to go to university, even when their interests or skills would suggest otherwise, stakeholders should work on making VET more attractive. This should be done, by involving the parents, so their concerns, questions and criticism is integrated and used in the development procedures. Parents with VET education, young people participating in VET or their parents can provide guidance for families of young people before making a decision on their education and be a great source of feedback on VET.


Zero Project Conference


This year the Zero Project Conference took place on the 20-22th February 2019, in Vienna at the United Nations Office. The topic of the year was “Independent living and political participation” again, after dealing with it in 2015 for the first time. The conference is organized each year by the Essl Foundation MGE gemeinnützige Privatstiftung, an Austrian foundation established in 2007 by Martin and Gerda Essl, and their children, for social purposes and scientific research. Its mission is to support social innovation, social entrepreneurship and persons with disabilities(PWD). The Essl Foundation is an organization in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations since 2014 (ECOSOC status), Member of the European Foundation Centre (EFC) and founding member of the Austrian Verband für gemeinnütziges Stiften.


The main goal of the event is to help support the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, worldwide. The conference participants came from more than 70 countries, many of them living with disabilities themselves. The organizers do their best each year to make the event as impactful, inclusive and accessible as possible. The entire venue was barrier free, has tactile flooring,  almost each sessions were translated to international sign language, they provided written captions during keynote talks, and many volunteers were ready to help those who required it.


The conference consisted of a variety of formats, that  included plenary and workshop sessions, an exhibition and the Award Ceremony. A high number of speakers, representatives of Innovative Practices and Policies were invited to present, discuss and inspire, jointly with world leaders from all sectors of society, for example HRH Prince Mired Raad Zeid Al-Hussein or Senator Tom Harkin, with and without disabilities. Keynote speakers included high level representatives from International Organizations, leading managers from multinational companies such as Microsoft, representatives from leading NGOs, self-representatives, entrepreneurs, and many more.


Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Chief Accessibility Officer of Microsoft talked about how important it is to realize and embrace the skills people with disabilities have, and that companies should accommodate their different needs already in the hiring processes, in order not to waste their talents. has helped create a hiring program through which the company identifies and trains people with autism. She ran the first pilot program in 2015 and has since scaled it, holding it four times a year. Lay-Flurrie, who is deaf, has also chaired Microsoft’s Disability Employee Resource Group, and in 2014 was named a “Champion of Change” by the White House for her work. She also talked about how accommodating the needs of people with disabilities in everyday life, would also help others. For example, creating barrier-free buildings, are also a great help, for parents with a pram, or easy to read texts, for migrants who struggle with a language.


Tuomas Tuure, from the Finnish “The Threshold Association” talked about the importance of teaching PWD about their rights, and to respect their decision making capability. He and his organization are trying to fight the traditional paternalistic approach, and instead work with their clients as equal partners.


IPA is also involved in working with families of POW. Check out the ELPIDA project, and the online course.


Reconceptualising Early Childhood Literacies

The teams of the DigiLitEY COST Action and MakEY Horizon 2020 research projects met for an international conference in Manchester on 7/8 March 2019. The event marked the end of DigiLit EY, but hopefully it was also the first step of further exploring the topic of literacies, especially digital practices of young children and their families. Some of the research presented at the Manchester conference will also be presented to the participants of our Parent Summit in November. The Think Tank Parents International’s Director was a member of proudly presented our Smart Parenting in the Digital Age publication.

Digital technology is part of today’s children’s lives from the first month. In DigiLitEY we followed up research and worked for supporting parents in introducing healthy digital practices, to counterbalance the media focus on risks and help them find a right balance to make the most of digital opportunities taking into consideration their children’s needs and rights.

This exciting conference brought together researchers from across the world, with keynote speakers from the USA, Canada and Australia, who are interested in the ways in which early childhood literacies are being transformed in the twenty-first century.  Keynote speakers presented creative approaches to today’s challenges that include rapid developments in digital technologies and increasing standardisation in early childhood curricula.

In the workshop sessions some interesting research results were presented, and we have invited researchers from Portugal, Estonia, Israel, Australia and the UK to present their parent-related research at the Parent Summit. These papers covered topics around parents’ general literacies and digital practices, sharenting (sharing by parents) practices, and family life research on daily use of digital technology in the age range 0 to 8.

The DigiLitEY and Makey programmes are in the forefront of research into the lives of young children and those who work, live and learn with them.  The event’s third sponsor, the Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, is also associated with recognising creativity, diversity and social justice.

The Smart Parenting Guide can be downloaded here: We would like to make it available in as many languages as possible, so we are inviting vonunteer translators. The Hungarian and Romanian versions will already be downloadable in a few days.

Other DigiLitEY material intended for parents can be found here:

European Education Policy Network kicked off

27 partners from 17 European countries have started a 4-year joint journey to improve education for children all over the continent. The kick-off meeting took place in Amsterdam on 25 February and not only the partners were present, but the European Commission also showed their commitment to this work by being represented at the meeting on a high level. The European Education Policy Network on Teachers and School Leaders is a Europe-wide network of relevant organisations (policymakers, practitioners, researchers and stakeholders) to promote co-operation, policy development and implementation at different governance levels, and to support the European Commission’s policy work on teachers and school leaders. This network is building on existing activities developed at European level, especially initiatives and projects supported through European Union programmes in the field of education. The first year of the network is dedicated to careers and professional development of teachers and school heads.

During the kick-off meeting we were trying to narrow the focus of this work in order to start developing desk research on the state of art in education research, policy and practice. Practice focuses on the point of view of teachers and parents, and Parents International will contribute substantially to this work.

Representing the European Commission, Michael Teutsch, Head of Unit on Schools emphasised that it is a new phenomenon that education is high on the general political agenda of the European Union, and teachers and school heads are considered to be crucial for any improvement to education provisions. The EEPNetwork can and should take advantage of this new-born interest and take a professional lead in policy change for real improvement.

The possibilities for the network to have an impact lies in working together with policy makers in the European Commission Working Group on Schools, but can also count on contributing to the planned work of upcoming EU Presidencies, especially the Finnish (2019) and Croatian (2020).

To do so, EEPN has decided to hold its first annual conference in Jyvaskyla, Finland on 13 November. The project website will be available soon and everybody interested will be able to follow our work there.


Engaging parents in digital learning of their children

Parents International participated in two very interesting meetings that were organised back-to-back, both highlighting the importance of engaging parents in all aspects of the digital activities of their children and the need to support parents in their role as the people responsible to provide children with the right education and protect their rights. The DigiLitEY Think Tank met in Brussels on 12 February for the last time to summarise our work and finalise our final output, material to support parents. The Council of Europe started a new Working Group in order to develop guidelines for school-industry partnerships in using digital technology in education and the first meeting was on 13 February in Paris. (more…)

The impact of training parents for intellectual disability awareness – ev

The ELPIDA consortium, EVBB and S&D are glad to invite you to the ELPIDA project’s final meeting!

The majority of approaches to intellectual disability (ID) are either focused on persons with intellectual disability (PWID) or on professionals in an effort to equip them with appropriate educational and supportive strategies; The need to provide parents with the required information and skills in order to better raise and empower their children with intellectual disability is often overlooked. Parents, though, play a significant role in supporting their children to become active members of society and achieve a good quality of life.

The ELPIDA project aims at providing family members and parent of PWID with the crucial skills and knowledge which make them feel more confident and competent to provide support and empowerment to children with ID in every age group.

ELPIDA intends to achieve this goal by means of development and promotion of a free-to-use e-learning platform, which contains six interactive educational modules providing more training, awareness raising and/or attitude change on key fields that have been identified with the active commitment of PWID’s family members.

The fields are the following:

  • Human rights;
  • Communication;
  • Ageing;
  • Stress management;
  • Transition to adulthood
  • Sexual health

The training material will be available in six languages (Danish, English, German, Greek, Norwegian and Portuguese) and offers all the advantages of distance learning.

The approach is inclusive and aimed at helping parents of disabled people educate their children.

19 March 2019 16:00-18:00

16:00   Greeting by Martina Werner, the hosting MEP

16:10   Greeting by Horst Dreimann, Director of EVBB, co-host of the event

16: 20  Presentation of the ELPIDA Project goals and results – Kathy Kikis-Papadakis, FORTH (EL), the project coordinator

16:35   Potential impact of the ELPIDA training course for parents on the lives of their children – James Crowley, external evaluator of the project

16:50   Reflection of the potential impact of training parents on the lives of people with intellectual disabilities – Albert Prévos, Member of the Executive Council of the European Disability Forum

17:00   Summary and introduction of the training modules by project partners

17:20 Testimonials from users

17:40 Q&A

Please register by filling the registration form following this link:

We are looking forward to welcoming you in the European Parliament.

Parents First – Parent Summit registration is now open

Register for Parents First – Parent Summit 2019 here:

Parents International is holding a scientific conference combined with a marketplace of inspiring practices providing meeting, showcasing and networking opportunities for researchers, parent leaders, practitioners working with or for parents and representatives of the media on 3/6 November 2019 in Vienna, Austria.

The Summit will focus on parents as primary educators, the first and most impacting educators of their children, and will tackle the topics of parental roles, responsibilities, needs and challenges. The event will have a strong focus on equity, and thus put a major emphasis on holistic, lifelong learning approaches to empower disadvantaged parents.

Parent Summit 2019 is organised in cooperation with KinderUni Wien, the Children’s University of Vienna.

Program is coming soon!

Confirmed keynote speakers are:

Dr Janet Goodall

Professor Sonia Livingstone

Miquel Àngel Essomba i Gelabert

Registration is now open.

You can register at early bird rate until 30 April 2019.

Regular registration closes on 20 September 2019.

The Call for Abstracts is open until 30 April 2019.

Participation fees:

Full conference participation (Day 1 to 3), including dinner on Sunday
Regular rate EUR 460
Early bird rate EUR 380
Student rate EUR 200 – excluding dinner

Day 1 – without dinner
Regular rate EUR 80
Early bird rate EUR 65
Student rate EUR 40
Dinner EUR 40

Day 2 or Day 3
Regular rate EUR 170
Early bird rate EUR 145
Student rate EUR 90

Dinner on Monday EUR 38

A limited number of spaces are available for a discounted rate thanks to our sponsors. You can apply for a reduction of up to 50% by sending an e-mail explaining your request for a reduction to [email protected]

Early bird rate is only applicable for payments made before the deadline, 30 April.

Students should send a copy of their student ID card to [email protected] to be eligible for the advertised student rate.


Hotel Novotel Wien Hauptbahnhof offers a limited number of rooms for the rate of EUR 129 per night. This will be the venue of the event on 4-6 November. To take advantage of this price, please book with the hotel directly using the promo code ‘parent summit‘. The offer is valid until 15 September 2019.