Parliamentary Assembly
Assemblée
parlementaire

European education and harmonious development of students

Doc. 10055
27 January 2004

Motion for a recommendation
presented by Mr Korobeynikov and others

This motion has not been discussed in the Assembly and commits only the members who have signed it


            Worsening quality of all-round development of children attending school and preschool institutions is a matter of serious concern. Certainly, physical, psychic and moral health of children is affected by various factors and first and foremost such as people’s social and economic hardship, disturbed ecology. But there are a number of school factors destroying the health of children and teenagers, which have at its basis traditional, largely outdated approaches to the organization of teaching and educational process. Laws of liberation and development of physical and spiritual nature of students and principles of contemporary school go in opposite directions. Contemporary formally rational school process built upon keeping the child motionless leads not only to the overexertion of students but also to the functioning of physiological mechanism of their health deterioration. As a result society from generation to generation reproduces through kindergarten and school increasingly unhealthy youth, which leave behind them descendants of less and less vitality.

            As long ago as at the dawn of the Age of Enlightenment pedagogues and physicians raised the alarm that commonly used sedentary method of book-learning destroys physical and spiritual health of children. Prominent pedagogue J. Pestalozzi said in his time that bookish method of teaching “stifles” children’s development, “kills” their health. In the middle of the last century the participants of the congresses on education in Paris, Basle and Lund started speaking openly about the beginning of “dehumanizing” of school-age children. IX congress of pediatricians of Russia came to the conclusion that during the years of studying at school health of every child becomes five times worse. In a greater or lesser degree these processes take place in many countries of Europe.

            Why does it happen? UN Convention on the rights of the child while declaring healthy development of the child as a priority doesn’t contain mechanisms for implementation of this idea. Educational systems of many countries do not foster culture of health, function without the objective assessment of pedagogical techniques’ shortcomings. There is no critical analysis of teaching methods, which are not always conformable to the child’s nature, though it is a question of excessively high physiological cost of new untested teaching techniques. Education-managing bodies lack regular regard to bearing, eyesight, neuropsychic condition are not timely assessed.

            In classes with an authoritarian teacher the number of neural disorders is 1.5 – 2 times higher than in classes with a humane teacher. It is not a coincidence that students’ suicides in many countries of Europe take second place in child mortality after traffic accidents.

            Working day of a present-day school student, homework included, comes to 9-10 hours in elementary school (age from 6 to 8-9 years), 10-12 hours – in junior high school (age from 10 to 13 years) and 13-15 hours – in high school (age from 14 to 16-17 years).

            Thus, at the heart of students’ poor or even ill health are not so much medical as pedagogical causes. Regretfully, contemporary society is not sufficiently aware of the dangerous increase in school forms of pathology. Although many countries have educational procedures, which prove clearly that it is possible to withstand such forms of pathology without medical intervention. These procedures take maximum account of perceptible spiritual side of the child’s personality and ennobling power of culture.  Not therapeutic (medical) techniques but health-improving teaching methods tested in many educational institutions of Europe have positive effect on the quality of physical and mental development of children.

            At the same time, European educational system can be more efficiently aimed at harmonious development of students if the school is given a clearly defined social order: moral, mental and physical health of graduating students must be made high-priority criteria for assessing efficiency of the educational system, of the state and of the society.

            Based on the above stated Assembly recommends that:

National Parliaments:

Create legal guarantees for harmonious development of students in the process of receiving education; promote in every country implementation of the principle: moral, mental and physical health of students after graduation from an educational institution must be by far better than before entering it.

National governments:

            Make forming mature moral, mental and physical personality of students a higher priority than process of providing them with information. With that end in view:

i.          define a set of mandatory indicators for assessing the quality of students’ development and health, procedures for determining the dynamics for the past school year;

ii.          introduce statistics and publish in the media comparative indicators of student’s physical and mechanical state of health;

iii.         establish responsibility of educational institutions and bodies, of authorities at all levels for causing damage to students’ health and all-round development.

Committee of Ministers:

            Hold an open competition to develop an all-European strategic programme: “Moral, mental and physical development of children in the system of preschool and school training and education” which could be used as a basis for making possible amendments to the European school legislation aimed at organising educational process on the principles of conformity with the nature.

Signed [1]:
Korobeynikov, Russia, SOC
Cilevics, Latvia, SOC
Crema, Italy, SOC
Davis, United Kingdom, SOC
Melcák, Czech Republic, SOC
Oliynyk, Ukraine, UEL
Prisacaru, Romania, SOC
Sudarenkov, Russia, SOC
Tulaev, Russia, EDG
Ziuganov, Russia, UEL


[1]

SOC: Socialist Group
EPP: Group of the European People’s Party
EDG: European Democratic Group
LDR : Liberal, Democratic and Reformers’ Group
UEL: Group of the Unified European Left
NR: not registered in a group