Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism, Sport, Media and Youth could unfortunately not be personally present at the conference, but sent a video greeting to the participants. In her welcome address she acknowledged the willingness of teachers to learn with and from each other. Furthermore, she cordially thanked all the teachers who make eTwinning happen for their contribution to its great success. While eTwinning helps young people to find their European identity and to broaden their horizon, it still has enormous potential for the upcoming European programme period from 2014 to 2020. In her concluding words she pointed out an expanded role for eTwinning in Europe on a new platform. Sounds exciting, doesnt’ it?
Afterwards, the Deputy Minister for Education and Science of Portugal, João Casanova, warmly welcomed the guests from all over Europe. What is eTwinning? eTwinning is the largest learning community in Europe. It brings best practices of the use of ICT in our schools. In Portugal, 1.800 schools and 4.000 teachers are involved in eTwinning, sharing ideas and communicating with schools across Europe. A large number of Portuguese teachers use ICT in their classes. Due to modernisation in the past years, the technical facilities in schools have improved remarkably (almost one computer per student!). João Casanova stressed the importance of the topic of this conference – Citizenship and School Collaboration – as citizenship means commitment for active participation in society. Teachers, amongst others, have a responsibility for students being active citizens of tomorrow. eTwinning with its variety of possibilities has a lot to offer for students to become fully aware citizens of Europe. In this respect, he wished a fruitful conference to all participants.
The audience could then experience “citizenship in action”: Portuguese students from the Michael Giacometti School gave a fabulous impression of their percussion show with simple music instruments like tin cans and wooden sticks. Their stirring rhythm and enthusiasm literally spread to the public!