The gap between rich and poor can be a fact of life, but is unacceptable as a starting point. The equal opportunity to build a better, more educated and prosperous life is at the heart of the European way of life.

 

- What can the European Union and the Member states do to build a “ladder of equal opportunities” for all?

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Please try to be as concrete as possible when answering the questions, the more in depth you go the more impactful your ideas will be!

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Equal opportunities for everybody seems like an utopia of life because reality shows that the ladder between poor and rich is spreading further and further and the gap is increasing rapidly, especially in times like this when populism and rightwing parties gain in popularity. For me a first step in the right direction is a fair access to education. Of course, the first years of schooling are similar for everyone but especially in this age children are very formative. In My opinion the school system, for example in Austria, causes a lot of inequality in many ways and shuts doors when it comes to break out of society measures. Grades, separation and suppressing talents describes the western (or at least Austrian) way of school and this leads to a complete wrong direction of thinking and to a lack of opportunities in a child’s future. Strengthen are suppressed and weaknesses highlighted – the guideline which is mediated indirectly is that everyone must be the same and everyone should be on the same level in all divisions. Particularly for children with a social weak background is it hard to break through their parents’ house and to realize themselves in this cruel world. So, the EU can and should lead the member states normative in a right direction to support an equal education with a liberal school system in all states of Europe. Not everyone needs to be good at everything, that’s why we got professions and specialists on this planet. Another radically idea would be to sanctify the states or making liberal school systems with equal opportunities for everyone a prerequisite. Further is the financial situation of the population in Europe a main reason for the education problem. Many people cannot afford an academic education or even A-Levels for their children. In most EU-Countries Universities have their fees to pay but how should that be affordable if even living is not? The state subventions are rarely enough for paying rent as a student. How should middle, or lower class parents support their children with money if it is even hard to survive yourself. So many children are not able to study and cannot get the desirable schooling they want and they even deserve. The EU can introduce subventions especially for families in needs that could cause equal opportunities, at least a step in the right direction would be made. Special Scholarships could be made to support talents and ideas of young people with no real perspective. Also, the infrastructure is decisive for equal education, but with no financial foundation it’s hard to get out of you landscaped surrounding into an urban lifestyle with Universities and Facilities to gain knowledge and to grow in oneself. For that the 27 members, should pay more than 1% of their national income to the EU, because otherwise it is impossible to raise a huge amount of money for social needs especially as an economy based union and to support children of any origin to pave the way to equal opportunities.
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Votes: 14

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I would like to share my thought too. I believe a way to achieve that is through education. A good idea in my opinion would be to have no fees for a bachelor degree in all countries and then not a fix price for masters, as today we see a lot of people going abroad for studies, but not everyone can afford it. EU citizens still pay less than non EU usually, but considering the cost of living as well, maybe more scholarships should be available or other options for students who cannot pay themselves for everything - keeping in mind that the cost of living and the salaries are also not the same in all member countries. In general , I believe the big differences in the education system and mainly its costs should be considered.

Votes: 47

The main area which can improve closure of the gap between rich and poor is Education: In the past few years it has been my observation that education has been deteriorating and ignorance is on the rise. If we are to enable people to better themselves and have a fighting chance to become successful we need to make dramatic changes to our education system so that even the poorer population are able to have an equal chance as the richer population. This lack of chance for the poor has created a bitter divide between the two classes and led to some of the poorer population to carry envy towards those who are successful and creating hatred of the successful and a big divide between them. In observing these things it is my proposal that education in public schools for poorer populations is to see an introduction of preparatory style education that you would find in preparatory schools and schools created for the upper class. This is not to be confused with turning all schools into grammar schools with a charge. This is bringing in techniques from preparatory schools, free of charge, for the poorer population in order for them to have the same chances in life as the privileged few with an education that will diminish their inferior feeling and close the division between the classes. The proposal consists of the following elements: 1. Introduction of basic mannerisms and etiquette from an early age 2. Introduction of high-quality teaching with a no-nonsense approach 3. a ban on mobile phones and devices in schools so that it can ensure that no child is distracted and miss out on education 4. an introduction of heavy fines for those who pull their children from school just to get a cheaper holiday 5. an introduction in punishments to those who skip school 6. an introduction in school camps rather than expelling a child as expulsion is what most unruly and so-called rebellious children want and tend not to care about it as a replacement we have a boot camp facility to send children there for correction of their behaviour 7. an introduction in mandatory sports to keep the children fit and health and get them into the habit of maintaining regular exercise and avoiding obesity 8. an introduction in a strict policy to tackle bullying and ensure that bullies are punished immediately and ensured that bullying is intolerable in any place 9. an introduction in culture subject such as language classes, religious studies, cultural studies of all countries etc. so that children are equipped with information and prevent them believing the hatred that certain people like to tell 10. an introduction to finishing school style education for younger children so they are better behaved and know how to carry themselves and do not feel inferior beside a child who was educated privately 11. introduce a smaller class size so that the workload is bearable for teachers therefore they are able to give each child the attention and help they need and deserve 12. an introduction in community activities in schools which involve parents ensuring that teachers are dedicated and properly trained as well as performing their teaching duties correctly 13. provide a safe environment for children by introducing security procedures in school ensure that there are more reliable and accurate resources in school for the children to enhance their intellect 14. encourage more reading and writing rather than social media and other activities which will not benefit anyone 15. encourage the children to write and express themselves 16. ensure that teachers are encouraging the children and letting them know that they can do anything they want to 17. place a counsellor in all schools that children can confide in 18. create clubs that children can attend after school e.g. sports, music, arts, ensure that children think about their future early on and that they have the ambition 19. encourage a competitive environment by issuing rewards to those who reach set goals to encourage each child to push for the best in life 20. have mandatory one-to-one sessions with children to discuss their concerns and education reports etc. Many children are told by parents or another adult that what they wish to do with their lives is unachievable, that it is far above their reach that they might as well give up. This is why I propose that there should be more adults, particularly teachers, who let the child know that it is not unachievable. It is achievable. They can do anything they wish to do in life and nobody has the right to tell them they can't. In schools there should be guidance and help available to help the child achieve their dreams. We need to help the youth find their ambition and drive and not suppress it. Those who tell us we can't are wrong. Anything is achievable. In saying that we must not lead the child to believe it will be easy because nothing in this life is ever easy and they should know the realities of the situation and their journey to success. We must teach them to never give up on their dreams because even the greatest have fallen several times before they reached the top. We need to diminish the defeatist attitude that has plagued us for so long.

Votes: 47

Really? :-)) Do you have the board and time? And if you ask such things, who does them and organize?
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Votes: 52

You voted ‘up’

As the best leverage to reduce inequalities is in Education, and that Education orientation depends mainly on the environement surounding each young individual. I believe that the best way to mitigate inequalities of birth places and social background, is to allow young europeans to mix and share among them: - Partner kids (middle and high school) from different european countries and allow them to exhange via controled online platforms and social networks. - Promote city-twinning-based cultural summer exchanges, and if possible in relation with the above point.
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Votes: 52

You voted ‘up’

Between many problems included in the subject, I think that it is particularly unacceptable that unpaid internships still exist. The fact that the job market is highly competitive means that someone with no experience will have to submit themselves to basically slavery in an unpaid internship that is most of the times the only opportunity that they are accepted for, which they obviously see as their only choice as a start, but which often means that only people with family financial support can take these positions. It is completely unacceptable that young people are expected to go through a step in their professional lives that obviously only take if they don't belong to the so called poor class. It is necessary for the EU to create legislation forbidding unpaid internships, making it mandatory to have at least some symbolic payment in every position in which a person provides work force, as everyone deserves to be remunerated for their work and young people are no exception. It would also help if the EU would create programmes that could help young people to start their adult lives regardless of their family's financial conditions. This is already done with Erasmus+ and paid internships in the EU but it can be developed and improved very much, for example through the creation of paid positions for young people in different sectors not only in EU institutions but also in every member State with EU funding (or the allocation of a percentage of EU funds that each country already gets). Another example would be the creation of legislation that demands from countries the development of programmes to support young people (easy access to loans for unemployed young people, the creation of very cheap housing options for young people with low or even no income, the mandatory creation of legislation to facilitate the employment of young people, the creation of good conditions for students like allowances and cheap of free housing for people that come from family in the limiar of poverty, mandatory development of projects that create jobs and studies for young people in isolated parts of the countries to avoid the big obstacle of moving away from home and the costs that it means). Member states shouldn't be allowed to think of young people like they have a support system because many of them don't have it. Everyone should be allowed to at least try to start their adult lives, regardless of their family's help. Moreover, I believe that to tackle this problem from the root the EU should make an effort together with the member states to improve the education system, not only the school system but a much broader sense, like extracurricular programmes that would complement children's education in adjustment to their different needs. Inequality starts at home when children don't get equal support for their mainstream education provided in schools, due to different family conditions that they might have. Member states should be obliged to provide a real mentorship to every child in order for each of them to develop to their fullest potential regardless of the education follow-up that they might or might not have at home.

Votes: 92

I think that housing is definitely important for equality of opportunities. We tend to underestimate its importance. Let's think of two families. One can afford to rent or buy a decent house, that offers safety and security, the other family (usually poor and/or part of a minority) can only access housing with poor living conditions, that takes a significant chunk of the family budget. In the first case, housing helps the youngsters in the family make a better use of all the other resources and activities they have, while in the second case, housing is a source of stress. Since education is one of the main ladders of social mobility today, children that are raised in the family that is in the second situation can have their performance at school affected by their deficit in housing - which is already affecting other areas of their lives, which in turn affect education (e.g., space for privacy, thermal isolation which is related to comfort but also to health). If we move on to the case of people in homeless, it becomes even more clear how housing is central to life in society. Many people cannot find jobs because they can't access a home, and because they cannot have/rent a home, they cannot find a job or get access to some services (they are often stigmatized). I am sure that the EU can do much more in favour of the right to housing in its Member-States. Current EU policy in the area is extremely weak. EU bodies, such as the European Parliament and the Social and Economic Committee, have called for the adoption of concrete measures to fight homelessness. None of the major recommendations, such as an European agency to fight homelessness, seem to have been adopted. The European Social and Economic Committee has called for more money from the EU funding instruments to be dedicated to address homelessness and even the lack of housing. A very concrete suggestion that I can make, although not perfect is: an EU programme that recovers abandoned buildings, in partnership with local authorities and even businesses, and that transforms them into social housing projects, with the collaboration/participation of potential beneficiaries.
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Votes: 98

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