5. Committee of Ministers Recommendation No. R (83) 13 to Member States on the Role of the Secondary School in Preparing Young People for Life (1983)
(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers, 23 September 1983)

The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Article 15.b of the Statute of the Council of Europe,

Having regard to the findings of Project No. 1 of the Council for Cultural Co-operation (CDCC) on secondary education, "Preparation for life" (1978-82);

Considering that Western Europe is undergoing a period of change and uncertainty, which varies in intensity from region to region;

Aware that many young people today are deeply concerned about the future, their roles in society and their chances of vocational training and work;

Believing that the future of European society depends on the ability and willingness of all its members:

i. to accept, preserve and promote human values, democracy and human rights;

ii. to further European co-operation, to display a sense of solidarity with the rest of the world and to work for peace;

iii. to understand and respect others, to be tolerant, to recognise the right to be different and to combat prejudice;

iv. to resolve conflict in an open and democratic manner;


Believing that these requirements can only be met by independent and responsible men and women;

Recognising that, although the school is not  the  only  source  of education, it  has, more than ever before, a crucial role to play in forming independent and responsible individuals;

Recommends the governments of member states:

a. to take account, in the implementation of their policies for secondary education, of the principles set out at the appendix hereto or to draw them to the attention of the competent bodies concerned so that they can be considered and, where appropriate, taken into account;

b. to ensure that this recommendation is distributed as widely as possible among all persons and bodies concerned with secondary education.

Appendix to Recommendation No. R (83) 13

Principles for the guidance of those responsible for programmes concerned with preparing young people for life

1. In preparing young people for life in society, special attention should be paid to their needs in the years just before and just after the end of compulsory education because:

i. these years are a period of intensive personal and social development;

ii. during them, all young people have to take momentous decisions about their future;

iii. in many member states, young people reach the age of majority a few years after the end of compulsory schooling.

2. Education systems should give all young people the opportunity to acquire essential knowledge, skills and attitudes in the following key areas, which are closely interdependent:

i. Preparation for life in a democratic society. This should cover human rights and fundamental freedoms, the duties and responsibilities of citizens, and politics and economics. It should help young people to participate in public life at local and national level and to understand international politics;

ii. Preparation for personal life. This should include fundamental values and personal, family and community relations. Young people should be given experience in personal decision-making, problem-solving and planning;


4. The preparation of young people for life will be facilitated by an active partnership between the school and other social institutions. In particular, the school could co-operate with advantage with:

i. the family, through close co-operation with parents;

ii. the local community, through community involvement in the life of the school and voluntary involvement by young people in the life of the community;

iii. social and political institutions, through discussions with leaders of public opinion, the study of and visits to local and national public institutions and appropriate out-of-school activities;

iv. other countries, through wide-ranging personal contacts, exchanges, and school twinning and correspondence. This will encourage the learning of foreign languages;

v. the world of work, through work experience and contacts with representatives of employers and of trade unions;

vi. the world of culture in the widest sense, through active participation in social, artistic and scientific activities and sport.

5. The ethos, curricula and management of schools should be such as to allow young people opportunities for practical experience of the exercise of democratic values. Where appropriate, young people should be given opportunities:

i. to participate in informed decision-making with those responsible for their education;

ii. to assume responsibilities towards themselves, their classmates, their school, their family, their peer groups and their community;

iii. to practise forms of delegation and representation;

iv. to join school councils and informal students' groups.

6. School staff should be helped, through appropriate initial and in-service training, to acquire the knowledge, attitudes and skills required for counselling and guidance. In particular, they should be encouraged:

i. to understand the psychological and affective needs of their pupils;

ii. to develop sensitive democratic leadership;

iii. to use, as a resource, the different cultural and social backgrounds of their pupils;

iv. to have knowledge and even experience of the world of work outside the education system.

7. Educational authorities should allow schools both the flexibility and the time that they will require if they are to establish a partnership with other social institutions and create opportunities for pupil participation.