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ECNAIS : European Council of National Associations of Independent Schools

Annual General Meeting | Conferences

The empowerment of society through freedom of education

Athens, Greece | 14 - 16 April 2016

Athens Conference - 2016

The right to education, the freedom of parental school choice and the freedom to establish schools on the basis of self chosen religious, philosophical or pedagogical ideas are well known European values, e.g. mentioned as fundamental citizens’ rights within the EU.

These human rights and fundamental freedoms go as far back as the first Protocol of the European Convention on Human Rights, in which article 2 states: ’No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the rights of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions’.

National school systems can only be ’read’ as the outcome of a long term cultural-historical process, in many cases strongly connected with the rise and development of the nation state. That’s why in several countries the parents’ right to establish and choose an independent (non-state) school is mentioned in the constitution.

Independent schools all over Europe, each with their own profile and curriculum, offer parents, students and – within the given variety of schools – also teachers, the opportunity to chose just that specific school, that best meets their own expectations, talents and skills .

By so doing, independent schools are completing the different national school systems in Europe and contribute with school choice and innovative school practices to the modern social and economic development of their countries.

A country that neglects the freedom of education will in the long run pay a price for it in terms of the wasted talents of the new generation.

In some countries, freedom of education is seen by the government as a privilege for the elite, leading to the misunderstanding that independent schools can do without any legislative recognition and public funding.

In this conference we want to focus on the different perspectives of the freedom of education, such as the economic, social, juridical and last but not least the pedagogical perspective.

The empowering effect of the freedom of education for society as a whole will become more clear when we have a better understanding of these different perspectives.

It is important to realize that not only the independent schools, but also the public schools need a certain degree of autonomy to educate the new generation in the best possible way for the future they will face.


Thursday 14th April
8:30 Welcome and registration
Students’ Choir
9:05 Kyrailidis Charalampos
Chairman of the HAIS
Hellenic Association of Independent Schools
9:10 Simon Steen
ECNAIS Chairman
9:15 Representative of the Greek Ministry of Education
9:25 Andrew Lewer
Member of the European Parliament (Conservatives and Reformists Group)
9:35 Fortsakis Theodore
New Democracy MP
9:45 Mavrotas George
Potami MP
9:55 Christofilopoulou Evi
Pasok MP
10:15 Coffee break
10:45 Kostas Gouliamos
Rector of the European University of Cyprus President of Rector’s Conference in Cyprus
11:00 Alivizatos Nikos
Professor of Constitutional Law at the Athens University Law School
11:15 Koskos Phoebus Leonidas
President of the Hellenic American University
11:30 Papandropoulos Athanasios
International Honorary President of the European Union of Reporters
11:45 Pagoulatos Georgios
Professor of European Policy and Economy at the Economic University of Athens
12:00 Vettas Nikos
Professor of Economics University of Athens
13:00 LUNCH
14:30 Simon Walker
Learning Group Leader of the Future of Learning Institute at Harvard Graduate School of Education
14:50 Veremis Athanasios
Professor of Political Science and Public Administration at the Athens University
15:10 Kurt Ernst
Former chairman of Danmarks
15:30 Rodrigo Melo
Director of the Portuguese Association for
Independent Schools
16:30 Schools’ presentations
Preview of the school visits: 9 schools
Friday 15th April
9:00 Departure from the hotel School visits (lunch included)
Return of participants to the hotel
14:30 Tsakanikas Aggelos
Research Director at the Foundation of Economic and Industrial Research
14:50 Maarten Simons
Associate Professor at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, KU Leuven, Belgium
15:30 Activating key issues and exchange from personal perspective in small groups (coffee or tea included)
20:00 Departure from hotel
Walking distance to restaurant approx 15 min.
Saturday 16th April
9:00 Formal Annual General Meeting
12:00 Management Committee Meeting
Lunch will NOT be served after the meeting


Conference program and venue

The conference will take place at the
Royal Olympic,
28-34 Ath. Diakou Str. ,
11743, Athens,


Registration can be done on line only, here:

Athens University photo by David Vo – Licence Creative Commons, Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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