3.4.3 European / international actors and programmes
With regard to San Marino participation in the Council of Europe's multilateral cooperation programmes, the Ministry of Education and Culture has established a commission of experts made up of university professors, teachers and others, with the aim of planning initiatives for the six-month Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (November 2006 - May 2007). Moreover, the members of this commission are called upon to actively participate in the initiatives promoted by the Council of Europe and to represent the Republic within the international fora. In this context, a national coordinator has been appointed, with the task of taking part in the meetings on education relating to democratic citizenship and human rights and on the forms of responsible and active citizenship favouring the democratic participation of schools. Schools of every order and grade have developed a particularly rich programme on this theme.
Moreover, the training and refresher courses on education relating to human rights directed to teachers, started in September 2006, will continue to be offered. The Summer School, established in 2007, is organised by the Department of Training of San Marino University, in co-operation with the Department of Education Sciences of Bologna University, which has the aim of developing an educational reflection on the use of civil theatre as a cultural and teaching resource in different training contexts, in order to promote full and aware democratic citizenship. The Summer School offers meetings and workshops with the best artists involved in civil theatre, theatre laboratories, seminars with university professors and a theatre exhibition open to the public: the "Festival of Democratic Citizenship", which included four performances dealing with the issue of social inclusion / exclusion from different points of view. Moreover, a San Marino University professor has been entrusted by the Ministry of Education and Culture with the task of participating in the "Pestalozzi" training programme of the Council of Europe for education professionals, focused on intercultural education.
The Cooperation and Customs Union Agreement signed with the European Union allows wide margins with regard to cultural exchange programmes, such as Erasmus, although these are not regulated in a specific paragraph. Indeed, several San Marino young people have decided to study and specialise abroad. Like the citizens of other European States, San Marino young people can participate in foreign projects. The only difference concerns the possibility of receive financing, which cannot be granted to non-EU citizens. Therefore, San Marino State provides assistance by paying the relevant financial contributions. Moreover, in accordance with Law n. 5 of 21 January 2004, the Office for the Right to Study allocates grants for highly specialised courses both in Italy and abroad. This Law represents a useful instrument for those particularly gifted and talented young people wishing to specialise in their chosen field. San Marino Secondary School provides for the training abroad of students, in particular throughout the 5 years of the Linguistic Lyceum and during the fourth year of the Classical, Scientific and Economic Lyceum.
For the first time, in 2007 San Marino participated in the photography competition EPIM (Expérience Photographique Internationale des Monuments) organised by the Government of Catalonia and sponsored by the Council of Europe. The aim of the initiative is to stress the importance of the historical, cultural and monumental heritage of European States and the world, through a particular "photographic objective": that of the new generations. Photos taken by two girls attending the junior high school and high school have been chosen to represent San Marino in this important pedagogical project.
With regard to activities promoted by UNESCO, in 2006 San Marino has actively participated in the project "Human rights and education in the fight against poverty. Support to autonomy acquisition by girls and women from Niger". For this humanitarian initiative, in which other 4 small States participated, San Marino signed the letter of intention and offered an economic contribution. The amount allocated will be used to complete, in one of the poorest areas of the world, a comprehensive education project including: the building of primary schools in villages, with the necessary equipment and training courses for teachers; the implementation of agricultural activities; awareness raising campaigns on human rights and gender equality; adequate training concerning health and the fight against AIDS. The envisaged interventions will be monitored by UNESCO, in collaboration with the financing countries.
Congress of State Decision of 16 May 2006 agreed on San Marino's signing of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and mandates the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the relevant fulfilments. At the time being, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Political Affairs and Economic Planning and the Ministry of Education and Culture, University and Social Affairs are working on the ratification of this Convention. The ratification of the United Nations Convention is part of a wider project which includes San Marino government policies supporting intercultural dialogue and pursued in the international fora where the country is represented. In particular, protection and promotion of diversity was among the priorities of San Marino Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe; even if the six-month Chairmanship is over, these issues and ideals are still very important, representing the basis of San Marino's social and political agenda.
In December 2008, on the occasion of the world celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, San Marino issued a specific set of commemorative stamps and financed a project for students in several countries in cooperation with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Moreover, the most important document concerning the fundamental freedoms of all persons was celebrated also through a full programme of events, mainly thanks to the Institutions, the Lilliput Club and the National Commission for UNESCO. Besides public conferences and theatre performances, some initiatives for students were organised, including the distribution of a booklet with the text of the Charter of Rights and a competition developed involving essay writing, graphics, photography and drawing on the theme "We have learned to fly like birds, to swim like fish, but we have not learned the art to live like brothers." Considering the educational importance of these initiatives and the shared need to inform young people about, raise their awareness of and educate them on peaceful coexistence, these events were organised under the aegis of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which, over the last years, has carried out intense activity in favour of human rights and intercultural dialogue, both at a European level and in the wider international context of the United Nations.
At a multilateral level, in July 2011 San Marino adhered to the Lisbon Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region and ratified it in October 2011. This represents for San Marino a first fundamental step towards its entry into the planned European Higher Education Area (see also chapter 8.3.4), the objective of which is to promote the mobility of students and teachers and increase employability and competitiveness at an international level by eliminating some differences existing in the rights of San Marino students, who will then have more possibilities in terms of exchange programmes with European schools and recognition of school years spent abroad. The Training Department of San Marino University will be entrusted with the task of dealing with matters relative to the recognition of qualifications and of promoting exchange of information on our school system with other European centres. In this way, San Marino has started a process of international accreditation in order to have its qualifications recognised all over Europe and not only in neighbouring Italy. This is an important decision for the country, which is undergoing a delicate process of economic, cultural and social transformation and which is asking politicians to further promote the University, its consolidation and internationalisation, without forgetting areas still unexplored.