The proposed action targets the creation of new partnerships in local communities to foster improved science education for all citizens. This action aims to support a range of activities based on collaboration between formal, non-formal and informal science education providers, enterprises and civil society in order to integrate the concept of open schooling, including all educational levels, in science education.
""Open schooling"" where schools, in cooperation with other stakeholders, become an agent of community well-being shall be promoted; families should be encouraged to become real partners in school life and activities; professionals from enterprises and civil and wider society should actively be involved in bringing real-life projects to the classroom. Relevant policy makers should also be involved, to encourage policy buy-in and the mainstreaming of good practices and insights into policies, and hence sustainability and impact beyond the lifetime of funding. Partnerships that foster expertise, networking, sharing and applying science and technology research findings across different enterprises (e.g. start-ups, SMEs, larger corporations) should be promoted. Gender, socio-economic and geographical differences should be considered.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of the order of € 1.50 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
At the moment, Europe faces a shortfall in science-knowledgeable people at all levels of society. This is a good time to expand opportunities for science learning, in formal, non-formal and informal settings[[http://ec.europa.eu/research/swafs/pdf/pub_science_education/KI-NA-26-893-EN-N.pdf.]]. Evidence shows that European citizens, young and old, appreciate the importance of science and want to be more informed, and that citizens want more science education. Over 40% believe science and technological innovation can have a positive impact on the environment, health and medical care, and basic infrastructure in the future[[http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/archives/ebs/ebs_419_en.pdf.]]. Therefore, collaboration between formal, non-formal and informal science education providers, enterprises and civil society should be enhanced to ensure relevant and meaningful engagement of all societal actors with science and increase the uptake of science studies, citizen science initiatives and science-based careers, employability and competitiveness.
It is expected that in the short term the development of partnerships between schools, local communities, Civil Society Organisations, universities and industry should contribute to a more scientifically interested and literate society and students with a better awareness of and interest in scientific careers. In the medium term the activities should provide citizens and future researchers with the tools and skills to make informed decisions and choices and in the long-term this action should contribute towards the ERA objectives of increasing the numbers of scientists and researchers in Europe.