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Bonn Declaration

In May 2011, the European Music Council (EMC) invited active parties from the field of music education to discuss the implementation of the UNESCO Seoul Agenda, Goals for the Development of Arts Education. The main task of the seminar was to explore how the Seoul Agenda can be adapted to music education in Europe.

The Bonn Declaration reflects common focal points for the development of music education in Europe. It acknowledges the principle of subsidiarity and calls upon political decision makers at local, regional, national and European level to define common policies that promote the development of music education in Europe at all levels and to put these policies into practice. On the other hand, it is directed at music education institutions and music education practitioners themselves, offering them a matrix for self-reflection, reviewing the goals and checking whether they are applicable. The participants of the seminar agree that it is vital to recognise the value of music education in Europe for the cohesion of the European societies in the 21st century.

The Seoul Agenda: Goals for the Development of Arts Education reflects the conviction […] that arts education has an important role to play in the constructive transformation of educational systems that are struggling to meet the needs of learners in a rapidly changing world characterized by remarkable advances in technology on the one hand and intractable social and cultural injustices on the other.

Issues […] included […] were peace, cultural diversity and intercultural understanding aswell as the need for a creative and adaptive workforce in the context of post industrial economies.

[…] Arts education can make a direct contribution to resolving the social and culturalchallenges facing the world today. (Seoul Agenda, introduction)

The three goals of the Seoul Agenda are closely interlinked and cover important aspects of arts education. The Bonn Declaration reflects the arguments of the Seoul Agenda and gives interpretations of the three goals placing its own emphasis on music education in Europe.

The three goals are: Access, Quality and Social & Cultural Challenges

View the Recommendations to political decision makers.

Download the Bonn Declaration in full here.
Download the German version of the Bonn Declaration in full here.

Download the French version of the Bonn Declaration in full here.
Download the Norwegian version of the Bonn Declaration in full here.

The Bonn Declaration: The Next Steps

(Article taken from Sounds in Europe #7, 2011 - 2012)

At the EMC’s music education seminar in May 2011 participants explored the implementation of the UNESCO Seoul Agenda for the Development of Arts Education and sought ways of adapting the document for the music sector in Europe. The outcome of these discussions, the Bonn Declaration, embraces the three closely related goals of the Seoul Agenda and offers tangible direction in the development of music education in Europe.

Access to Music Education constitutes the first goal of the Bonn Declaration, which raises questions such as, who is offering music activities? Are these activities available to all those wishing to take part in them, and if not, then why? The document emphasizes the right of all citizens to a music education and therefore states that any obstacles encountered by those wanting to participate must be addressed.

The second goal explores the prerequisites of high quality music education, and discusses whether those providing music education have received the necessary training for the jobs they are performing. Any shortfalls should be overcome through collaborations between formal, non-formal and informal music education providers, with responsibility for the adequate training lying with both the educational institutions preparing the practitioners as well as their later employers. 

Social and Cultural Challenges faced by the music education sector are addressed in the third goal of the Bonn Declaration. It is agreed that there is more to music than its artistic value, and music education has proved itself as an instrument for overcoming inequalities in society. This must be recognised by those active in the field of music education: however, those seeking to use music education for such means, should be adequately informed and have received the relevant training.

The Bonn Declaration, which concludes with a set of recommendations to decision makers, is an important political document which will not only help the European music education sector to achieve the objectives laid down in the Seoul Agenda, but hopefully pave the way for recognition of the value of music education in the 21st century for Europe. In order for this to occur though, the sector must unite, and respecting the principle of subsidiarity, bring the document to the attention of politicians at local and national levels.  Only through raised awareness at these levels will changes to legislation at the European level be possible.

What can I do?

  • Implement the document into the work of your organization
  • Encourage other organisations to do so too!
  • Bring the document to the attention of your local education authority and politicians
  • Show your support for the Bonn Declaration by adding the name of your organisation to the official list of endorsers
  • Adapt the Bonn Declaration to your own education environment