Porto – On 26 May 2023, the Executive Secretary of Don Bosco International had the pleasure to attend the first day of the Porto Social Forum 2023 organised by the Portuguese Government, supported by the European Commission, in Porto (Portugal).
The Porto Social Forum represents the 2nd edition of the Porto Social Summit, held in 2021 during the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Alongside the existing instruments of economic and social policy coordination, the biannual European conference allowed to monitor the achievements on the Child Guarantee and the National Action Plans, follow-up their implementation and introduce new priorities according to the evolving economic, social and political context of Europe.
During the conference, representatives from European institutions, Member States, civil society organisations and social partners had the opportunity to share points of reflections and expertise on the protection and social inclusion of children.
According to Eurostat data, the situation in Europe remains alarming: one out of four children is currently at risk of poverty. Civil society organisations stressed the urgency of actions and investments aimed to face child poverty in the context of our current and future global challenges.
A particular focus was dedicated to vocational and education training as an effective tool for enhancing social inclusion. The importance of a holistic approach in re-skilling and up-skilling highlighted how developing skills makes individuals free and able to make their own choices for a better future. The development of social skills is directly linked with a more active civic involvement and participation in our communities. “Social investment is investing in people!” stated by Dragoş Pîslaru, Member of the European Parliament.
Don Bosco International contributed to the discussion as a member of the Alliance for Investing in Children, which published different recommendations in the joint Statement “No child should experience poverty and social exclusion in a Social Europe”.
In order to eradicate child poverty, the Alliance urged EU Member States to:
– submit and implement robust Child Guarantee National Action Plans;
– involve children and stakeholders in their implementation;
– ensure additional funding to support children and their families.
A small space was given to youth participation, where two young people had the possibility to publicly share their fruitful training experiences, as well as their dreams and future projects after having encountered difficulties during the pandemic.
On the same occasion, Don Bosco International visited the Colégio Don Bosco, a Salesian school that offers quality education for children and youngsters through innovative approaches. It was a great pleasure to meet Fr. José Cordeiro, Director of the Colégio, and João Ensina, Coordinator of the Youth Ministry, with whom the Executive Secretary of DBI exchanged ideas on the current challenges in the field of education, poverty, and dialogue with families.