Peter Csermely is President of the European Council for High Ability and is working on the development of a European Talent Support Network. Here he answers a few questions on his background and work and on the Budapest Declaration of Talent Support.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and talent development in Hungary.
When I attended high school (which was the best school of my country) I was bored. This was the main reason, why I started my first talent support organization 17 years ago giving top research opportunities for motivated students in the age between 15 and 20. In this EU Descartes Award-winning program so far more than ten thousand students enrolled and enjoyed research. I became a professor of network science (www.linkgroup.hu) and used my knowledge to start a talent support network in Hungary and 4 neighbouring countries in 2006 involving now more than 200,000 people (http://geniuszportal.hu/node/7853). The program became a national priority in the country and is funded by the EU Social Fund and tax-donations of 270 thousand Hungarian people each contributing around 5 million EUR/year.
2. What is the ECHA and what does it do?
ECHA is the European Council of High Ability (www.echa.info), which is an organization of devoted individuals from all around Europe established 25 years ago. The Council has members in each European country, and includes several institutional members (working mainly research and education). ECHA has several members from other continents, too. ECHA organizes very successful biannual conferences, where the latest research results and best practices of talent support are introduced. ECHA provides a news magazine to its members and publishes High Ability Studies (http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/chas20/current), which is the most prestigious journal of talent-related research. In its latest meeting, organized in September 2012, Münster, Germany, ECHA decided to expand, and by increasing its membership and influence help the utilization of best research results in the help of talented young people in Europe.
3. What is the Budapest Declaration and what does it hope to achieve?
During the Hungarian EU presidency a successful EU presidential meeting was organized on talent support (http://www.conference2011.talentday.eu/en/). As a conclusion of the conference governmental representatives, NGO delegates and talent experts from all European countries accepted the Budapest Declaration on Talent Support (http://geniuszportal.hu/content/budapest-declaration-talent-support). The Declaration encourages European countries to consider talent support as a priority of national educational, development and other policies, encourages the establishment of Talent Points and Talent Centres, the exchange of best practices in talent support, and suggests the celebration of European Talent Days. As a continuation of the meeting as a grass-root initiative the Budapest European Talent Centre (www.talentcentrebudapest.eu) has been established in the spring of 2012 serving as a hub of the forming European Talent Support Network. In October 2012 a sequel of this conference was organized in Warsaw, Poland.
4. How can advocates for the Gifted and Talented in Ireland help?
Ireland has always been in the forefront of European talent support activities. This is shown by the Programme for Government which recognises the educational needs of gifted children, as well as by the pioneering organization of the first EU Talent Day and a National Gifted Education Awareness Day on the 9th April 2011. These and the Gifted and Talented Network Ireland sets a very good example for other EU member states to build up their own talent support network in a systematic way. The role of gifted and talent advocates in Ireland becomes especially important in the first half of 2013, when Ireland will be the president of the EU.
Almost a hundred European Parliament members signed a proposal of a written declaration to support the talents of Europe (http://www.talentcentrebudapest.eu/content/written-declaration). This is the first document of the European Parliament on giftedness and talent since 1994. If more than 378 EP members sign the proposal by 19th February 2013, it will give a strong basis to include talent support as a priority to EU policies.
Advocates for the Gifted and Talented in Ireland may encourage their European Parliament members to sign the Declaration proposal, and may also suggest to Ruairi Quinn TD, Minister for Education and Skills to support the establishment of an EU member-state group and an EU high level expert group on talent support, as well as the declaration of a Year of European Excellence and Talents.
Dear Irish Gifted Advocates,
I want to thank Peter Csermely for taking the time to write this post for Gifted and Talented Ireland and for driving change in talent support in Europe.
Please download and email the Declaration to MEPs, Irish or otherwise, so that both Ireland and Europe can make a leap forward in gifted and talent development. This is one of the BIG moments advocates have been looking for and we have a chance to be proactive and instrumental in bringing about positive change for gifted and talented children.