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Strasbourg: Getting chess into schools Europe-wide

2/27/2012 – For six months now the Kasparov Chess Foundation has been lobbying to get chess introduced into the curriculum of schools in Europe. With the help of the British charity Chess in Schools Garry Kasparov worked the members of the European Parliament, so far garnering 377 of the 380 signatures required. You can help: call your MEPs and tell them to sign the declaration.
 

A report from Strasbourg by Malcolm Pein

The British charity Chess in Schools and Communities is working with the Kasparov Chess Foundation Europe on a political campaign to garner support for chess to be introduced to schools Europe-wide. The focus of the campaign is a written declaration shown at the end of this report. It was sponsored by five members of the European Parliament, from the UK, Finland, Italy, Bulgaria and Malta.

Written declarations need the support of half of all MEPs before they can go before the European Commission for consideration and possible action. For the last six months Garry Kasparov and his team have been working tirelessly to secure the signatures of 380 MEPs. I am delighted to report that to date 377 signatures have been received! Thanks to all those associated with CSC who wrote to their MEPs.


Malcolm Pein, CEO of CSC and Rudi Valcke, chess teacher (BE) explain the benefits
of chess during the Chess in School seminar at the EU (on the left Garry Kasparov)

On Tuesday 14th February we – CSC Chief Executive Malcolm Pein and Operations Manager Director Stefania Matthidi – travelled to Strasbourg to assist KCFE in a lobbying effort over three days while the European Parliament was in session. There are a limited number of such opportunities, and our first objective was to secure another 30 signatures to get to 300, at which point the campaign would gain the benefit of increased access to MEPs at subsequent sittings.


Garry Kasparov, Chairman of the Kasparov Chess Foundation Europe, talking about
the educational and cultural benefits of chess in school programs

Immediately on arrival at Strasbourg we headed straight to Le Jardin de L’Orangerie, where we joined Garry Kasparov and French MEPs for cocktails organized by the Strasbourg Chess Club. It was lovely to meet IM Daniel Roos, whom I hadn't seen for something like 25 years and who is now in charge of a thriving club in Strasburg with 350 members and 16 schools.

Most of the following day was spent in the European Parliament. The Chess in Schools programme was presented to MEPs and members of the public by Garry Kasparov, Malcolm Pein and guest speakers including young players from Holland and Bulgaria, who by the way spoke impeccable English!


One of the children that played chess against Kasparov talks about why he loves
the game of chess at the seminar at the EU

The presentation was followed by Garry playing a simul against MEPs and children, a particularly enjoyable spectacle! Garry won all the games but one MEP from Slovenia put up stern resistance.


Kasparov playing a simul against 30 opponents, among them children...


... and members of the European Parliament


After the simul with EU representatives and children from the vicinity of Strasbourg
it was time for a picture with the world's most famous chess player


Declaration sponsored by five members of the European Parliament

30.11.2011

Written Declaration

pursuant to Rule 123 of the Rules of Procedure on the introduction of the programme ‘Chess in School’ in
the educational systems of the European Union

Slavi Binev, John Attard-Montalto, Nirj Deva,
Mario Mauro, Hannu Takkula

Lapse date: 15.3.2012

Written declaration on the introduction of the programme ‘Chess in School’ in the
educational systems of the European Union

The European Parliament,

– having regard to Articles 6 and 165 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European
Union,

– having regard to Rule 123 of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, in its Article 6, provides
that sport is among the areas ‘where the Union shall have competences to carry out actions
to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the Member States’;

B. whereas chess is an accessible game for children from every social group and can help
social cohesion and contribute to policy objectives such as social integration, combating
discrimination, reducing crime rates and even the fight against various addictions;

C. whereas whatever the age of the child, chess can improve children’s concentration,
patience and persistence and can develop the sense of creativity, intuition, memory, and
analytic and decision-making skills; whereas chess also teaches determination, motivation
and sportsmanship;

1. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to encourage the introduction of the
programme ‘Chess in School’ in the educational systems of the Member States;

2. Calls on the Commission, in its forthcoming communication on sport, to pay the
necessary attention to the program ‘Chess in School’ and to ensure sufficient funding for
it from 2012 onwards;

3. Calls on the Commission to take into consideration the results of any studies on the
effects of this programme on children’s development;

4. Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the
signatories, to the Commission and to the Parliaments of the Member States.

Addendum

After publication we received the following message from Stephen Clark-Foulquier, Brussels:

Dear Chessbase,

As I work at the UK Representaton to the EU, in the European Parliament Team, and was a keen chess player in my youth, I was interested to read your article on the EP written delclaration to get chess on school's curriculum.

I am afraid that though that it is factually not correct that if you obtain the necessary number of MEPs signatures that the European Commission is legally obliged to do anything about it. A written declaration is more like political pressure on the Commission to act in this area, but there is absolutly no legal obligation on the Commission.

Another important factor is that the area of 'education' is not an EU competency but rather it is for EU Member States to decide on their national education policies. It is however possible though for EU countries to work together on education policy and share best practice.

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