12.02.2009
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ESU reacts to the Commission’s education and training strategic framework

It is designed to set the tone for cooperation on education policy across all 27 Member States for the decade ahead.  And last week, ESU had the opportunity to comment on the European Commission’s updated strategic framework for European cooperation on education and training at an annual stakeholder forum event in Brussels.

Having adopted the updated strategic framework on 16 December 2008, the Commission held the second in its annual stakeholder event for education and training partners on 9 February.  ESU was one of around 80 organisations and social partners to take part in the event and to hear first-hand about the proposals.  Whilst welcoming the overall approach of the updated strategic framework, we have three primary areas of concern which centre around lack of stakeholder involvement in the policy development process, the need for a clear set of benchmarks to ensure that fine words on equity are made a reality, and the need to set a minimum level of public financing for HE as a percentage of GDP.

You can read ESU’s full statement on the framework here, or access a summary version here.

The updated strategic framework outlines four key strategic challenges that European cooperation in the field of education and training should address in the years up to 2020.  These are to:

  • Make lifelong learning and learner mobility a reality;
  • Improve the quality and efficiency of provision and outcomes;
  • Promote equity and active citizenship;
  • Enhance innovation and creativity, including entrepreneurship, at all levels of education and training.

The framework goes on to make clear that these challenges should be addressed in a joined-up policy across the systems as a whole (schools, higher education, vocational education and training/VET and adult learning). Lifelong learning is therefore a fundamental perspective underpinning all the above challenges.

Within the framework of strategic objectives to 2020, there is special emphasis on the shorter-term goals for 2009-10.  Among these more immediate objectives are calls for Member States and the Commission to give priority to achieving better implementation of:

  • Lifelong learning strategies: Completing the process of implementation of national lifelong learning strategies, giving particular attention to the validation of non-formal and informal learning and guidance.
  • European Qualifications Framework: Linking all national qualifications systems to the EQF by 2010 and support the use of an approach based on learning outcomes for standards and qualifications, assessment and validation procedures, credit transfer, curricula and quality assurance.

There is also a call for Member States and the Commission to focus on developing policy cooperation on:

  • Expanding learning mobility: Working together to eliminate barriers and expand opportunities for learning mobility within Europe and worldwide, both for higher and other levels of education, including new targets and financing instruments at the European and national levels.

So where does the framework go from here?  On 16th February, it will go for discussion at the meeting of EU Education Ministers in Brussels (the Education Council) and will then go for final approval at the Spring European Council.  Whilst the basic tone of the framework is set, ESU will be using the time that remains before the Spring European Council to lobby for the changes outlined in our briefing.  We will keep you informed of developments as they occur.

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