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EU member states fail to reach education targets

BRUSSELS – Only one out of five education benchmarks which were set for 2010 were achieved by the EU member states. This says the progress report (1) from the European Commission on education and training, released on 19 April. Bert Vandenkendelaere, Chairperson of the European Students’ Union (ESU) said: “Although we can clearly see a rise in education levels in Europe, a lot still needs to be done in order to reach the EU 2020 education targets and prevent another EU strategy from failing.”

Vandenkendelaere continued: “Putting money into higher education is not a cost, but an investment in a prosperous future. We know that you cannot squeeze blood out of water but students should not be the number one victim of an economic crisis that was caused by inconsiderate mistakes from a previous generation.”
Five benchmarks
In 2009, EU education ministers agreed on five education and training benchmarks to be attained by 2020 (2). Two of these targets – to reduce early school leaving from 14.5 percent to fewer than 10 percent and to increase the number of higher education graduates from 31 percent to at least 40 percent – are also key objectives in the Europe 2020 strategy. A progress report from the Commission on this Strategy, released in February, revealed that many member states did not yet take the right measures to achieve those two targets.

Vandenkendelaere: “The Commission and member states should step up a gear and take timely and just measures to reach these targets. This could ward off a failure of some of the good aspects of the Europe 2020 strategy which aims to create smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in the EU and in particular to improve investments in higher education and innovation.”


Published: 19 April 2011

(2) At  least 95% of children between the age of four and the age for starting compulsory primary education should participate in early childhood education; the share of 15-years olds with insufficient abilities in reading, mathematics and science should be less than 15%; the share of early leavers from education and training should be less than 10%; the share of 30-34 year olds with tertiary educational attainment should be at least 40%; an average of at least 15 % of adults (age group 25-64) should participate in lifelong learning.

For more information, please contact:
Bert Vandenkendelaere, ESU Chairperson: +32473669892 or
Marianne Slegers, ESU Communications Manager: +32473669894 or


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