A coherent framework of indicators and benchmarks for monitoring the Lisbon objectives
The purpose of the framework of indicators and benchmarks proposed in this communication is to monitor the Lisbon objectives in education and training. Progress in this field will be evaluated in the context of the aim of making European education and training systems a world quality reference by 2010.
Communication from the Commission of 21 February 2007 – “A coherent framework of indicators and benchmarks for monitoring progress towards the Lisbon objectives in education and training” [COM(2007) 61 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
Indicators and benchmarks are needed to monitor the progress that is essential to the Lisbon process. The current framework is based on the Education and Training 2010 programme and consists of a set of 20 essential indicators (the “core indicators”), which are supported by context indicators, and five benchmarks.
This framework facilitates the sharing of experiences and best practice and makes it possible to:
- provide statistical underpinning for key policy messages;
- analyse progress towards the Lisbon objectives, at both European Union (EU) and national level;
- identify examples of good performance that can be disseminated in EU countries;
- compare EU performance with that of non-EU countries, such as the USA and Japan.
FRAMEWORK OF INDICATORS AND BENCHMARKS
The framework of indicators and benchmarks consists of core indicators, which are of a general nature, and context indicators, which allow a greater degree of precision.
The indicators and benchmarks are centred around eight key policy domains identified in the Education and Training 2010 strategy, namely:
- making education and training fairer;
- promoting efficiency in education and training;
- making lifelong learning a reality;
- key skills for young people;
- modernising school education;
- modernising vocational education and training (the Copenhagen process);
- modernising higher education (the Bologna process);
Making education and training fairer
European education and training systems must be fair. Fairness is assessed by looking at the extent to which individuals take advantage of education and training in terms of opportunities, access, treatment and outcomes. Certain key themes, such as the promotion of gender equality and the integration of ethnic minorities and disabled persons, need to be monitored.
In order to ensure effective participation in lifelong learning, the proportion of early school-leavers must be reduced. The Council has therefore set a benchmark of limiting to 10% the proportion of early school-leavers.
Progress in this area will be assessed on the basis of the following core indicators:
- participation in pre-school education;
- special needs education;
- early school-leavers.
The indicator on the stratification of education and training systems will make it possible to assess the impact of the structure of education and training systems and differences between educational establishments.
Promoting efficiency in education and training
It has been shown that improving efficiency is not necessarily detrimental to the fairness of education systems. Efficiency and fairness can go hand in hand.
The efficiency of European education and training systems is mainly a matter of making the best possible use of resources. Private and public investment must be supported, as must investment in higher education. Indeed, the latter receives less funding than in some non-EU countries.
Efficiency will be assessed in the light of investment in education and training.
Making lifelong learning a reality
Lifelong learning is crucial for competitiveness, employability, economic prosperity, social inclusion, active citizenship and the personal fulfilment of people living and working in the knowledge-based economy.
In order to have a career and participate fully in lifelong learning, it is essential to complete upper secondary education. In view of this, the Council has adopted two benchmarks, namely that by 2010, 85% of young people should complete upper secondary education and that by 2010, 12.5% of the adult population should participate in lifelong learning.
The core indicators for monitoring progress in this area are:
- participation of adults in lifelong learning;
- adults’ skills.
What is more, the indicator on upper secondary completion rates will make it possible to assess the degree to which young people are ready to participate in lifelong learning.
Key skills for young people
Acquiring basic skills is an essential prerequisite for working in a knowledge-based society. This is why the Council has set a benchmark aimed at reducing by at least 20% the number of low-achieving 15-year-olds in reading as compared to the 2000 level.
The core indicators allowing an overall assessment of basic skills are based on the following key skills:
- literacy in reading, mathematics and science;
- language skills;
- ICT (information and communication technologies) skills;
- civic skills;
- learning to learn.
Modernising school education
The quality of school education depends on improving the initial training of teachers and the participation of all teachers in continuing professional development. The Council has also deemed that tools such as school self-evaluation are essential. Accordingly, training in the management and use of these tools must be promoted.
Progress in this area will be monitored using the following core indicators:
- early school-leavers;
- school management;
- schools as multi-purpose local learning centres;
- professional development of teachers and trainers.
Modernising vocational education and training (VET)
In line with the Copenhagen process, the image and appeal of vocational training for employers must be improved, levels of participation in VET must be increased and quality and flexibility in initial vocational education and training must be encouraged.
Progress will be assessed using the core indicator on upper secondary completion rates among young people, with particular attention being given to vocational streams.
The indicator on the stratification of education and training systems measures the degree to which initial vocational education and training is available in the structure of the education and training system.
Furthermore, the context indicator on participation in continuing vocational education and training will allow an assessment of the role of businesses in the participation of their employees in continuing vocational training and its financing.
Modernising higher education
Modernising higher education and increasing funding to university research will contribute to the EU’s objective of becoming a competitive knowledge-based economy. Moreover, the Bologna process has the aim of creating, by 2010, a European Higher Education Area with a common degree structure so as to encourage mobility among students and workers.
The benchmarks for assessing the modernisation of higher education are that of devoting at least 2% of GDP (including both public and private funding) by 2015 to modernising higher education and that of increasing by 15% the number of graduates in mathematics, science and technology by 2010.
Progress will be measured using the following three core indicators:
- higher education graduates;
- transnational mobility of students in higher education;
- investment in education and training.
In order to meet the challenge of achieving a higher level of employment, the Council has set objectives for overall employment rates, employment rates for older workers and employment rates for women.
People’s employability and capacity to adapt throughout their life depend on their level of education and their key skills.
The indicators used for employability are:
- educational attainment of the population;
- adults’ skills;
- results produced by education and training.
DATA SOURCES SUPPORTING THE COHERENT FRAMEWORK
The framework of indicators and benchmarks is based on data that mainly come from the European Statistical System (ESS).
Data provided by the ESS
Several different sources are used within the ESS to produce data on education and training and establish indicators. These can be divided into two groups.
The first group encompasses the annual UNESCO/OECD/Eurostat (UOE) data collection on formal education systems in EU countries, the five-yearly Continuing Vocational Training Survey (CVTS), which collects information on training at enterprise level and the five-yearly Adult Education Survey (AES), which provides information on adult learning habits.
The second group includes general sources of information such as the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and the EU Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC). There are also other specific sources (surveys on the use of ICT in households and companies).
Acquiring internationally comparable data is a matter of interest for individual countries. Various countries are thus making their statistical infrastructures better equipped to produce information on the schools and students whose work the EU is tracking.
Data produced outside the ESS
The ESS cannot provide the full statistical infrastructure required for the framework of indicators and benchmarks. Eurydice and Cedefop, in cooperation with Eurostat, are responsible for the data and context indicators that support this framework.
Furthermore, the Commission may decide to put forward its own procedures for creating data-collection tools, such as in the field of language knowledge. It has also prepared a recommendation on the creation of a survey tool in the area of “learning to learn”, and a transnational pilot survey is planned for 2007.
The Commission also cooperates with international organisations such as the OECD, which produce their own indicators, and with EU countries.
In 2002, the Heads of State and Government agreed to make European education and training systems a world quality reference by 2010. As part of the Lisbon strategy, common objectives for improving education and training systems were adopted by the Ministers of Education. The Education and Training 2010 work programme was drawn up so as to achieve these objectives.
The coherent framework of indicators and benchmarks covered by this communication will make it possible to assess the progress made. It replaces the framework that was in place for the 2004-06 period, in comparison with which it is more streamlined. Indeed, the 2004-06 framework was made up of 29 indicators and five benchmarks intended to measure progress in the 13 objectives then in place.