Delivering lifelong learning for knowledge, creativity and innovation
This report assesses Member States implementation of the ‘Education and Training 2010’ work programme. In addition, the report defines the issues to which particular attention should still be paid, such as skills levels, lifelong learning strategies and the knowledge triangle.
2008 joint progress report of the Council and the Commission on the implementation of the ‘Education and Training 2010’ work programme – ‘Delivering lifelong learning for knowledge, creativity and innovation’ [Official Journal C 86 of 5.4.2008].
This third joint progress report on the implementation of the ‘Education and training 2010’ work programme attests that significant progress has been achieved in many areas. However, further efforts still need to be made, especially with regard to skill levels, lifelong learning strategies and the education, research and innovation “knowledge triangle”.
Overall, progress throughout Europe has not been uniform nor have reforms been realised fast enough. Yet, most of the Member States have either already put into effect reforms, or are currently doing so, with regard to the following:
- development of lifelong learning strategies that define policy priorities and the relationship between different sectors, covering either all aspects of education and training or focusing only on specific systems or stages;
- development of qualifications frameworks and validation of non-formal and informal learning; however, it is now essential that Member States begin the application of these tools;
- pre-primary education, for which a number of Member States have run successful pilot projects on teaching content, staff training, quality assessment and financing that should now be implemented on a broad scale;
- modernisation of higher education, especially in terms of increasing the autonomy of universities;
- mainstreaming education and training at the European Union (EU) policy level, with progress achieved in linking operational programmes to the ‘Education and training 2010’ work programme and in the development of European reference tools, such as the European Qualifications Framework or the key competences.
The areas where progress has been insufficient include the:
- implementation of lifelong learning strategies;
- reduction in the number of early school leavers, increase in the number of young people completing at least upper secondary education and the acquisition of key competences;
- education, continuous training and professional development of teachers;
- attainment of excellence in terms of education, research and knowledge transfer, and increase of both public and private investment in higher education;
- participation of adults in lifelong learning, in particular of older workers and the low skilled;
- improvement of the attractiveness, quality and relevance of vocational education and training (VET), including its proper integration into the rest of the education system;
- increase in transnational mobility schemes provided at national level, with a focus on facilitating mobility also in VET.
Future work should concentrate, in particular, on implementing lifelong learning strategies, emphasising the role of education in the knowledge triangle and improving governance. The Member States’ lifelong learning strategies are not necessarily coherent or comprehensive. The strategies should be better linked to policy measures, the resources should be targeted more effectively and more efforts should be made to develop learning partnerships between national institutions and stakeholders. Hence, it is essential that:
- knowledge about the economic and social impact of education and training policies be improved;
- efforts to secure sustainable funding be strengthened;
- skills levels be raised, especially through the early acquisition of key competences and VET;
- socio-economic disadvantage be addressed, with priority placed on equal access, participation, treatment and outcomes;
- migrants be considered in education and training policies and systems;
- professional preparation and continuing development be provided for teachers.
As one of the fundamental elements of the knowledge triangle, education contributes to boosting growth and jobs. In addition to higher education, schools and VET have a significant role in facilitating innovation. Thus, it is of utmost importance that efforts are stepped up to enable partnerships between educational institutions and businesses and that excellence and key competences are developed throughout the different levels of education and training.
To further improve governance, it is imperative to give due consideration, both at the national and European levels, to the:
- setting of priorities in education and training policy with regard to lifelong learning;
- interlinking of relevant policies (e.g. innovation, research, employment);
- integration of developments in higher education, VET and adult learning within the ‘Education and Training 2010’ work programme;
- link between the Lisbon integrated guidelines and the ‘Education and training 2010’ work programme;
- monitoring of and informing on national policy developments;
- role of the civil society;
- development of benchmarks and indicators;
- use of Community funds and programmes.
While Member States have achieved progress in reforming certain strands of their education systems, persistent as well as certain new challenges still need to be addressed. Efforts to overcome these challenges should be stepped up. It is therefore essential that work on an updated strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training for post-2010 is begun now and that this is closely associated with the future development of the Lisbon process.
For further information, please visit the 'European strategy and cooperation in education and training' website of the European Commission Directorate-General for Education and Culture.