Following the mandate given by the European Council at its Lisbon meeting in March 2000, the Education Council at its meeting of 12 February 2001 adopted the above mentioned report as set out in the Annex, for submission to the European Council in Stockholm (23 and 24 March).
REPORT FROM EDUCATION COUNCIL TO THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL
ON THE CONCRETE FUTURE OBJECTIVES OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING SYSTEMS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. The Challenges
II. The Objectives
- Increasing the quality and effectiveness of education and training systems in the European Union
- Facilitating the access of all to the education and training systems
- Opening up education and training systems to the wider world
III. The future role of education in the Lisbon follow-up
REPORT FROM THE EDUCATION COUNCIL
TO THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL
ON THE CONCRETE FUTURE OBJECTIVES OF
EDUCATION AND TRAINING SYSTEMS
At its Lisbon meeting in March 2000, the European Council invited the Education Council "to undertake a general reflection on the concrete future objectives of education systems, focusing on common concerns and priorities while respecting national diversity, with a view to contributing to the Luxembourg and Cardiff processes and presenting a broader report to the European Council in the Spring of 2001"( 1). The Education Council at its June and November meetings in 2000 invited the Commission to draft a report( 2) on this question which provided input into the Council's own report. The Education Council adopted the report on 12 February, which is hereby submitted to the European Council in Stockholm as endorsed by the Santa Maria da Feira European Council on 19-20 June 2000( 3) and confirmed by the Nice European Council on 7-9 December 2000( 4).
This report covers both education and training systems, as the Council considers that the mandate from the Lisbon European Council is not restricted to education in its traditional sense.
On the basis of contributions from Member States' the Council has identified a number of common priorities for the future and the contribution which the education and training systems must make if the Lisbon goal that Europe should become "the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion" is to achieved. At the same time, the Council notes the principle that an important role of Education is to promote the humanistic values shared by our societies. The Council has also considered the general aims which society attributes to education and training :
- the development of the individual, who can thus realise his or her full potential and live a good life;
- the development of society, in particular by fostering democracy, reducing the disparities and inequities among individuals and groups and promoting cultural diversity,
- the development of the economy, by ensuring that the skills of the labour force correspond to the economic and technological evolution.
The Council has in its work noted the measures taken by the Commission since the Lisbon European Council - most notably the publication of the Communications on "e-learning", and the Memorandum of Lifelong Learning which were presented to the Education Council on 9 November 2000 and will discuss the developments in this area. ( 5)
I. THE CHALLENGES
The world is characterised by rapid change, increasing globalisation and growing complexity in terms of economic and socio-cultural relations. The speed of these changes is reflected in the context within which any reflection on the future objectives of the education and training systems must be placed. New economic structures and societies are increasingly driven by information and knowledge. In particular, computers are becoming more widely available at work and at home, and this relative familiarity with information and communication technology (ICT) forms a backdrop against which the future of education and training must be planned.
The citizens of Europe are already among the best educated in the world and the European education and training systems rank among the best in the world. However, Europe should plan ahead to remain competitive on a global scale, including the use of the new ICTs.
1.1 The changes in working life
The nature of work is changing and skills required from employees and managers are changing. Examples of this change are an increasing knowledge intensity in products, an increasing proportion of the workforce in the service sector, changing work organisations that demand new skills, and the role of enterprises as training providers. Knowledge can not be expected to remain static throughout life the way it used to. Lifelong learning in the context of employability will in many areas be a prerequisite to stay attractive to the labour market. This development of the knowledge society should not allow the creation of social barriers, but rather overcome them. These challenges are common to all education and training systems and they will need to anticipate and adapt to the rapid changes. Common objectives, discussion on possible solutions and exchange of good practice will be important instruments to meet these challenges together.
1.2 Society, demography and migration
Firstly, the demographic structure is changing. The proportion of older people has never been greater. We are living longer and more actively than ever before. Young and skilled people are becoming a scarce resource, particularly in countries with tight labour markets. To be able to obtain sustainable development in our societies this trend needs to be considered carefully.
The challenge of these demographic trends on education and training systems implies:
- the need to encourage people to continue learning whether through the traditional education and training paths or through work-based learning, and thus to become more employable and entrepreneurial,
- the need to provide for information and guidance and continuing education and training for people during a longer and more active life-span.
The teaching profession itself has also to face up to demographic change. Within the Union, about half of teachers are aged 40 or more and 20% will have retired within the next ten years. There are considerable variations, however; the proportion of teachers due to retire within 10 years in some countries is much higher, reaching 75 and 80%. The implications of this for teacher education and recruitment are very serious, particularly combined with the difficulty which some countries experience in attracting good recruits.
Additionally, migration flows are now more varied. This confronts the education and training systems with the reality of a diversified and multilingual public to serve. The migration streams to the EU should also be seen in the perspective of sustainable development.
1.3 Equal opportunities and social exclusion
Education and training are a structural means by which society can help its citizens to have equitable access to prosperity, democratic decision-making and individual socio-cultural development. Access to the updating of skills throughout their lives therefore becomes a key element in the fight against social exclusion, and in the promotion of equal opportunities in the widest sense. Education and training systems should aim to contribute to the creation of an inclusive society by ensuring that structures and mechanisms are in place to remove discrimination at all levels. Within this context, specific regard has to be paid to vulnerable groups such as people with special educational needs.
1.4 Enlargement round the corner
Following the European Council’s agreements in Nice, enlargement of the Union is on the medium term horizon. That will affect the objectives of education and training systems within the Union itself – but still more, perhaps, those of the applicant countries. The objectives in this report apply equally to the applicant countries – with, in some cases, inevitable differences of priority or accent. ( 6)
II. THE OBJECTIVES
In the light of these challenges and developments, with the aim of contributing to the "new strategic goal" for Europe, the Ministers of Education have adopted the following concrete strategic objectives for the coming ten years.
¨Increasing the quality and effectiveness of education and training
systems in the European Union
¨Facilitating the access of all to the education and training systems
¨Opening up education and training systems to the wider world
These common objectives provide a basis for Member States to work together at European level over the next ten years to contribute to the achievement of the goals set out by Lisbon, especially in the context of the Luxembourg and Cardiff processes.
The realisation of these objectives is a major challenge for the education and training systems. In particular the high priority given to learning at all stages of life will imply a demand for adequate resources.
2.1 OBJECTIVE 1 :
INCREASING THE QUALITY AND EFFECTIVENESS OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING SYSTEMS IN THE EUROPEAN UNION
Raising the quality and standard of learning is essential if Europe is to become a more competitive and dynamic society and its citizens are to be better able to develop their own skills and competencies and realise their potential as citizens, as members of society, and as economic agents. People who are not prepared for those changes are particularly at risk of being excluded in the future. Evidence indeed suggests that individuals without adequate qualifications are four times more likely to be unemployed. Hence, preventing and combating unemployment and social exclusion starts by increasing the quality of education and training provision, including work-based learning.
2.1.1 Improving education and training for teachers and trainers
Upgrading the initial education and in-service training of teachers and trainers so that their knowledge and skills respond both to the changes and expectations in society, and to the varied groups they teach and train is a major challenge to the education and training systems over the next 10 years.
Teachers and trainers play an important role in the motivation and success of learners. Future oriented training is now essential – the majority of teachers qualified 25 years ago or more, and the upgrading of their skills has in some cases not kept pace with change. Equally, the role of teachers and trainers has changed – they continue to impart knowledge; but today they also function as tutors guiding learners on their individual pathway to knowledge. Training should enable teachers and trainers to motivate their learners not only to acquire the theoretical knowledge and vocational skills they need, but also to assume the responsibility for their own learning, so that they have the competencies required for both society and work today. Finally; the question of recruitment and the status of teachers has to be addressed.
2.1.2 Developing skills for the knowledge society
Increasing literacy and numeracy
Ensuring that all citizens achieve an operational level of literacy and numeracy is an essential precondition to quality learning. These are the key to all subsequent learning capabilities, as well as to employability. Some groups (e.g., those whose mother tongue is not the language of learning) could be particularly vulnerable.
It is a mistake to see literacy and numeracy as skills which are acquired in school, and then stay for the rest of an individual's life. Although the problem is chiefly perceived as relating to initial education and training, research increasingly suggests that these skills deteriorate without use, and that over time, people can end up by losing them altogether. In a society which enables people to absorb more and more without reading, other means have to be found to persuade them that developing and maintaining literacy and numeracy skills at effective levels is essential both personally and professionally.
Updating the definition of basic skills for the knowledge society
The basic skills which society requires education and training to deliver are those which give an individual a secure foundation for life and work. They thus cover the vocational and technical skills, as well as social and personal competencies, including awareness of arts and culture, which enable people to work together and be active citizens. The increased pace of change in society and in the economy, in particular the introduction of the ICTs, requires us to keep the definition of relevant skills under review, to adapt it to those changes on a regular basis and to make sure that those who left formal education or training before the new skills were widely taught, have a chance to acquire them later.
Maintaining the ability to learn
The changing nature of society and of work means that increasingly, professional or vocational skills are not enough. At work, the complexity of work organisation, the increase in the types of task that employees are called upon to carry out, the introduction of flexible work patterns and of team working methods, mean that the range of skills used in the work place is constantly widening. Similarly, society as a whole is less uniform than in the past, so personal competencies (such as adaptability, tolerance of others and of authority, team work, problem solving and risk taking, independence, etc) are more widely required if people are to live together in tolerance and respect for each other. The most important of these competencies is the ability to learn – maintaining curiosity and interest in new developments and skills – without which lifelong learning cannot exist. For many teachers, however, this ability is difficult to stimulate; and its development should therefore be a focus both of teacher training and of educational research in the coming years.
2.1.3 Ensuring access to ICTs for everyone
The developing use of ICT within society has meant a revolution in the way schools, training institutions and other learning centres could work, as indeed it has changed the way in which very many people in Europe work. ICT is also of increasing importance in open learning environments and in virtual teaching. As far as the education and training systems are concerned, the ability to respond to the rapid developments and the need to stay competitive will continue to play an important role. In addition, flexibility will be needed for individuals to acquire ICT skills throughout their lives. The outcome will depend on issues such as flexible organisations, sufficient resources and in particular continuing focus on:
Equipping schools and learning centres
Here, Lisbon set a target that Member States should ensure all schools have access to Internet and multimedia resources by the end of 2001. With considerable national effort, supported in some cases by the EU Structural Funds, this target will be achieved. The challenge for the future is to ensure that schools as well as learning centres, have enough equipment, multimedia resources and high quality educational and training software and high speed connections for learners to be able to get a real advantage from available resources and interactive possibilities on Internet.
Involving teachers and trainers
Here, too, Lisbon set a target that all teachers needed should be skilled in the use of the Internet and multimedia resources by the end of 2002. The importance of providing good training for teachers is recognised by all Member States. Perhaps this has become more important now, as new pedagogical issues arise around ways to encourage people to develop the specific skills to use ICTs in the learning process - such as the selection of relevant information, its analysis and its subsequent transformation into knowledge and skill. For teachers, the issue is also not just about connectivity and training, it is about continuously equipping them with the skills and a selection of high quality software to integrate ICT into their daily practice.
Using networks and resources
The use of school networks is developing rapidly. Many Member States have specific networks for education and training, which they use to provide teachers with training and materials, classes with means and methods of co-operation both within and between schools, and individual learners with access to materials related to curricula or indeed with interactive facilities. At the same time, the availability of multimedia resources, and their linguistic diversity is expanding, and schools and teachers are becoming more accustomed to their use. Assistance and advice in the selection of multimedia resources will be a priority for teachers and will provide for systems of validation and possibilities for exchange of good practice.
2.1.4 Increasing the recruitment to scientific and technical studies
Europe needs an adequate throughput of mathematics and scientific specialists in order to maintain its competitiveness.
In many countries interest in mathematics and science studies is falling or not developing as fast as it should. This can be seen at school, where the uptake of these subjects by pupils is lower than could be expected; in the attitude of young people and parents to these subjects and later in the level of new recruitment to research and related professions. There is also a problem of recruiting women to these fields as well as the serious problem of keeping highly skilled researchers inside the borders of the EU.
The present situation is already a cause for concern to employers; but further work would be required to analyse the full range of reasons why many of those qualified to do research in these fields do not find them sufficiently attractive, and choose to take up quite unrelated professions.
As we are moving into a knowledge society, we will need to increase the general levels of scientific culture within society. Expertise in science and technology is increasingly called upon to contribute to public debate, decision making and legislation. The citizen needs to have a basic understanding of mathematics and science if they are to understand the issues, and make informed - even if not technical – choices.
2.1.5 Making the best use of resources
The pressure to use available resources – whether human or financial – to the best possible effect, is part of the daily life of schools and training institutions across the EU. Mechanisms that can help include:
Improving quality assurance
Quality assurance systems are an essential part of an effective education and training system. ( 7) The techniques that enable quality to be measured are available, though not all countries have the same experience of their use in education and training. Their introduction requires an effort of training for those concerned. Their application leads to increases in quality, not just in the administration involved in delivering education and training, but in the quality of the learning experience provided.
Ensuring efficient use of resources
The combination of increasing investment in human resources and a greater pressure for success means that needs have to be carefully targeted. This in turn implies that relevant authorities could take into account the expertise of Member States that have developed systems for measuring performances of institutions and the outcome of national policies.
2.2. OBJECTIVE 2:
FACILITATING THE ACCESS OF ALL TO EDUCATION AND TRAINING SYSTEMS
Everyone accepts that education and training systems must adapt to a world of lifelong learning. This requires inclusive and coherent education and training systems, which are attractive both to young people and adults, as well as a strategy which overcomes the traditional barriers between the various parts of formal education and training and non-formal and informal learning. High quality basic education for all, from early childhood onwards, is the essential foundation. However, the change in the demographic structure – the proportion of young people in society has never been smaller – reinforces the importance of encouraging continuing learning in the older age groups too.
2.2.1 Open learning environment
Facilitating access to lifelong learning is rightly seen as the most significant challenge by all Member States. All Member States recognise that changes in the nature of work and of the availability of information mean that a continuing appetite for learning and for information are crucial for individuals as well as for society and the economy.
Meeting this challenge involves first and foremost a recognition that change is needed in the ways education and training are delivered. It implies that all parts of those systems have to become more democratic and more welcoming in their attitude to learners – particularly higher education. Guidance and counselling have to become more readily available, and greater use made of different ways to individualise learning pathways. Flexible guidance and information systems need to be designed and adapted to local conditions within a lifelong learning perspective. Extending education and training in this way will raise issues such as adaptation to family-friendly timetables to the availability of child care during courses, location and affordability of learning opportunities, and the recognition of prior non-formal and informal learning gained outside formal education and training systems. ICT and the development of open learning environments can also provide the means of facilitating access to education and training.
It also requires further extension of education towards very young children providing a combination of play and learning opportunities, and providing children with a better social base to move forward effectively into the more formal learning process of school.
The way in which education and training systems are organised can also make access more difficult. Are the systems flexible enough, do they provide entry points at all stages from early childhood right through to later life, how easy is it to move from a qualification of one stream to a qualification in another, do all paths enable the learner to go forward into higher or further education and training? Questions such as these can affect individuals, each with their own circumstances and ambitions, to move forward within learning or to opt out or not come back in.
Whatever the particular measures for lifelong learning devised in individual Member States, industries, occupational sectors or individual companies, the important point is raising the investment in human resources and allocating the necessary funding. This requires moving towards a culture of shared responsibilities, involvement of the social partners, public-private partnerships and co-financing arrangements for participation in lifelong learning.
2.2.2 Making learning more attractive
Individual motivation to learn and a variety of learning opportunities are the ultimate keys to implementing lifelong learning successfully. This means finding ways of supporting individuals in learning through the use of incentives whether in a formal education or work environment. However, we also need to ensure that incentives are available to encourage young people to consider further education as a viable alternative to work. Systems for validating professional experience should also be developed to support those moving from the labour market to training.
2.2.3 Supporting active citizenship, equal opportunities and social cohesion
Part of the learning process is the promotion of active citizenship. The focus of active citizenship is on whether and how people participate in all spheres of social and economic life, the chances and risks they face in trying to do so, and the extent to which they therefore feel that they belong to and have a fair say in the society in which they live. The promotion of active citizenship and employability are to be seen as complementary. Both depend upon people having adequate and up-to-date knowledge and skills to take part in and make a contribution to economic and social life throughout their lives. In this context, it is important to reduce school failures. At the same time it has to be noted that non-formal learning also promotes young people's employability and develops their competencies and skills.
Since education and training are instruments in the hands of society, they should be used to develop the sort of society we want. This means that the education and training systems have to lead people to accept that racism and intolerance have no place in our society; that discrimination on any ground – such as gender, religion, colour or ethnic origin – is unacceptable. As learning becomes more important in the knowledge society, and people are led to participate more actively in it, opportunities must be open to them to access education and training. In order to develop citizenship through education and training systems, it is necessary to encourage the participation of the various stakeholders.
2.3 OBJECTIVE 3:
OPENING UP EDUCATION AND TRAINING SYSTEMS TO THE WIDER WORLD
There is consensus about the need to open up education and training systems to the influence of other parts of society, at a local and national as well as an international level.
First, this opening up is necessary because of the increased mobility, both professional and geographical, of individuals during their lives. Secondly, we also need citizens who, in addition to their particular vocational skills, have the ability to work and communicate with others across national boundaries; this is one way in which Europe adapts to meet the challenges of a global economy. Lastly, all citizens should learn skills required in an increasingly international and multi-cultural society.
At the same time, Europe is confronted by the challenge of making its education and training systems competitive. People want to decide themselves where to complete their training. Clear strategies are therefore required to increase the attractiveness of European education and training systems, to Europeans and to non-Europeans.
European countries are faced individually with challenges to the adaptability of education and training systems that would be easier to address together. Further, against the background of enlargement of the European Union, co-operation in the field of education and training with non-EU countries should be strengthened. Within this context, five particular intermediate objectives stand out.
2.3.1 Strengthening the links with working life and research, and society at large
The need for schools and training institutions to relate to the world of work is widely acknowledged. In the area of training, work placements are valuable in enhancing employability and in offering an insight into the world of work. Links with employers are also important, for example, in providing trainers with a perspective on future skill needs.
Within educational and training systems, attitudes have sometimes been closed to outside influences – not least because of the size and ramifications of education and training systems, the numbers of people they employ and affect, and the importance attached to them politically. However, society’s best interest may be served by encouraging wider outside interest in educational and training systems. Education and training systems should see what can be learned from such involvement in terms of motivating learners and of injecting a new perspective into educational or training establishments.
It is also important to European competitiveness to see education and training systems as part of national and European innovation and progress. Co-operation between educational institutions, business enterprises, research institutions and major public sector partners should be encouraged.
2.3.2 Developing the spirit of enterprise
The Lisbon conclusions underline the need for European societies to become more entrepreneurial. They point to the need to create "a friendly environment for starting up and developing innovative businesses", and to the need for Europe to make progress generally in this area. Education and training should provide opportunities to acquire skills needed to set up and run a business.
Entrepreneurship is wider than business activity – an active and reactive spirit – something that society as a whole should value and invest in. Education and training establishments should therefore stimulate learners' skills and spirit of enterprise throughout their education and training.
2.3.3 Improving foreign language learning
Improving foreign language learning is essential if Europe is to achieve its potential, be it economic, cultural or social. Europe is multilingual and foreign language teaching should reflect this – as it increasingly does. The learning of foreign languages as part of education and training is important not only for the cultural enrichment of the individual but also as a contribution to mobility and European competitiveness.
Early foreign language learning can be a key to greater language success later in life. Not only does it anchor the concept of foreign language in a child’s mind at a period when the child is most receptive, it also enables interest about a society’s neighbours and partners to be developed in new ways. Further initiatives in this area are to be encouraged.
However, foreign language skills can better be achieved if built on a solid base of mastering the mother-tongue. Both foreign language learning and mother-tongue acquisition in oral and written form, should be stimulated as complementary tools for better preparation of citizens to the challenges of today's society.
2.3.4 Increasing mobility and exchanges
Over the last 10 years or so, not least because of interest sparked by the Community exchange programmes "Socrates", "Leonardo da Vinci" and "Youth", many educational and training institutions have opened up to mobility and exchanges.
Exchanges provide participants with a new view on the world – a practical use for foreign language skills, motivation for learners, teachers and trainers, and a possibility to interact with the world. International exchanges also provide a different perspective on the learning process, and the possibility for teachers and trainers to share good practice with their foreign colleagues, and to learn from each other.
As decided at the European Council in Nice, where the resolution on an action plan for mobility was approved, it is now necessary to increase and democratise mobility and exchanges and to widen the range of educational and training institutions which take part in such activities. This implies targeting of resources towards educational and training institutions not yet active in mobility and exchanges.
2.3.5 Strengthening European co-operation
Future-oriented education and training policy can no longer be shaped without reference to developments in Europe and the world at large. We must create a genuine co-operation area for our citizens and educational establishments, a basis for a Europe without frontiers in education and training. This presupposes strengthened cross-border co-operation, the systematic networking of training establishments, the development of accreditation systems, and the wide scale recognition of qualifications and diplomas.
One example of this co-operation is the "Bologna process", initiated by the Declaration on a European Higher Education Area which was signed by representatives of 29 European countries in 1999. An example in another sector is represented by the Florence Declaration on "Learning in Europe", signed by eight European countries also in 1999.
Education for democratic citizenship has to be promoted beyond the borders of the European Union. Strategic co-operation with the accession countries as well as with the countries of South-East Europe should build foundations for the development of a European society. At the same time, European co-operation should take into account among others the valuable work and experience of international organisations active in the field of education, such as UNESCO, OECD and the Council of Europe.
THE FUTURE ROLE OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN THE LISBON FOLLOW-UP
The future of the Union requires a solid contribution from the world of education and training. It requires that education and training systems can be adapted and developed so as to deliver the skills and competencies everyone needs in the knowledge society; to make lifelong learning attractive and rewarding; and to reach out to everyone in society, however far from education and training they may consider themselves, with ways of developing their skills and making the best use of them.
The work programme implicit in the three concrete objectives set out in this report is substantial and provides ample work for the Education Council during the next decade. In its resolution on new working procedures for European cooperation in the field of education and training( 8) (otherwise known as "the rolling agenda") the Council has stressed the need for a coherent approach to actions at Community level and a structured framework for political discussions and activities over the coming years. This will enable greater continuity, efficiency and effectiveness and a strengthening of the political impact of Community co-operation. If the knowledge society is to become a reality, all actors in the education and training process have to be ready to learn; and mutual learning between Member States, as implicit within an "open method of co-ordination" is a way of increasing the quality of service delivered to the citizen.
During the year 2001, the Education Council, in co-operation with the Commission, will define
¨how to measure the achievement of the concrete objectives,
¨what concrete work should be undertaken, at European level, in each of the areas concerned,
¨which areas are suitable for peer review, exchange of good practice, and how progress could be measured using benchmarks,
¨which areas will need indicators, and if new indicators have to be defined or whether existing indicators can be used.
The outcome of this process will be subject of a new report from the Education Council to the European Council in spring 2002. The Education Council intends thereafter to report at regular intervals to the European Council on the implementation of the mandate it received at the Lisbon European Council, in order to actively contribute to the achievement of the strategic goals set there.
In parallel, consideration will need to be given to the way in which education and training are represented within the Luxembourg and Cardiff processes, the implementation of the Social Agenda and the Commission's annual Synthesis Report.
Consideration will also need to be given to how the outcome of the consultations on lifelong learning initiated by the Commission could be included in the work programme resulting from the present report.
The Education Council stresses that the legal provisions of Articles 149 and 150 apply in these fields, and therefore apply to any work done there as part of the implementation of the "open method of co-ordination".
( 1) Presidency Conclusions, paragraph 27.
( 2)Report from the Commission on the concrete future objectives of Education systems (COM (2001) 59 final), soon available with the number 5688/01 EDUC 20.
( 3)Presidency Conclusions, paragraph 32.
( 4)Presidency Conclusions, paragraph 34.
( 5)A summary of these EU level initiatives will be found in Annex II of the Commission report.
( 6)Education Ministers will discuss the issues at a Joint Ministerial Conference with the applicant countries, which will be held in Riga on 29-30 June 2001.
( 7)A recommendation of the European Parliament and the Council on Quality evaluation in schools is in course of adoption, and a recommendation of the Council on Quality assurance in higher education has been adopted.
( 8)Council Resolution of 17 December 1999on 'Into the new millennium: developing new working procedures for European co-operation in the field of education and training' O.J. C8 12.1.2000, p. 6.