– having regard to Articles 149 and 150 of the EC Treaty,
– having regard to the Commission Communication of 12 November 2007 entitled 'Delivering lifelong learning for knowledge, creativity and innovation: Draft 2008 joint progress report of the Council and the Commission on the implementation of the Education and Training 2010 work programme' (COM(2007)0703), as well as to the accompanying Commission Staff Working Document (SEC(2007)1484),
– having regard to the detailed work programme on the follow-up of the objectives of Education and training systems in Europe(1) and to the subsequent joint interim reports on progress towards its implementation,
– having regard to the Council Resolution of 15 November 2007 on education and training as a key driver of the Lisbon Strategy(2),
– having regard to Decision No 1720/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 November 2006 establishing an action programme in the field of lifelong learning(3),
– having regard to the Council Resolution of 15 November 2007 on the new skills for new jobs(4),
– having regard to the Commission Staff Working Document of 28 August 2007 entitled 'Towards more knowledge-based policy and practice in education and training' (SEC(2007) 1098),
– having regard to the Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2008 on the establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning(5),
– having regard to the Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 February 2006 on further European cooperation in quality assurance in higher education(6),
– having regard to the European Quality Charter for Mobility(7),
– having regard to its resolution of 13 November 2007 on the role of sport in education(8),
– having regard to the Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 on key competences for lifelong learning(9),
– having regard to its resolution of 16 January 2008 on adult learning: "It is never too late to learn"(10),
– having regard to its resolution of 23 September 2008 on the Bologna Process and student mobility(11),
– having regard to its resolution of 23 September 2008 on improving the quality of teacher education(12),
– having regard to the Presidency Conclusions of the European Council of 13-14 March 2008,
– having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,
– having regard to the report of the Committee on Culture and Education and the opinion of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (A6-0455/2008),
A. whereas European Union is seeking, by 2010, become a world leader in the quality of education and training systems, such systems being crucial to further progress in the Lisbon Process,
B. Whereas progress has been made in increasing the autonomy and the accountability of universities and whereas there is a need to strengthen the support offered to them within this process,
C. whereas education and training systems should provide equal opportunities for women and men,
D. whereas incorporating the gender equality dimension into education and training policies is crucial to the success of the Lisbon Strategy, one objective of which is to tackle inequalities between women and men in European labour markets, inter alia by achieving a 60% rate of employment among women by 2010,
E. whereas Member States must, by working together and exchanging good practice, drive forward reform of their national education and training systems,
F. whereas coherent and comprehensive lifelong learning strategies and tools agreed by the European Parliament and the Council should be implemented consistently in order to achieve the Lisbon objectives and to strengthen the knowledge triangle,
G. whereas Europe needs higher skill levels, and whereas creativity and innovation ought to be promoted at all stages of education and training,
H. whereas provision has to be made for future skills needs in the areas of the environment and society, for example by making climate change and other environmental issues cross-cutting subjects in all forms of learning,
I. whereas curricula should contribute to students' personal development by including the teaching of human rights and European values,
J. whereas the quality and effectiveness of education and training systems, and their accessibility to citizens, must be seen as major policy goals at European level,
K. whereas education and training must always have regard to local and regional possibilities, characteristics and needs,
1. Welcomes the above-mentioned Commission Communication of 12 November 2007 and the improvements it details;
2. Notes that action in the field of education and training should be consistently supported with complementary measures of a socio-economic nature to improve the overall standard of living of European citizens;
3. Stresses the need to integrate migrants and minorities (especially Roma people), and to work on the inclusion of groups with special needs (primarily women and disabled and elderly people) at all levels and in all areas of education; considers that additional support should be provided to migrants, whilst ethnic minorities and Roma people should be assisted by trained staff who belong to the same minority or at least speak their native language;
4. Underlines the importance of sport in education and training and the need to give sport particular consideration, for example by enhancing the provision of physical education and sport throughout all forms of education, from pre-primary to university and calls for at least three teaching periods per week to be set aside for sport in the curriculum and for support to be made available for schools to go beyond this prescribed minimum where possible;
5. Emphasises the crucial role of families and the social environment in every aspect of education and training;
6. Notes that education is essential for the social and personal development of both women and men; underlines, therefore, the importance of reinforcing education and training as a fundamental aspect of promoting equality between women and men;
7. Deplores the fact that educational systems discourage women from entering traditionally male-dominated fields of employment and vocational training, but welcomes measures promoting gender equality and urges Member States to launch programmes aimed at giving women the most diversified professional guidance possible and subsequent assistance in the employment market;
8. Stresses that the existing inequality of opportunity between women and men as regards high-quality lifelong teaching and education are all the more marked in island regions and geographically and socially disadvantaged regions; calls therefore for greater promotion of educational initiatives in the framework of regional policy;
9. Notes the chronic under-representation of women in certain fields of study, at all levels, as well as in the research sector; encourages therefore practical, positive actions to be taken to remedy the situation;
10. Observes that students with interrupted study patterns, especially young mothers, can suffer discrimination, and calls for the adoption of more flexible approaches in order to facilitate the resumption of studies or training after the birth of a child and the combining of studies with professional and family life;
11. Observes that the quality of curricula and teaching must be improved across the board, that teachers’ social security must be improved, and that more attention must be paid to their continuing training and mobility;
12. Emphasises that media literacy and ICT knowledge should be strongly promoted and recommends both that media education should form an integral part of the curriculum at all levels of schooling and that media teaching modules should be offered for teachers and elderly people;
13. Points out that the transition between different education and training systems and between formal, non-formal and informal learning must be facilitated;
14. Urges the Council to monitor the practical implementation of European education and learning policies by every Member State; considers that national governments should set national goals in this field in a transparent manner, and should introduce appropriate legislation and relevant measures to ensure the achievement of European standards, and, in particular, to ensure that tools adopted at EU level, such as the recommendation on key competences for lifelong learning, the European Qualifications Framework and Europass, are implemented;
15. Stresses the need for increased resources for improving material and space conditions and for ongoing staff training to raise the quality of pre-primary education and provide increased resources for investment. Universal access to high-quality pre-primary education is an effective way to open up access to lifelong learning for all children, but particularly children from deprived backgrounds and ethnic minorities;
16. Insists on the importance of children's developing basic skills, learning their mother tongue or the language of their country of residence, and acquiring reading and writing skills as early as possible;
17. Believes that the learning of a second language should begin at this early stage, but young children's contact with languages must be organised through play and without pressure;
18. Calls on all Member States to make pre-primary education compulsory;
Primary and secondary education
19. Emphasises the need to pay special attention to individuals who might otherwise drop out of education at a later stage; believes that special programmes and measures should be adopted to decrease the drop-out rate and that, in cases where dropping out is inevitable and continues to occur, the individuals concerned should be supported and given opportunities to be reintegrated into society and offered appropriate forms of education;
20. Stresses that primary and secondary education should equip children for autonomous, creative and innovative thinking and make them into media-critical and self-reflecting citizens;
21. Underlines the importance of the school curricula of each Member State, which should contain courses aimed at fostering and developing creativity and the innovative spirit in children;
22. Considers that curricula, and their content, must be continually updated in order to remain relevant, enhancing the important role of entrepreneurial skills and volunteering in order to support personal development, and stresses that all Member States must attach greater importance to teacher training and provide more resources for it if they are to make significant progress in achieving the Lisbon Strategy targets in the work programme 'Education and training 2010' and promote lifelong learning within the European Union;
23. Is convinced that children should learn a second foreign language as early as possible;
24. Strongly encourages the learning of foreign languages from an early age and the inclusion of foreign-language teaching in all primary school curricula; stresses that, if this goal is to be achieved, sufficient resources must be made available to recruit and train foreign-language teachers;
25. Considers that the development of personal talents, specific capacities and natural abilities of students has to be a major goal at this stage of education; points out that these capacities may provide the basis for work and employment later on;
26. Stresses that special attention ought to be paid to those students who have not acquired or are not acquiring basic skills, as well as to exceptionally talented students so that they can maximise the development of their above-average abilities and talents;
27. Recommends that Member States substantially improve the quality of teachers' academic and professional qualifications, and their training and lifelong learning;
28. Strongly supports the promotion of continuous and coherent professional development for teachers throughout their careers; takes the view that all teachers should have regular opportunities to improve and update their skills and qualifications, as well as their pedagogical knowledge;
29. Proposes that European citizenship programmes that will educate a new generation in the spirit of European values in areas such as human rights, multiculturalism, tolerance, the environment, climate change should be introduced into curricula as soon as possible;
Vocational education and training (VET)
30. Notes that both the quality and attractiveness of VET must be enhanced;
31. Points out that VET ought to be better linked and more coherently integrated into both European and national economies in order to tailor better the educational process to the labour market;
32. Insists that mobility (not only geographical but also mobility between VET and higher education) of students and teachers be significantly enhanced;
33. Considers that university curricula should be modernised in order to meet current and future socio-economic needs;
34. Recommends that higher education institutions should, as a matter of priority, develop interdisciplinary programmes on the borders between sciences in order to train specialists capable of solving the most complex problems facing the world today;
35. Emphasises that students’ and pupils’ interest in content and study programmes dealing with technology, natural sciences and environmental protection should be increased;
36. Calls on Member States effectively to boost partnerships between universities and businesses, and, in addition, between universities and the many other national, regional and local stakeholders;
37. Notes that cooperation between European higher education institutions must be significantly enhanced and that, furthermore, qualifications should be made as easily transferable as possible;
38. Points out that the work of teachers and lecturers in higher education needs to be continually updated as the programmes, contents and work methods;
39. Suggests that the European Institute for Innovation and Research be linked to the Bologna Process and taken into account within the framework of the reform of European higher education;
40. Strongly recommends that Member States improve students' and teachers' mobility, including mobility between countries, programmes and disciplines; stresses, in this context, the importance of implementing the European Quality Charter for Mobility in order to create a genuine European area for lifelong education and training and promote economic, social and regional cooperation;
41. Considers that employers should be encouraged consistently to arrange education and training for their employees, as well as being provided with incentives to enable low-skilled workers to take part in lifelong learning programmes;
42. Notes that long-term unemployed people from a disadvantaged social background, peoplewith special needs, young people who have been in re-education institutions and former prisoners should especially be taken into consideration;
43. Stresses that women in particular should be encouraged to take part in training and further training, and special programmes to promote lifelong learning for women must also be provided and promoted in this context;
44. Stresses that low-skilled and older workers ought to be particularly encouraged and incentives should be provided for them to take part in lifelong learning programmes;
45. Calls for adult education and lifelong learning programmes to take particular account of those groups of people who are most disadvantaged in the labour market, in particular young persons, women, especially those in rural situations, and the elderly;
46. Calls for account to be taken of the fact that training in parenting skills for women and men is crucial to people’s welfare, to fighting poverty and to social cohesion; against this background, wishes multi-purpose lifelong learning programmes and training of parenting skills trainers to be set up in the framework of education and learning.
47. Emphasises that knowledge and qualifications acquired through lifelong learning should be much broader and easily recognised, and to that end considers that the implementation of the European Qualifications Framework and the Europass as instruments for the promotion of lifelong learning must also be stepped up;
48. Considers that more funding for measures to promote mobility should be provided by both European and national authorities at all stages of lifelong learning;
49. Calls for the advantages of the European Quality Charter for Mobility to be recognised and exploited and for them to be put into practice by the Member States, and for the Commission to carry out a review of implementation in the Member States;
50. Insists that as many social services and supporting facilities (e.g. childcare) as possible ought to be guaranteed to all students and workers with families;
51. Believes that volunteer services should be integrated and acknowledged when implementing the Education and Training 2010 work programme;
52. Is convinced that exchanges of views and mutual teaching and learning among different age groups should be enhanced;
53. Stresses that lifelong learning programmes must support entrepreneurship, enabling citizens to establish SMEs and to meet the needs of both society and the economy;
54. Draws attention to the fact that lifelong learning guidance services and information to learners of all age groups ought to be put into place in order to support the above objectives;
55. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.
In November 2007, the Commission presented a Communication entitled Delivering lifelong learning for knowledge, creativity and innovation(1). This document, the Commission's proposal for the third joint progress report of the Council and the Commission on the implementation of the Education and Training 2010 work programme, is published every two years and should be broadly regarded as a review of the situation concerning the open method of coordination in education and training within the framework of the Lisbon Strategy objectives.
The document consists of a report on the status of education and training policies at European level, identifying successful and unsuccessful national initiatives in this field. However, the Communication not only gives a picture of progress made and identifies areas where progress remains insufficient but also proposes measures to be taken to bring about further improvements: it is therefore a political statement as well and can be regarded as a roadmap for the coming years.
The Communication is based on an analysis of Member States' national reports on the implementation of the Education & Training 2010 work programme (a detailed analysis of these reports can be found in a supporting working document(2)) and of a set of statistical indicators and benchmarks.
The state of play:
Although progress is not uniform (the pace of reform ought to be faster and constant, and intense efforts are still indispensable), the following areas have registered improvements throughout the last few years:
·Lifelong learning strategies and qualifications systems:
a) Explicit strategies in this field were developed by most countries, generally incorporating a comprehensive vision of education and training and a more coherent approach to it.
b) National qualifications frameworks are being developed in the majority of Member States, which implies a new focus on learning outcomes. Also systems for the validation of non-formal and informal learning have been put into place, although they are evolving more slowly and are still at an experimental stage.
·Pre-primary education: pre-primary education is increasingly recognised under new approaches and policies, although for the most part this is happening in the framework of pilot projects. A large number of countries are implementing new measures in this field, involving a compulsory status for parts of pre-primary schooling, revision of teaching content, capacity building for teachers, quality assessment and increasing investment.
·Higher education: the need of European higher education for modernisation and the importance of complementing the Bologna reforms (e.g. by improving governance, funding and attractiveness of universities) are increasingly being perceived as crucial. University autonomy has progressed solidly and new forms of stakeholder involvement are being tested. Moreover, instruments to stimulate private investment have been introduced (such as tax incentives and reforms, public-private partnerships and private sponsoring). As regards sexual equality, female university students outnumber male students in several countries, a development which is partly due to equal opportunities legislation.
·Importance of education and training within the framework of the knowledge triangle, the Lisbon Strategy and the EU policy context in its broadest sense: education, training and skills development are given a central place in the national reform programmes of most Member States. At the same time, remarkable progress has been achieved in linking operational programmes under the Structural Funds to the priorities of the Education and Training 2010 work programme, as well as in developing European reference tools to support reforms, such as recommendations on key competences, on the quality of mobility, on quality assurance in higher education and on the European Qualifications Framework.
Areas requiring improvement:
In general terms, three challenging areas needing special attention are identified in the report: low skill levels, lifelong learning strategies and the knowledge triangle (education, research and innovation). At a more concrete level, the Commission's communication identifies certain lacks and needs and calls for certain improvements:
·There is a need for a sustained effort, better dissemination and improved investment in the implementation of coherent lifelong learning strategies, linking sectoral policies on pre-primary, primary, secondary and higher education, VET and adult learning.
·Public expenditure on and private investment in education: positive trends in both areas came to a halt in 2004 and their levels still vary enormously between countries.
·Early school leaving and key competences: far too many young people leave school with no more than lower secondary education and therefore without key skills and competences (e. g. foreign languages or reading, where data show a downward trend in performance and the EU benchmark for 2010 will not be achieved), which are absolutely necessary for them to participate in the knowledge society and to successfully avoid unemployment.
·Particular attention needs to be paid to the generally lower performance of migrants, ethnic minorities and socioeconomically disadvantaged groups.
·Teacher training (increasing need for new competences, skills and tasks, which is partly related to growing school autonomy), upgrading of the teaching profession and continuing teacher training, including lifelong learning and professional development.
a)enhancing the key role of universities not only in education and teaching but also in research, innovation and knowledge transfer;
b)fostering public and especially private investment in universities;
c)supporting university staff and managers with regard to the increasing autonomy and accountability of universities.
·The participation in lifelong learning of older, low-skilled and migrant adult workers should particularly be increased (the EU benchmark in this field will not be achieved).
·Vocational education and training (VET) must become much more attractive and relevant to the labour market. Member States should therefore make provision for specific skills and qualifications which will be indispensable for European society and the European economy in the coming years. Moreover, VET should be much better integrated within the rest of the education system and its quality must be not only improved but also guaranteed.
·Transnational mobility of learners should be enabled not only by EU programmes but also by national measures. The field of VET requires particular efforts to increase mobility.
Within the framework of this particularly broad Commission document, the Rapporteur considers that both coherent and comprehensive lifelong learning strategies and tools agreed by the European Parliament and the Council (such as the European qualifications framework, Europass, the key competences framework and the recommendations on mobility and on quality assurance in higher education) should be consistently implemented by every Member State in order to attain the Lisbon objectives, as well as strengthening the knowledge triangle and improving the recognition of non-formal and informal learning and of professional qualifications. Horizontal issues such as language learning, Europe's need for higher skill levels, sustainable funding and promotion of autonomy, creativity and innovation at all levels of education and training must be further addressed.
Action in the field of education and training should be consistently supported with complementary measures of a socioeconomic nature, such as policies to improve the overall life conditions of European citizens, as well as the integration of migrants and minorities (especially Roma people) and the inclusion of groups with special needs (mostly disabled and elderly people) at all levels and in every field of education. Furthermore, initiatives enhancing not only students' but also teachers' and researchers' mobility are very much needed. Sport subjects should be especially taken into consideration and enhanced throughout pre-primary, primary and secondary education. There should also be an emphasis on the role of families with regard to every aspect of education and training, from the key importance of their support to students (in particular among migrants and minorities) to the need for a wide range of social services for students and workers with families.
While teaching and its quality must be generally improved, much more attention ought to be paid to curricula, which should effectively contribute to the development of students’ personality as a whole, as well as teaching them to respect human rights and European values such as democracy, cultural diversity, peace and gender equality. As future needs concerning both society and the economy have to be foreseen, key competences such as technical, scientific and reading skills ought to be given special priority, while ICT skills and media literacy in general should be especially encouraged among teachers and elderly people. In addition, specific skills related to the environment should be considered, e.g. by extending effective education on environmental issues and climate change to all forms of learning and by calling on Member States to recognise the need for early work on environmental protection in nursery, primary and secondary education. Furthermore, it is also crucial to facilitate the transition between different education and training systems (schools, vocational education and training, higher education, adult education) and between formal, non-formal and informal learning.
At a more general level, education and training always have to be related to local and regional potentials, for example by being considered within the framework of development plans or strategies. If it is true that at European level more can be done in this wide-ranging field, it also has to be stressed that Member States' governments ought to play a much more dynamic role in putting into practice the policies and tools they have already been given by the European Union, for example by setting themselves concrete goals as far as the reform of their national education and training programmes is concerned.
Finally, the Rapporteur formulates certain remarks and sets out specific priorities for each particular stage of education and training:
1. Pre-primary education:
In the Rapporteur's view, language learning (i.e. mother and/or country-of-residence tongue and at least a first foreign language) should be enhanced and very much encouraged at this early stage, especially in order to promote the inclusion of migrants and ethnic minorities such as Roma people into European societies.
2. Primary and secondary education:
Special attention should be paid to the even higher school drop-out rates, which can be addressed by measures like updating curricula, enhancing autonomous thinking, creativity and innovation and motivating students according to their personal talents and specific necessities.
3. Vocational education and training (VET):
Improving the quality and attractiveness of VET and making it more practically oriented constitute some of the Rapporteur's priorities in this field.
The Rapporteur considers that university-business partnerships, teachers', students' and researchers' mobility and updated content which meets both current and future socioeconomic needs are key elements within the framework of the reform of higher education systems.
Regarding lifelong learning, the Rapporteur would like to focus on motivating workers to keep learning throughout their whole lives and professional careers, as well as effectively guaranteeing that every worker takes part in it, including low-skilled and elderly workers.
The Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality calls on the Committee on Culture and Education, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions in its motion for a resolution:
A. whereas education and training systems should provide equal opportunities for women and men,
B. whereas incorporating the gender equality dimension into education and training policies is crucial to the success of the Lisbon Strategy, one objective of which is to tackle inequalities between women and men on European labour markets, inter alia by achieving a 60% rate of female employment by 2010,
1. Notes that education is essential for the social and personal development of both women and men; underlines, therefore, the importance of reinforcing education and training as a fundamental aspect of promoting equality between women and men;
2. Deplores the fact that educational systems discourage women from entering traditionally male-dominated fields of employment and vocational training, but welcomes measures promoting gender equality and urges Member States to launch programmes aimed at giving women the most diversified professional guidance possible and subsequent assistance on the employment market;
3. Stresses that the existing inequality of opportunity between women and men as regards high-quality lifelong teaching and education are all the more marked in island regions and geographically and socially disadvantaged regions; calls in consequence for greater promotion of educational initiatives in the framework of regional policy;
4. Notes the chronic under-representation of women in certain fields of study, at all levels, as well as in the research sector; encourages in consequence practical, positive actions to remedy the situation;
5. Observes that students with interrupted study patterns, especially young mothers, can suffer discrimination, and calls for the adoption of more flexible approaches in order to facilitate the resumption of studies or training after the birth of a child and the combining of studies with professional and family life;
6. Regrets that the participation of women and men in higher education still remains increasingly unequal as the level increases; considers that improving equality of opportunities requires a fundamental change in attitudes reinforced by concrete, positive actions;
7. Calls for adult education and lifelong learning programmes to take particular account of those groups of people who are most disadvantaged on the labour market, in particular young persons, women, especially those in rural situations, and the elderly;
8. Calls for account to be taken of the fact that training in parenting skills for women and men is crucial to people’s welfare, to fighting poverty and to social cohesion; against this background, wishes multi-purpose lifelong learning programmes and training of parenting skills trainers to be set up in the framework of education and learning.
RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE
Result of final vote
Members present for the final vote
Edit Bauer, Zita Gurmai, Piia-Noora Kauppi, Astrid Lulling, Siiri Oviir, Marie Panayotopoulos-Cassiotou, Zita Pleštinská, Christa Prets, Teresa Riera Madurell, Anna Záborská
Substitute(s) present for the final vote
Gabriela Creţu, Maria Petre
RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE
Result of final vote
Members present for the final vote
Maria Badia i Cutchet, Ivo Belet, Guy Bono, Nicodim Bulzesc, Marie-Hélène Descamps, Jolanta Dičkutė, Věra Flasarová, Milan Gaľa, Vasco Graça Moura, Luis Herrero-Tejedor, Ruth Hieronymi, Ramona Nicole Mănescu, Manolis Mavrommatis, Ljudmila Novak, Dumitru Oprea, Zdzisław Zbigniew Podkański, Christa Prets, Pál Schmitt, Helga Trüpel, Thomas Wise, Tomáš Zatloukal
Substitute(s) present for the final vote
Erna Hennicot-Schoepges, Ewa Tomaszewska, Cornelis Visser, Jaroslav Zvěřina