EU Education Ministers and high-ranking civil servants in charge of school education met in Gdańsk, Poland, on 10-11 October to discuss EU policies for pre-schools, schools and language learning, in particular ways of improving young people's basic skills in reading, maths and science.
Directors General for Schools in the EU Member States held talks on 10 October focused on such issues as how to ensure universal access to high quality education and care for young children and how to improve language learning at an early age. They also had an initial exchange on the role of schools in the EU's next support programme for education and training from 2014, for which the Commission will present its proposal in November.
At their informal meeting on 11 October, Education Ministers debated the importance of language skills for lifelong learning and pupils' future job prospects. They also discussed the question how EU countries can better exploit the diversity of their different education systems to raise overall levels of competences among pupils in the basic skills of literacy, maths and science.
In May this year, Ministers backed the Commission's plans to help Member States ensure generalised access to high quality early childhood education and care.
In July 2011 the Commission published a Policy Handbook on Early Language Learning with useful orientations on how to develop language awareness and second or foreign language learning in pre-primary education.
EU countries have agreed on a set of shared education targets to be achieved by 2020. They have pledged to reduce the share of low achieving 15 year olds in literacy, maths and science to less than 15% (currently 20%) and to ensure that by 2020 at least 95% of children between 4 years old and the starting age of compulsory education should participate in early childhood education.