On 7 December 2016, the European Commission adopted a Communication setting out its vision for ensuring a high quality education for all.
The Communication on improving and modernising education emphasises the strategic of importance of education in the EU. Investing in education represents society investing in its people and its future. The Commission recognises the achievements and progress of education and training systems across the EU in recent years. Key Europe 2020 targets are being met, including:
- the share of early-school leaving has been brought down from 15.7% in 2005 to 11.0% in 2015
- the 40% target for the share of young people graduating from higher education is in reach
At the same time, the latest results of the OECD PISA survey, released on 6 December, and the EU's own Skills Agenda adopted in June, (see also Communication) show there are still areas where education needs to perform better, including:
- the high proportion of pupils with low basics skills in reading, maths and science
- mixed results in terms of the employability of graduates
- inequality in access to good education for all students, including those living in remote areas
Modernising school and higher education
Next year, the EU will present a new plan of action to increase the quality of and access to early childhood education and care. In schools, it will help adapt and develop school education as it responds to societal, economic and technological change. It will look to build links between schools and their local communities and provide stronger support for teachers and school leaders.
In the field of higher education, further efforts are needed to ensure that graduates are equipped with the right skills to succeed. In particular, increasing quality of teaching in higher education must be a particular focus and will require both investment and recognition of its value relative to research output. These will be among the issues tackled in an renewed EU strategy for higher education that will also be presented next year.
Support for education reform
Education must be high on the policy agenda in EU countries. Good education can pay dividends in other areas such as economic, citizenship, social or security policy. While EU countries are responsible for reforming their education systems, the Commission is ready to support them through encouraging peer learning and strengthening the evidence base for reform.