What is it about?
Education and training policy should enable all citizens to benefit from quality education and to acquire and update over a lifetime the knowledge, skills, and competences needed for employment, inclusion, active citizenship and personal fulfilment.
Inequalities persist in European education systems. Pupils from poor socio-economic backgrounds perform worse at school than their peers in all EU countries. Children from immigrant backgrounds, the disabled, and Roma children are among the most vulnerable groups affected. At the same time, there are large differences between countries in the extent to which family background influences learning outcomes.
Against this background, Europe needs more efficient but at the same time more inclusive and equitable education systems, which give access to quality educational provision. The European Union actively supports and supplements Member States efforts in this regard.
What has been done so far?
A series of European initiatives in recent years have provided strong stimulus, comparison and policy guidance to help Member States strengthen equity in their education systems in a way that would ensure both quality and fairness. These include:
In 2014-2020, EU countries can use the opportunities available through the Erasmus+ programme and the European Structural and Investment Funds to improve equity and inclusion in and through education and training.
How is it achieved?
As part of its commitment to promoting evidence-based policy-making in education, the European Commission issues independent reviews of research on equity-related issues, principally through the Network of Experts on Social Aspects of Education and Training. These summarise existing knowledge on specific topics, provide independent policy guidance and set out the supporting evidence.
In addition, the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education provides analysis, evidence and information about the reality of inclusive education across Europe, recommendations for policy and practice as well as tools to evaluate and monitor progress.