Wed 27 Apr 2011 01:24:00 PM EEST
EU countries have improved their education systems in key areas over the past decade but they have achieved only one out of five benchmarks set for 2010, the European Commission's new progress report on education and training reveals.
The EU has succeeded in its target to increase the number of maths, science and technology graduates, with a 37% rise since 2000 - easily outstripping the target of 15%. Significant, but insufficient, progress was made in reducing the school drop-out rate, increasing the number of pupils completing upper secondary education, improving reading literacy skills and increasing the share of adults participating in education or training. A detailed breakdown of the figures for each country is available (see link below). The Europe 2020 jobs and growth strategy retains the target of reducing the school drop-out rate to under 10%, as well as increasing the share of graduates to at least 40%.
Commissioner Vassiliou said: "The good news is that education levels of Europeans have risen considerably over the past decade. More young people complete secondary education and graduate from higher education compared to ten years ago. However, early school leaving continues to be a problem that affects one in seven young people in the European Union and one in five pupils still have poor reading skills at the age of 15. That is why education and training are among the core objectives of Europe 2020. But we need further efforts from Member States to reach our joint European targets."
The Commissioner is strongly urging Member States not to make cuts in education budgets despite the constraints they face due to the economic crisis. "Spending on education is a good investment for jobs and economic growth and in the long term pays for itself. But in times of budgetary pressures we also have to ensure that resources are used as efficiently as possible," she added.
In 2009, EU Education Ministers agreed on five education and training benchmarks to be attained by 2020:
The report, which covers all EU Member States, plus Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Turkey, Norway and Liechtenstein, contains overviews and detailed statistics identifying which countries perform above or below the EU average and which are catching up or falling behind compared to the others.
In the coming weeks, Member States will submit their national reform programmes to the Commission, in which they will set national targets on early school leaving and higher education graduates and spell out how they want to achieve their goals. The Commission will soon present proposed new benchmarks on employability and learning mobility.
Text: DG Education and Culture News service