EAEA News 2008-03-31
Slovenia treading lightly on education path
Slovenia is the first of the new EU member states to chair the Union. Theperiod rund from January-June 2008.
Naturally the new member state does not wish to rock the boat.
It is a very measured and low-profiled approach to policy areas where the Union does not have a strong input that stands out when examining the aims of the Slovenian presidency. Slovenia is a country with a highly developed education system, and an active adult education approach. It could therefore have served as a model in many respects to countries with considerably weaker educational systems. Unfortunately it seems Slovenia does not want to use, or does not know how to capitalise on its advantages in this area. If you read the official presidency web site you will find that it begins with a legal definition, that, while juridically correct, still smells of an excuse not to do more. IT reads "In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, education and training fall within the sole responsibility of the Member States. However, at the European level, ministers of education may coordinate national education policies."
The presentation then goes on to reiterate the mantra that overshadowed the social aspects of the Lisbon Agenda, by stating that "European education policy plays an important role in job creation and job retention, promoting economic growth through the improvement of basic and advanced education and training, and helps Member States shape their national policies through an exchange of experience."
Then there is indirect reference to the Action Plan on lifelong learning, but unfortunately no deeper discussion. It is simply stated that "priority tasks of the common education and training policy are focused on improving the quality and effectiveness of, and accessibility to, European education and training systems and opening up education and training to the wider world."
This very wide definition may sound good, but it leaves the field open for interpretation. What is needed is more concrete action. Unfortunately again this is limited to employability issues and/or university education. We read that "the overall objective is to improve the transparency of education systems in every Member State as a basic condition for increasing mobility in education and the labour market. Through the Bologna Process the Member States of the European Union, as well as other European countries, aim to create a common European area for higher education by 2010.
The removal of barriers hindering access to study programmes and the development of a system for comparing qualifications should increase mobility between higher education institutions in Europe. The Bruges-Copenhagen Process, as the acknowledged instrument for vocational education, supports the idea of transparent and comparable qualifications in vocational education and training. Both processes, including the detailed plan of how to implement concrete objectives of education and training, constitute a programme known as "Education and Training 2010". The European Union is earmarking budgetary funds for educational exchange between Member States within the unified programme "Lifelong Learning", whereas for the implementation of measures relating to the development of human resources Member States also have financial resources from Structural Funds at their disposal."
This is all correct, but it is a skewed and incomplete picture. And the aims of the presidency unfortunately remains unclear. One gets the feeling this has been added without very much thought, and even less ambition to influence the educational debate in Europe.
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