"We are discussing mainly the topic of benchmarks, or reference levels in education, such as the numbers of early
secondary-school leavers, employability of graduates or mobility of EU students. We do not aim at drawing any kind of
list of European states; our goal is to discuss the areas in which we may do things together", said the acting
President of the Council Ondřej Liška. It is an important political topic, since the area of education remains
exclusively within the competence of the Member States.
The EU Ministers of the EU Member States expressed their views concerning two main topics: the communication for the Spring European Council and the discussion on the updated strategic framework for European cooperation in education until 2020. Assisted by the Czech Presidency, the ministers drew up key recommendations for the Spring European Council putting forward principal proposals in reaction to the current economic situation - such as investments into human potential, essential for the economic recovery, and the focus on skills necessary for employability in the labour market. In this respect, the experience of some of the Scandinavian Member States seems to be the most useful. Another topic that came to the forefront was the cooperation of educational institutions and employers, one of the key priorities of the Czech Presidency.
Minister Liška invited his counterparts to an informal lunch where they had an open discussion about their expectations regarding cooperation over the next ten years. They spoke namely about the goals that they would like to see achieved as the outcome of the decade of joint efforts and about the assets that European integration can bring to national systems of education. "
Boosting cooperation between the academic world and employers is undoubtedly one of the topics that have come under the spotlight in Europe", confirmed Minister Liška. "Clearly, education cannot be reduced merely to the ability to assert oneself in the labour market. However, given the atmosphere of crisis and the goals of prosperity and social cohesion of society as a whole, education must necessarily be so flexible and adaptable to the labour market as to reduce the unemployment level to a minimum and to create the best possible jobs".
The results of the ministerial discussion will be reflected in the strategic framework for 2010-2020. This document is expected to be adopted before the end of the Czech Presidency, in May 2009 at the second meeting of Ministers of Education.
Minister Liška on 16 February in Brussels (credit: The Council of the European Union)
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