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EDUCATION AND TRAINING MONITOR 2023: CIVIL SOCIETY RESPONSE


CONTEXT


On 28 November, in the context of the European Education Summit, the European Commission published its Annual Education and Training Monitor. The 2023 edition has as a main theme the challenging situations of the teaching profession, while the rest of the Monitor is dedicated, as is customary, to the different education and training sectors and the situation surrounding them.

The Monitor also serves as a milestone in assessing the way the Member States have been performing on the seven EU-level targets that guide the implementation of the European Education Area (EEA). In this sense, next to monitoring performed in the context of the European Semester, in the context of the EEA Working Groups and in the context of periodic review of the implementation of different EU Council Recommendation, the Education and Training Monitor is one of the most important benchmarking and reporting tools of the EU in the sector of education and training. 


WHAT CHANGED SINCE LAST E&T MONITOR ON TEACHERS


An uncanny resemblance to the Education and Training Monitor 2019 can be observed, which raises the question of whether the EU is on the right track to address certain of the challenges identified. The 2019 edition was also dedicated to the teaching profession, and it similarly identified challenges of an ageing teaching population, of shortages across Europe, of teachers not feeling their profession is valued (the numbers from 2019 referred to only 18% of secondary education teachers feeling valued, while the numbers from 2023 refer to 17.7% of teachers in general not feeling valued) and of an underpaid profession. Similarly, the growing participation in education and educational achievement, based on the seven EU-targets, have been mentioned then as well, while learning outcomes were hailed as a challenge on which Europe was lagging behind in 2019. Over 2023, the same difficulty in relation to learning outcomes is identified, and as participation in learning has been expanded across the past years, it is time to consider how to improve the quality of that participation in learning, making sure that learners receive the greatest support to develop the key competences needed for their lifelong learning. The similarities between the Monitors in terms of identified challenges also expand to those challenges or barriers which they have consistently ignored. This includes a wider perspective over education and training professionals and not just the teaching profession, an understanding that the diversity of the teaching profession should not only account for gender equity but should also consider other intersectional identities that educators and learners have, but also the fact that public funding in education and training is insufficient to be able to deal with the teaching crisis¹.


FORWARD LOOKING APPROACHES



Though the 2023 Education and Training Monitor moves forward in the same direction, it must be appreciated that it has identified a set of measures that can further boost participation in education, can increase equity in the sector and contribute to building up the basic competences that seem to have only worsened (judging also from the 2022 PISA results). Three enabling factors identified, cross-curricular learning, formative assessment and participation of learners in governance and decision-making of education and training institutions. All of them have been staples in learning promoted by LLLPlatform and its members. The cross-curricular learning approach still needs to be expanded across Member States, as the Monitor identifies only 13 EU Member States with quality criteria to implement this approach which has been promoted by LLLPlatform across a series of its Position Papers².

The perspective of formative assessment as a means to support learners in identifying their needs and developing competences has also been widely promoted by LLLPlatform since its 2021 Position Paper on Rethinking Assessment: Prioritising Learners’ Wellbeing. This perspective has been mainstreamed across the EEA Working Groups where LLLP members are present, and it seems that Member States have been actively working on the topic. Similarly, the work of LLLPlatform members OBESSU and Eurochild on learners’ participation in governance has been recognised, with the logical link made between the need for learners’ empowerment in order for the meaningful implementation of the learner-centred approach.

The Monitor manages to also capture the multiple education projects across Member States that benefited from the support of DG REFORM’s Technical Support Instrument (TSI), which brings an additional tool into the sector to address the challenges ahead. There must be consideration on how the TSI can also contribute to addressing the teacher shortages. 

A couple of elements missing from the forward-looking perspective can be the constant lack of data on adults’ participation in learning, which is hindering the support to be allocated to this group of learners, but also some punctual inconsistencies such as promoting informatics as a sole subject to develop digital skills just after the cross-curricular approach was hailed as a must-have.


NEXT STEPS AT THE LIFELONG LEARNING PLATFORM 

While these solutions to target the equity and competence development across sectors and levels of education and training are crucial to be further explored, not the same can be said with the outlook for the teaching profession where the crisis has only deepened and there is uncertainty over what Member States are doing in this direction. To this end, the Lifelong Learning Platform has established for its 2024 Annual Theme the topic of educators, which expands to the teaching profession as well. There needs to be an understanding that within a lifelong learning environment it is not only teachers that are suffering, but also the support personnel, the educators and trainers outside formal education, the teacher trainers, leaders of education and training institutions and all the personnel that makes the journey of a learner in formal, informal and non-formal learning one that holistically develops all competences required for active societal participation. Over the year 2024, LLLPlatform will work with its members, with researchers, with education and training stakeholders (including decision makers) to identify what can be done to address the challenges that have been already documented for the past 5 years, and even beyond if one considers the work of social partners and civil society organisations. A series of events will look at this topic, while all will be concluded in December 2024 with a new LLLPlatform Position Paper on the topic. We look forward to meaningfully cooperating with the EU institutions in this process, especially as the upcoming EU elections require the challenges of the education and training sector to be put at the top of the political agenda.

 

  1. Related to the funding issue, see 2022 LLLP Position Paper Investment in Education and Training: A Public Good for All, here.

  2. 2019 LLLP Position Paper 21st Century Learning Environments, here; 2020 LLLP Position Paper Lifelong Learning for Sustainable Solutions, here; 2023 LLLP Position Paper Key Competences for All: a Lifelong Learning Approach, here.

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