4 Education and training: indicators
|Commission Communication: A coherent framework of indicators and benchmarks for monitoring progress towards the Lisbon objectives in education and training
|Document originated||21 February 2007
|Deposited in Parliament||27 February 2007
|Department||Education and Skills
|Basis of consideration||EM of 20 March
|Previous Committee Report||None
|To be discussed in Council||May
|Committee's assessment||Legally and politically important
|Committee's decision||Not cleared; further information requested
The Lisbon targets for education and training
4.1 In March 2000, the European Council set the objective for
Europe to become the world's most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based
economy by 2010. It
also called on the Member States, the Council of Ministers and
the Commission to meet the following targets:
- make "a substantial increase in per capita investment
in human resources";
- halve the number of people aged 18 to 24 who
have had only a lower-secondary level education and who are not
receiving further education and training;
- develop schools and training centres into "multi-purpose
learning centres accessible to all";
- establish learning partnerships between schools,
training centres, firms and research organisations;
- define the basic skills IT, foreign languages,
technological, cultural, entrepreneurial and social to
be provided through lifelong learning;
- establish a European diploma in basic IT skills;
- foster the mobility of students, teachers and
research workers; and
- develop a common European format for CVs.
The current benchmarks and indicators
4.2 In 2003, the Education Council set the following
five "benchmarks" or targets for 2010:
- the number of children who
leave school prematurely should be reduced to no more than 10%;
- the number of children who are low achievers
in reading should be cut by at least 20%;
- at least 85% of children should complete upper-secondary
- the number of graduates in mathematics, science
and technology should be increased by at least 15% and the imbalance
between women and men graduates in those subjects should be reduced;
- 12.5% of the adult population should take part
in lifelong learning.
4.3 In 2004, the Education Ministers of the Member
States adopted common objectives for education and training and
a work programme to give effect to them (the "Education and
Training 2010 Programme").
4.4 Between 2003-06, a list of 29 indicators was
used to monitor progress towards the achievement of the Lisbon
4.5 Article 3(1)(q) of the EC Treaty cites "a
contribution to education and training of quality" as one
of the activities required for the purposes of the Community's
task as defined in Article 2.
4.6 Article 5 of the EC Treaty provides that the
Community must act within the powers conferred upon it by the
Treaty and that any action by the Community must not go beyond
what is necessary to achieve the Treaty's objectives.
4.7 Article 149(1) of the EC Treaty provides that
the Community is to contribute to the development of "quality
education" by encouraging cooperation between Member States
and, if necessary, by supporting and supplementing their action.
Article 149(2) then goes on to specify that Community action should
be aimed at:
- "developing the European
dimension in education, particularly through the teaching and
dissemination of the languages of the Member States;
- encouraging mobility of students and teachers,
by encouraging inter alia, the academic recognition of diplomas
and periods of study;
- promoting cooperation between educational establishments;
- developing exchanges of information and experience
on issues common to the education systems of the Member States;
- encouraging the development of youth exchanges
and of exchanges of socioeducational instructors; and
- encouraging the development of distance learning."
4.8 Article 150(1) of the EC Treaty requires the
Community to implement a vocational training policy to support
and supplement the action of the Member States. Article 150(2)
specifies what Community action on vocational training should
be aimed at.
4.9 In 2005, the Council asked the Commission to
assess progress towards the establishment of a coherent framework
of indicators. This Communication contains the Commission's response.
4.10 The Commission says that:
"There is now a need to identify a new framework
which fully reflects the political priorities of the Education
and Training 2010 Programme as it has developed."
4.11 The Commission proposes a new list of 20 "core
indicators". They are:
i) Participation in pre-school education.
ii) Special needs education.
iii) Early school leavers.
iv) Literacy in reading, mathematics and science.
v) Language skills.
vi) ICT skills.
vii) Civic skills.
viii) Learning to learn skills.
ix) Upper secondary completion rates of young
x) School management.
xi) Schools as multi-purpose local learning centres.
xii) Professional development of teachers and
xiii) Stratification of education and training
xiv) Higher education graduates.
xv) Cross-national mobility of students in
xvi) Participation of adults in lifelong learning.
xvii) Adults' skills.
xviii) Educational attainment of the population.
xix) Investment in education and training.
xx) Returns to education and training.
The nine core indicators shown in italics are among
the 29 used to monitor progress between 2003-06. The Commission
says that the other eleven indicators are still being developed.
4.12 The Commission:
- invites the Council to endorse
the proposed list of 20 core indicators and support the development
of the new ones;
- invites Member States to take part in the development
of the new indicators and help ensure the success of the surveys
to collect the data;
- intends to report to the Council in 2008 on the
development and implementation of the new indicators; and
- intends to "launch work in cooperation with
Member States on the feasibility of defining a EU benchmark on
devoting at least 2% of GDP to a modernised higher education sector
The Government's view
4.13 The Minister of State for Lifelong Learning,
Further and Higher Education at the Department for Education and
Skills (Bill Rammell) tells us that the Government can support
nine of the indicators proposed in the Communication (the nine
which were used to monitor progress in 2003-06). Details about
the 11 new indicators are not yet available. The Government needs
to know the details and will not agree to the new indicators until
it has much more information about them.
4.14 In the Government's view, the Council should
decide any proposals the Commission has for collecting the data
required for the indicators. In particular, the Government will
stress the need to minimise the work for schools in collecting
data required for the proposed indicators of foreign languages
and learning to learn. Member States must be free to choose the
time of year to administer tests for the purposes of the EC indicators
so as to avoid clashes with assessments needed for domestic purposes.
4.15 The Minister expresses particular concern about
the Commission's intention to begin work on the feasibility of
an EU benchmark for at least 2% of GDP to be allocated to higher
education by 2015. He says:
"Our argument has been that the focus should
be on improving outcomes (such as degree completion rates and
the quality of graduate job prospects) rather than on raising
financial inputs. Further, it is for individual countries to decide
their spending priorities. We do not propose to agree to the 2%
4.16 We are grateful to the Minister for his clear
and robust explanation of the Government's view of the Commission's
proposals. We understand why the Government considers it essential
to know in detail about the proposed new indicators before it
consents to them and why it emphasises the importance of minimising
the burden on schools of collecting data for the indicators.
4.17 We share the Government's concern about the
Commission's proposal for work on the feasibility of an EC benchmark
for each Member State to allocate 2% of its GDP to higher education.
In our view, the Commission has not shown that such a benchmark
is necessary to attain a Community objective; consequently the
proposal is inconsistent with Article 5 of the EC Treaty. Moreover,
in our view, the proposed benchmark goes beyond the Community
action specified in Article 149(2). We welcome the Government's
intention to dissent from the proposal.
4.18 We ask the Minister to provide us with progress
reports on the Council's discussion of the Communication. Meanwhile,
we shall keep the document under scrutiny.
8 Lisbon European Council, 23-24 March 2000, Presidency
Conclusions, paragraph 5. Back
Ibid, paragraph 26. Back
Commission Communication, page 3, final paragraph. Back
Commission Communication, page 12, final sub-paragraph. Back