Members' Research Service By / March 2, 2021

Learning for the future

The European Union is beginning to deploy significant amounts of coronavirus recovery funding and has introduced visionary initiatives such as the , a European Green Deal, and a Europe fit for the digital age.

Written by Denise Chircop,

The European Union is beginning to deploy significant amounts of coronavirus recovery funding and has introduced visionary initiatives such as the New European Bauhaus, a European Green Deal, and a Europe fit for the digital age. In this way, the EU seeks to turn the huge disruptions resulting from the Covid‑19 pandemic into an opportunity to start afresh, with some initiatives to shape the future.

In the field of education, the European Commission proposes to establish a European education area by 2025, and implement a new digital education action plan. The Portuguese Presidency of the European Council has launched discussions on the renewal of the strategic framework for European cooperation on education and training up to 2030. In the latest round of negotiations over the long-term budget of the European Union, the European Parliament fought hard to boost the funding programme dedicated to lifelong learning Erasmus for 2021‑2017, securing additional funds and wider participation to include significantly more people with fewer opportunities.

At a time of new beginnings, our animated infographic on lifelong learning in the EU has been revamped with recent data and greater interactivity. A new section on vocational education and training looks at the distribution of enrolments, the situation of vocational education teachers and instructors, the financing of our vocational systems, and the opportunities vocational education and training opens up, including for mobility. Education is integral to our lives and the sections of the animated infographic span from early childhood to adulthood. Since learning implies an act of curiosity, there are many interesting nuggets waiting to be discovered – just click.

Lifelong learning in the EU is intended to help explain what the EU means when it uses the term lifelong learning and to draw attention to some of the issues by displaying EU financed studies and data. How is learning structured in the EU? Who pays for it? And how much? What are the profiles of the professionals? Who are the beneficiaries? Who is left by the wayside? What is the impact?

Prepared for Members of the European Parliament, we have added a series of infographic briefings that use some elements of the animated infographic as a launch pad to dig deeper into a theme. There are four to date:

  • Our latest infographic is on participation in early education and care. It looks at what Member States are doing to meet the target set at 96 % of all children three years and over for 2030 and how the EU is helping. Success depends on having enough places that are accessible and affordable. At the same time, the quality of the provision is just as important to reap the potential benefits.
  • The infographic on the inclusion of migrants in formal education draws on statistics that show that students with a migrant background experience a degree of exclusion from formal education compared to other students. Nevertheless, many different individuals fall under this category. This infographic looks at the complex picture behind the statistics, and at how authorities in Member States address the inclusion of migrant students through their policies.
  • Adult learners in a digital world looks at how adults in the EU currently use the internet, and their level of skills. While policy-makers see the potential of the digital environment to broaden access to education, lack of skills and infrastructure may be barriers in their own right.
  • Non-formal learning: Access and validation looks at the different situations in which we learn over the course of a lifetime. It looks at examples of learning opportunities in adulthood and the types of recognition adults receive for the knowledge and skills that they develop.
  • Our latest infographic is on early leavers from education and training. It looks at young adults whose highest level of education is at or below lower secondary or primary school level. Those who fall in this category suffer considerable disadvantage, so how do policies supported by the EU bring down their numbers?
  • Statistics underline how difficult it is to break the barriers of disadvantage. Our in-depth analysis tries to answer the question of why and how this situation has become so intractable, by looking at some of the dynamics in our educational systems. Evidence from case studies and other research into the development of educational systems brings to light a number of contributing factors to the statistics on perpetuated disadvantage in education and training. The analysis looks at the extent to which reforms have been possible and the complex reasons behind them. We also focus on the EU perspective on breaking the cycle of disadvantage through education by examining the role of EU-level cooperation and the European Parliament’s support for a lifelong learning approach that is both inclusive and forward looking.

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