European Education, Training and Youth Forum 2014 Report

ETYF 2014The third edition of the European Education, Training and Youth (ETY) Forum took place in Brussels on 9th and 10th of October 2014. The theme of the Forum was Future priorities of the ET2020 Strategic Framework for European Cooperation in Education and Training and Synergies with Youth Policy. The event hosted forward looking discussions to identify key priority areas for policy cooperation as part of the review of the Framework for European Cooperation in Education and Training (ET2020). It gathered more than 350 participants representing different types of stakeholders and organisations active in education, training and youth.

Key messages from the Forum

The value of the Strategic Framework for European Cooperation in Education and Training (ET2020) as an integrated framework: Forum participants underlined the great value of having a holistic strategic framework covering education and training in all contexts, sectors and dimensions. Participants advocated strong links between the education and training sectors, and between youth work and employment. They also argued for an increased cooperation between the various stakeholders.

A holistic approach is crucial for building a bridge between education, training, youth work and the labour market, and for increasing dialogue among stakeholders. This approach implies collaboration involving formal, non-formal and informal education and training, the education and youth sectors, different levels of education, different Commission services and different Ministries at national level. Several stakeholders acknowledged the value of existing EU tools, cross-policy synergies and multiprofessional cooperation, but also emphasized the need to improve the cooperation framework, by promoting networking, cross-sector collaboration and cooperative learning opportunities.

Remaining challenges

In the context of ET2020, the following main challenges are still outstanding:

  • Employability and transition between education and the labour market,
  • The social dimension of education and training, for example the provision of equal access to education and training opportunities for all, and the provision of civic competences against the background of growing mistrust of the EU – especially among young people – and of rising extremism,
  • Supporting low-achievers in gaining basic and transversal skills and combating early school leaving more effectively,
  • Diversifying and professionalising the teaching profession and finding solutions to cope with the increasing diversity in the classroom/learning environment.

Issues neglected during the past ET2020 work cycle

The areas perceived as having been neglected during the past ET2020 work cycle include:

  • The social and equity dimension of education and training, the civic objectives of learning, and the consideration of countries’ socio-economic situations when designing education and training policies,
  • Cross-sector cooperation and partnerships between all types of stakeholders,
  • Recognition of non-formal and informal skills, competences and learning outcomes,
  • The use of technology in education, in particular ICT,
  • The investment in and support to entrepreneurship education,
  • The attractiveness of and support to the teaching profession.

Priorities for the next ET2020 work cycle

The next ET 2020 work cycle should focus on the following priorities and expected outcomes:

  • Developing a holistic approach linking education, training, youth work and employment, and increasing cross-sector cooperation between stakeholders,
  • Strengthening the social dimension of education and training and delivering on the strategic objective ‘Promote equity, social cohesion and active citizenship’ of ET2020. This also means promoting learning interventions for those not in 2 employment and enhancing the recognition and validation of non-formal and informal learning outcomes, especially for low-qualified youth/adults and marginalised groups,
  • Providing additional support, especially from national authorities, to ensure the professionalization of teachers (e.g. pedagogical and digital skills),
  • Encouraging the transnational mobility of learners and educators,
  • Supporting entrepreneurship education at all levels (starting at primary school level),
  • Improving learning outcomes relative to resources used (efficiency).

ET2020 working methods/governance

The Forum participants confirmed the importance of ET2020 for mutual learning through peer learning activities and sharing of best practices. They also recognised the key role played by the European Commission in promoting these activities.

On the other hand, participants emphasised the need to improve the ET2020 governance and working methods by:

  • Focussing on a limited number of priorities and on implementation, in the sectors where the EU can add value,
  • Developing a more systematic approach to enhance peer learning; setting up platforms to learn, exchange ideas and share good practice examples,
  • Communicating results and disseminating successful policies and best practices more effectively – at both national and EU level – using clearer language to allow key messages to reach a wider audience.

Stakeholder involvement

The key messages related to stakeholder involvement can be divided in two groups. On the one hand, the Forum participants advocated a better involvement of the stakeholders in the ET 2020 governance process and working methods, including suggestions for:

  • Involving different actors in the next ET2020 work cycle – notably parents and families, youth organisations, companies and the self-employed, and social partners,
  • Widening the range of stakeholder groups involved in ET2020 debates, for example by enhancing collaboration with representatives from informal and non-formal education, training and youth work,
  • Consulting educators on what they want to achieve and how.

On the other hand, the participants suggested a number of substantive ET2020 policy priorities concerning stakeholders, including:

  • Promoting cooperation mechanisms and increasing synergies across policies and between stakeholders from the variety of formal, informal and non-formal sectors,
  • Developing a community-based approach to education and the delivery of integrated services, and support to adult participation. This may involve reinforcing the links between schools and families to assist disadvantaged parents in helping their children to succeed,
  • Promoting active citizenship to support learners’ commitment in society.

Workshops took place on the following topics, and gathered stakeholders’ key policy proposals and processes and synergies:

  1. Promoting excellence and innovation
  2. Tackling the low-skills gap
  3. Supporting a new generation of educators
  4. Recognising and valuing skills and competences
  5. Promoting equity, social cohesion and active citizenship

European Education, Training and Youth Forum 2014 webpage

DG EAC Education, Training and Youth Forum 2014 event page (including video)

Education and Training Monitor 2014 now available

ETM2014The third annual edition of the Education and Training Monitor charts the evolution of education and training systems across Europe. It brings together, in a concise, digestible way, the latest quantitative and qualitative data, recent technical reports and studies, plus policy documents and developments.

While focused on empirical evidence, each section in the Monitor has clear policy messages for the Member States.

The Education and Training Monitor 2014 supports the implementation of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020) by strengthening the evidence-base and by linking it more closely to the broader Europe 2020 strategy and the country-specific recommendations (CSRs) adopted by the Council as part of the 2014 European Semester.

On its official website, the Education and Training Monitor 2014  is accompanied by twenty-eight country reports, as well as a visualisation tool to evaluate the performance and progress of the Member States in relation to the ET 2020 targets.

Via European Commission

Some highlights of the Education and Training Monitor 2014 

Education has to live up to its potential to level the playing field, to avoid proactively any form of discrimination and social exclusion, and to provide chances for all learners. Socio-economic and socio-cultural inequalities continue to impact negatively upon educational outcomes. Parental education attainment still determines to a large extent one’s own education attainment and new evidence suggests that intergenerational education mobility is actually slowing down in the industrialised world. Ten countries received CSRs to focus on disadvantaged learners in particular (AT, BG, CZ, DE, DK, HU, LU, RO, SE and SK). Although tackling educational disadvantage is complex and requires wide-ranging, integrated strategies, Member States cannot afford to ignore these challenges. (p.28)

ETM2014_ESL

Reducing the number of early school leavers will save Europe large  public and social costs and protect the individual  for a high risk of poverty and social exclusion. There are still more than five million early school leavers across Europe, facing an unemployment rate of 41%. As Europe gets closer to the EU2020 headline target, 12.0% in 2013,  it becomes increasingly visible what  a complex, multifaceted problem early school leaving is. A slow but steady progress is hiding significant disparities between but also within countries. The risk of early school leaving is 33.3% higher amongst men; more than twice as high for foreign-born; no less than 156.1% higher for those suffering  physical difficulties; and more than three times as high in bottom-performing regions than in top-performing regions in BG, CZ, PL, ES, UK and BE. (p.34)
etm2014_tertiary attainment

In higher education, broadening access and reducing dropout rates amongst disadvantaged groups remains challenging. The rate of tertiary education attainment in Europe has steadily grown to 36.9%, yet high-qualified employment is forecasted to have increased a further 13% by 2020. Moreover, the persisting disparities between and within countries leave no room for complacency. The rate of tertiary education attainment is 26% higher amongst women; about 10% higher for native-born; 62.4% lower for individuals suffering physical difficulties; and in CZ, RO and SK, bottom-performing regions have attainment rates that are at least 60% lower than those found in top-performing regions. Only a handful of countries strive to widen participation and boost completion rates amongst disadvantaged groups. (p.41)

 

Education and Training in Europe 2020 – Responses from the EU Member States

Education and Training in Europe 2020: Responses from the EU MemThe Eurydice Network Report presents a focused comparative analysis of national responses to the Europe 2020 priorities in the field of education and training. It concentrates on recent and forthcoming national reforms across several thematic areas that have a direct relevance to the Europe 2020 strategy: early school leaving, higher education, youth employment and vocational education and training and lifelong learning.

The report reflects the prominent place of Education and Training in the Europe 2020 strategy. A headline target has been set for education which specifies twin goals on early school leaving and higher education attainment, while under the European semester of economic governance, the key messages of the Annual Growth Survey as well as an increasing number of Country-specific Recommendations have strong links with education and training.

Via European Commission – Education and Training

Download Full Report (English)

Download Europe 2020: National Examples (English)

Via Eurydice Thematic Reports

Students from a migrant background, are mentioned in relation to the sections on early school leaving, higher education and training and lifelong learning. However, they are not specifically mentioned in the section on youth unemployment and vocational education, despite the fact that access to and successful completion of vocational education is more difficult for young people with a migrant background (see SIRIUS report on Vocational Education and Training to counter Social Exclusion).

Many of the country-specific recommendations (Annex 1) that were adopted by the Council in 2012 and 2013 highlight the need for measures aimed specifically at students with a migrant background.

Hungary: Migrant’s Help Association of Hungary (MIGHelp)

Logo

On 27 November 2013, I interviewed James Peter, President of the Migrant’s Help Association of Hungary (MIGHelp) in order for him to tell me more about the organisation itself and the work MIGHelp does on education and skills training for refugees and migrants. 

SIRIUS: Why was the Migrant’s Help Association of Hungary set up?

James Peter

The setting up of MIGHelp is a very long story. As a refugee from a West African country I lived in various refugee camps in Hungary and witnessed the tensions and also violence arising from conflicts between different refugee groups. In this context, I noticed that it might be worthwhile for refugees to learn conflict resolution skills. The response to the trainings that were voluntarily offered by a non-violence communication trainer was positive throughout but it also became evident that the refugees had other pressing needs. Many wanted to pursue education and training to obtain skills and to eventually find a job. The education and skills refugees have gained in their countries of origins are often insufficient to successfully integrate into the Hungarian labour market. A group of refuges and migrants therefore began to look for ways to address some of those needs. This is how MIGHelp was set up.

SIRIUS: How does MIGHelp support inclusive education?

MIGHelp aims to empower refugees and migrants by developing and strengthening their skills through access to education and job training. For this purpose, MIGHelp works with many different partners.

classroomBy now, there are several activities MIGHelp is engaged in. It all started with setting up an ECDL (European Computer Driving License) test centre – a challenging endeavour because it was the first accredited ECDL centre ever to be set up in a refugee camp. Given that an increasing number of jobs available in the future will require digital literacy, it is important to equip refugees and migrants with the necessary skills. Digital literacy should not be an exclusive right. To the contrary, it is particularly useful for newcomers enabling them to more easily integrate into their new environment. In this spirit, ECDL Hungary and MIGHelp set up an ECDL test centre in the refugee camp in Bicske, with the support of the Hungarian Immigration office which offered the space in the refugee camp for the centre.

Refugees in the camp now report less conflict and violence, because they have the possibility to invest their energy in something useful and can pursue their education and skills development. In the centre, refugees learn basic computer skills to pass the test and receive an officially recognised ECDL certificate.

In order to broaden the scope of training opportunities and to meet the growing interest for these trainings and ECDL tests among the refugee as well as the migrant community, we have also set up a training and test centre in Budapest.

diploma

The very positive feedback to these basic trainings and the interest amongst refugees and migrants to pursue further training, motivated MIGHelp to look for ways to provide more advanced courses. After extensive lobbying, McDaniel College in Budapest has opened up its curriculum for a number of refugees who – after having passed an entrance test – are able to follow advanced courses in web design, web programming, graphics and data management.

Finally, a very important initiative to support inclusive education is the so-called “One seat” project. MIGHelp tries to engage universities to offer one place to a refugee or migrant waiving the tuition fees. To date, four universities in Budapest take part in the initiative and we aim to engage more of them in the future. MIGHelp also connects the refugees and migrants with the university’s student union. Master students voluntarily offer tutorials and preparation classes, especially in maths, to prepare the refugees and migrants for the Hungarian university entry exam.

SIRIUS: How is MIGHelp run?

MIGHelp is now registered as a public benefit NGO. There are seven board members, mostly former migrants and refugees, who advice the organisation. All the field activities are organised by refugees and other volunteers. The organisation has a wide network of supporters who also offer advice or equipment. Cooperation with partners is vital. We conduct extensive advocacy in order to get universities, colleges and other education institutions involved in refugee and migrant education. 

SIRIUS: What are the main challenges MIGHelp faces?

Getting partners on board is not always easy. A lot of explanation and convincing are necessary. Many people and institutions in Hungary do not know about the situation of refugees and migrants living in the country. When first asked to offer their curriculum also to refugees and migrants, educational institutions are all too often confused and sceptical, but when all questions are answered and clarified they usually embrace the idea. It is thus very important to emphasize the importance of empowering refugees and migrants to actively take part in society as exclusion could lead to marginalization, criminality and even violence affecting the society as a whole.

We, refugees and migrants in Hungary, clearly understand that the economic downturn affects everyone in the country and might fuel discrimination in society. Therefore, we all want to contribute to the growth of the Hungarian economy, and the only way to be able to make such a contribution is to obtain education and training, go to college, develop job skills or establish a private business.

Another challenge is related to funding. At the beginning, I put my own money into the organization and approached embassies and other institutions for them to provide old equipment they did not use anymore. By now, MIGHelp has several sponsors. With the help of European funding, we are now for example also able to pay the teachers at McDaniel College in Budapest who had previously provided the classes for free. However, securing funding is still a considerable challenge. Given that IT is still a male dominated area, we reached out to ask women about their interests. But so far it has not been possible to acquire funding for women to receive kindergarten teacher training. MIGHelp understands that its aims cannot be achieved without proper financial support. We will continue to explore every possible avenue for financial support. We are also open to a partnership with any organization or company that may be interested working with us.

SIRIUS: What is MIGHelp’s mission and vision for the future?

In the future, we aim to provide courses to everyone, be it refugees, migrants or Hungarian citizens. In addition, the cooperation with universities should be strengthened. MIGHelp hopes to transform its Budapest computer centre from a mere skill training centre into an entrepreneurial and innovation hub that will also serve as an agent of social cohesion and greater economic progress. Finally, pursuing education should eventually translate into finding a job. Therefore, the cooperation with private companies is another vision MIGHelp has for the future.

 

By Katharina Bürkin

Photos from MigHelp Facebook Page