On 16 October, the European Commission launched the ‘Education and Training Monitor 2018‘. The monitor is the Commission flagship annual publication on education and training in the EU. It presents an assessment of the progress being made, compares national education and training systems, provides country analysis, highlights challenges at the EU level and sets key priorities and objectives. This edition focuses particularly on Citizenship Education.

This year, DG Education and Culture of the European Commission held for the occasion a seminar in which OBESSU participated. European Commissioner Tibor Navracsics introduced the Monitor, highlighting the main findings.  This was followed by a panel discussion on the topic of Citizenship Education. The panelist were Isabel Menezes from the Centre for Research and Intervention in Education of the University of Porto, Isabelle De Coster from Eurydice, Ralph Carstens, from the  International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) and Bartek Lessaer from DG EAC.

Despite the overall positive tone of Commissioner Navracsics, the seminar was opened by an alarming finding that only 50% of students have trust in civic institutions. This could be tackled by implementing Citizenship Education curricula in schools. One of the actions needed to take and addressed by Commissioner Navracsics is to invest more money in education. Currently, member states spend in average only 4,7% of their GDP.

More attention to marginalised students, especially with migrant background is also needed. The monitor shows that 19,4% of foreign-born students drop out of school while it is the case of 9,4% of native-born students. Governments should address more seriously the disadvantages faced by migrant and refugee students in accessing and staying in education.

Commissioner Navracsics also mentioned the vision to create a European Education Area by 2025 in order to foster learning mobility and enhance the feeling of European identity. Finally, he commented on the status of the teachers’ profession and how to promote its attractiveness. It was claimed that a long-term solution is needed, to build respect for the position as well as to motivate teachers by giving them space to be more autonomous and learning mobility opportunities.

During the panel discussion on Citizenship Education, Isabelle De Coster introduced the report ‘Citizenship Education at School in Europe 2017‘. It serves as an overview on regulations and recommendations regarding Citizenship Education across the EU and compares different implementation approaches, for example teachers’ training or its integration to school curricula. One of the issues mentioned was the mean of measuring civic attitudes in a society and the definition of Citizenship Education itself. The dual role of education was underlined; it should not only pass on the knowledge, but also develop students’ civic competences, make them aware of their rights and responsibilities. We were happy to hear the acknowledgement that it is necessary to involve young people into the political discussions, even before they are legally entitled to vote.

The seminar was a great opportunity to reflect on the progress being made by the EU’s education and training systems in meeting shared education objectives. The Monitor enhances the future cooperation of the Member States and the Education and Training framework of the EU for 2020. The special focus on Citizenship Education is a reasonable step forward but there is still a long way to go.