Last week the Education and Training Monitor 2017 was launched by the European Commission. The monitor is Commission's flagship annual publication on education and training in the EU: with its international comparison and country analysis, the Education and Training Monitor fuels the debate on priority themes for education and training and informs national education reform debates.

We are concerned with continuously high levels of socioeconomic inequality in accessing education and educational outcomes, which  the Monitor indicates. Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds (still) perform worse than their peers who are better off. Governments need to provide more support for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to secure their right to education.

In order to address these inequalities, OBESSU is focusing its advocacy work on four main areas:

  1. More attention to marginalised students, especially with migrant background.

The Monitor shows that 19,4% early school leavers are foreign-born (1),  number almost twice as high than average. We have worked much on the topic of the inclusion of migrant and refugee students in the past two years and have continuously highlighted the need for more government action to address disadvantage of migrant and refugee students in accessing and staying in education.

We call for:

  • Abolishment of any fees and other access restrictions related to secondary education
  • Enshrine the right to education regardless citizenship status in national law

  • Making intercultural education part of curricula at all levels

  • Provision of free language courses off the arrival country.

  1. More investment in student well-being.

OBESSU consultations of our 31 national member organisations has shown that many countries still lag behind in providing essential support services for school students. We are convinced that well-being needs to encompass attention to social, economic and health needs (for detailed analysis of this aspect please see OBESSU Policy Paper on Welfare).

We call for:

  • Student income for everyone who holds the status of a school student

  • Free public transportation for school students

  • Develop school policy and practices in cooperation with school students and other expert civil society organisations against discrimination in schools

  • Free and accessible health services for school students, giving attention to both physical and mental health.

  1. Supporting school-to-work transitions.

The Monitor finds that in 2016, only 44.0 % of young people (18-24) who had finished school below the upper secondary level were employed. (2) This clearly shows insufficient support for students leaving secondary education that are seeking work.

We call for:

  • Quality accessible career councelling for students as part of secondary education
  • Ensuring access to quality apprenticeships for all school students.
  • Government support for widening access to paid internships for students (3)
  1. Student involvement in governance and quality assurance.

The Monitor notes that “Making school more participatory by getting parents, the local community and other stakeholders more closely involved, is believed to be an indispensable part of the modernisation of high-quality education for all”. (4)

We strongly believe that democratic participation of school students needs to be institutionalized in education systems. Participatory decision making in schools and other education institutions  needs to  give learners as the biggest group adequate attention.

We call for:

  • Recognition of school students as  equal partners in all decision-making processes
  • Structures and bodies supporting active student participation to be established in every secondary school in Europe

 

OBESSU looks forward to achieving the objectives set by ET2020 to address challenges in education and training systems. We are happy that the Monitor demonstrates progress with regards to reaching the targets set by the strategy. Still, we have to be cautious to not overestimate what the data tells us: we need to look beyond averages and pay attention to outcomes for different socioeconomic groups. Even though we are making progress, there’s still a long way to go in order to tackle these issues before 2020. In order to do so, stakeholders need to be consulted for results interpretation and policy planning. More initiatives have to be implemented, with the direct involvement of school students, in order to overcome the inequalities that still are present in the education system.

We have an exhaustive list of policy claims for all of the aforementioned areas - please consult our Political Platform, the reference document for our policy and advocacy work.

For questions on the reaction please contact OBESSU Board: board@obessu.org

 

(1) https://ec.europa.eu/education/sites/education/files/monitor2017_en.pdf, p.58
(2) https://ec.europa.eu/education/sites/education/files/monitor2017_en.pdf, p.9
(3) https://obessu.org/site/assets/files/1297/2016_-_recommendations_on_the_relation_between_education_and_the_labour_market.pdf
(4) https://ec.europa.eu/education/sites/education/files/monitor2017_en.pdf, p.13