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New report - More work needed to ensure that all children in Europe have access to #QualityEarlyEducation and care

EU Reporter Correspondent

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The European Commission's Eurydice network has published its latest report on Key Data on Early Childhood Education and Care in Europe. The report concludes that many European countries are not offering universal access to high quality early childhood education and care.

Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Commissioner Tibor Navracsics (pictured) said: “We clearly need to do more to make sure that every child in the EU has access to quality early childhood education and care. This is vital to give everyone the best start in life and to build fair, cohesive and resilient societies. This report shows what countries are doing to ensure access and quality and allows us to concentrate our efforts on specific areas of improvement. Some countries are doing well, while others lag behind. As we continue to build a true European Education Area, this report is a good basis for further work to guarantee universal access across the EU.” Six quality dimensions are analysed in the report: governance, access, the workforce, educational guidelines, as well as monitoring and the evaluation of early childhood education and care systems.

These aspects are also the focus of the recently adopted Council Recommendation on High Quality Early Childhood Education and Care Systems. This Recommendation, which is one of the building blocks of the European Education Area the Commission intends to build with member states by 2025, is designed to help develop a common understanding of what constitutes good quality service provision and to support member states in improving access to and quality of their systems. As the report published today shows, many European countries cannot yet provide education and care of good quality at all ages of early childhood, often maintaining a division between child care and pre-primary education.

The report is available online.

Education

An ambitious and more inclusive Erasmus+ takes off with €28 billion to support mobility and learning

Catherine Feore

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The Commission today (25 March) adopted the first annual work programme of Erasmus+ 2021-2027. With a budget of €26.2 billion, the programme has nearly doubled in scale and is hoping to be more inclusive and have a stronger emphasis on both the green and digital transition. 

Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Commisioner Mariya Gabriel said: “The fact that the Erasmus+ budget for the next seven years has almost doubled shows the importance given to education, lifelong learning and youth in Europe.

“The current pandemic has exacerbated inequality, especially for young people. The principle of solidarity must be the driving force between our actions here, and we are working with organizations that represent and work with people who have fewer opportunities to help them gain access to this programme. I'm talking about people from less favoured socio-economic backgrounds, people living in rural areas, isolated people, or people with disabilities. For example, we cover the costs of people who are accompanying participants with disabilities.”

The new Erasmus+ programme provides opportunities for study periods abroad, traineeships, apprenticeships, and staff exchanges in all fields of education, training, youth and sport. It is open to school pupils, higher education and vocational education and training students, adult learners, youth exchanges, youth workers and sports coaches.

In addition to mobility, which counts for 70% of the budget, the new Erasmus+ also invests in cross‑border co-operation projects. These can be between higher education institutions (e.g. the European Universities initiative); schools; teacher education and training colleges (e.g. Erasmus+ Teacher Academies); adult learning centres; youth and sport organisations; providers of vocational education and training (e.g. Vocational Centres of Excellence).

The main features of the Erasmus+ 2021-2027 programme are:

Inclusive Erasmus+: providing enhanced opportunities to people with fewer opportunities, including people with diverse cultural, social and economic backgrounds, and people living in rural and remote areas. Novelties include individual and class exchanges for school pupils and mobility for adult learners. It will be easier for smaller organisations, such as schools, youth associations and sports clubs to apply, thanks to small-scale partnerships and the use of simplified grant applications. The programme will also be more international, allowing cooperation with third countries, building on the successes of the previous programme with exchanges and cooperation projects around the world. 

Digital Erasmus+: The pandemic highlighted the need to accelerate the digital transition of education and training systems. Erasmus+ will support the development of digital skills, in line with the Digital Education Action Plan. It will provide high-quality digital training and exchanges via platforms such as eTwinning, School Education Gateway and the European Youth Portal, and it will encourage traineeships in the digital sector. New formats, such as blended intensive programmes, will allow short-term physical mobility abroad to be complemented with online learning and teamwork. The implementation of the programme will be further digitalised and simplified with the full roll-out of the European Student Card.

Green Erasmus+: In line with the European Green Deal, the programme will offer financial incentives to participants using sustainable modes of transport. It will also invest in projects promoting awareness of environmental issues and facilitate exchanges related to mitigating the climate crisis.

Erasmus+ for young people: DiscoverEU now becomes an integral part of Erasmus+ and gives 18 year-olds the possibility to get a rail pass to travel across Europe, learn from other cultures and meet fellow Europeans. Erasmus+ will also support exchange and cooperation opportunities through new youth participation activities, to help young people engage and learn to participate in democratic life, raising awareness about shared European values and fundamental rights; and bringing young people and decision-makers together at local, national and European level.

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Education

Education: Commission publishes overview report on teachers in Europe

EU Reporter Correspondent

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The European Commission has published the report ‘Teachers in Europe'. It sheds light on several key aspects of teachers' professional life, from careers and professional development to their wellbeing, in particular of lower secondary education teachers. Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Commissioner Mariya Gabrielaid: “Teachers are the front-line workers in education. Having motivated teachers is an essential pre-requisite for a successful education system, in which pupils from all backgrounds can flourish and reach their full potential. The transition from face-to-face to distance learning has further underlined the vital role of teachers. I am confident that this report will be a great help to education policy‑makers and other stakeholders at national and European level.”

Although, on average in the EU, one teacher out of five works on a temporary contract, this ratio becomes one in three for teachers under 35 years of age. The report examines teachers' initial education, and policies that may influence the take up of continuing professional development. It also explores teachers' wellbeing at work, considering that, at EU level, almost 50% of teachers report experiencing stress at work. The report also suggests that teachers who have been abroad during their initial teacher education tend to be more mobile during their professional life. The EU programmes are the main funding schemes for teacher transnational mobility, compared to national or regional programmes.

The report covers all 27 EU member states, as well as the United Kingdom, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Switzerland, North Macedonia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia, and Turkey. This report was drafted by the Eurydice Network, which provides reliable information and comprehensive analyses of European education systems and policies. The network consists of national units located in European countries and is coordinated by the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency. More information is available online and the full report is here.

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Science

European Commission launches open access publishing platform for scientific papers

Catherine Feore

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Today (24 March), the European Commission launches its Open Research Europe publishing platform for scientific papers. The site will provide free-of-charge access to everyone: researchers, businesses and citizens alike. The platform will publish the results of research funded by Horizon Europe, the EU research and innovation programme for 2021-2027, and its predecessor, Horizon 2020.

Open Research Europe gives everyone, researchers and citizens alike, free-of-charge access to the latest scientific discoveries. It directly addresses major difficulties often associated with publishing scientific results, including delays and barriers to the re-use of results and high costs.

The response to the coronavirus pandemic has shown the potential of open science to increase collaboration, illustrating how immediate access to publications and data have been crucial in helping researchers to find new treatments, diagnostics and vaccines. 

Currently, 91% of all publications and 95% of all peer-reviewed publications funded by Horizon 2020 are open access. Nonetheless, the ambition is that all scholarly publications stemming from the research funding of the Commission are made publicly available for free. In particular, the aim for Horizon Europe is that publications will be openly accessible from the moment they are published.

Open science ensures that publicly funded research and innovation systems are made more widely available, helping to share results, promoting innovation and improving access.  

Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for said: “We need to accelerate scientific discovery through more collaborative and open research practices. By helping researchers to publish in open access, Open Research Europe removes the barriers to knowledge flows and cultivates scientific debate.”

The platform will be managed by F1000, a London-based company.

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