to welcome the Commission proposals to modernise education and to offer support in the framework of the process of reinforcing the compatibility, interoperability and development of the various European systems of school and higher education and training;
to welcome the proposal for a Council Recommendation as a step forward for European cooperation, considering that the availability of comparable information on graduate (un)employment across the EU is crucial in order to be able to address, inter alia, the brain drain within and across European regions;
to promote new learning approaches, through various forms of IT-based learning, and ask to also include outreach activities for disadvantaged groups;
to place the CoR as a partner in the process of drawing up policy for the development and modernisation of school and higher education and, during the consultative process, to make as much use as possible of the expertise of local and regional authorities.
In relation to the "Council Recommendation on tracking graduates", the focus on the inclusion of regional and local authorities besides mention of the outermost regions was reflected to a certain degree in the final text adopted by the Council. Recital (3) in the Preamble takes into consideration the specificities of "particular regions", while Recital (7) reffers to "differences in trends or outcomes across countries and regions". Moreover, Paragraph 6 includes among the objectives "improving skills matching to support competitiveness and innovation at local, regional and national level, and to resolve skills shortages".
The Commission also welcomes the inclusion of such references to the local and regional levels and will keep them in mind during the implementation of the Recommendation.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- considers that it is high time for the necessary investment to be made in educational infrastructure, both in more developed and less developed regions, always taking care to adapt coordinated investment to the specific features of the region concerned. In this connection, it is particularly important to allow for greater support from the European Investment Bank and the European funds for regional initiatives aimed at developing education;
- agrees that the pedagogical, psychological and methodological preparation of school and higher-education teachers and trainers is a key condition for successful education in the future and therefore considers it particularly necessary in this rapidly developing area to share best practice, which teachers and trainers could become familiar with and adopt via the mobility available to them under the Erasmus programme, and support joint innovation projects;
- stresses that, with regard to school, training and possibly higher education provided in the languages of national or ethnic minorities, everything possible should be done to prevent any restriction on access to education for pupils from minorities and to set up systems that will enable any graduate from a minority background or intra-EU immigrant to enjoy the same opportunities for accessing continuing training and employment as other graduates;
- acknowledges that, in several Member States, religious educational institutions and schools, as well as higher education and training institutions run by churches and religious organisations make a major contribution to schooling and higher education in Europe, therefore there can be no discrimination against them, like against any education institutions, as long as the national education curriculum is implemented. At the same time, underlines that secular education and the respect for different religions and beliefs are cornerstones of European integration.