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Pathways to School Success: Support from local level is crucial to reach EU targets  

Representatives of EU's cities and regions have adopted an opinion drafted by Mayor of Kuldīga Inga Bērziņa (LV/Renew Europe) on the Pathways to School Success initiative, with which the European Commission aims to improve education outcomes for all young Europeans. Ms Bērziņa presented her opinion at the European Committee of the Regions' plenary session in Brussels on 12 October. It highlights the role of regions and cities in modernising educational infrastructure, promoting equal opportunities and developing models of cooperation and solutions adapted to the local context.

With the Pathways to School Success initiative, the European Commission is encouraging a "whole school approach" which engages actively all members of the school community and external stakeholders. Support from local and regional authorities is crucial to achieve key targets, such as reducing the share of low-achievers in basic skills and countering early leaving from education and training. Currently only 84.3% of young Europeans complete upper secondary education and one in five 15-year-olds cannot perform basic tasks in reading, maths or science.

"High-quality education and training systems that are inclusive and equally accessible to all, regardless of the learners' personal characteristics, family, cultural and socioeconomic situation, create not only paths to school success, but also our common path to social cohesion and a more sustainable economy in the European Union. Local and regional authorities have responsibilities at school level and contribute to the development of models of cooperation in which, together with stakeholders from the public, private and academic sectors, a strong emphasis is placed on citizens and their needs", rapporteur Inga Bērziņa highlights.

In view of the impact on national and local budgets of Russia's war in Ukraine, the energy crisis and rapid inflation, the opinion stresses the importance of long-term support from the EU Structural Funds for municipal projects to modernise the learning environment. It also calls for tailored and smart language learning programmes for Ukrainian refugees and other pupils who do not speak the language of the EU Member State concerned.

Furthermore, the Covid-19 pandemic has had negative effects on pupils' well-being and learning motivation. The rapporteur points out that collecting and analysing data at all levels of government can help deduce common trends behind early school leaving, and accordingly prepare solutions at local level and adapt national education policies.

"For example, in Latvia an interactive tool has been developed at national level to collect information on pupils from the moment the teacher identifies a risk of their dropping out. It offers a wide range of statistics at local and regional authority level on the causes and trends of school dropouts", the Mayor of Kuldīga explains.

In addition to her role as rapporteur of this important opinion, Ms Bērziņa was last week elected first vice-chair of the SEDEC Commission, which leads the European Committee of the Regions' work in the field of social, employment, education, culture and research policies.

More information:

Pathways to School Success, a flagship initiative of the European Education Area, aims to boost the inclusive dimension of education by supporting EU Member States in reducing low achievement in basic skills and increasing secondary education attainment. Its key objective is to promote better educational outcomes for all young Europeans, irrespective of their personal characteristics, family, socio-economic and cultural background.

Early leavers from education and training still represent 9.9% of young people in the EU and only 84.3% of young people have completed upper secondary education. One in five 15-year-old Europeans cannot perform basic tasks in reading, maths or science. The socio-economic background of a learner and their family continues to be the strongest determinant of educational outcomes.


Lauri Ouvinen

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