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19th Sep 2018

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EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems

  • Education commissioner Navracsics said school students should have 'at least one entrepreneurial experience before they leave compulsory education, in primary or secondary schools' (Photo: Pixabay)

The European Commission said on Wednesday (17 January) that pupils' education has to be improved through work experiences while at school, a wider knowledge of the European Union and better digital skills.

These proposals are part of a wider EU strategy that concerns the future of citizens' education.

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Pupils don't have the right attitudes "to face a volatile job markets and fast changing societies," EU education commissioner Tibor Navracsics warned.

That is why they should have "at least one entrepreneurial experience before they leave compulsory education, in primary or secondary schools," the commissioner added.

Besides that, the commission calls on member states to create platforms to bring together schools and businesses, train teachers, and create mini 'companies' within schools.

Entrepreneurial competences, the commission's proposal explains, help to develop attitudes "including creativity, initiative-taking, teamwork, understanding of risk and a sense of responsibility."

A European education for youngsters to make them "engaged citizens with a strong sense of belonging" to the EU was a paramount importance, Navracsics added.

That is because the widespread lack of knowledge of the Union, of its functioning and its objectives "favours misinformation" the commission warned in its proposal.

Such misinformation and fake news can "put the foundation of societies at risk," Navracsics added.

The commission sees mobility as a tool to increase European identity, and intends to boost it by continuing to fund the programmes such as Erasmus+ and especially short-term exchanges among European schools.

Members of the Erasmus generation have "better skills and opportunities" and the business community welcome them, said Navracsics.

This is why the commissioner vowed to get as much funds "as we can" for Erasmus+.

Other instruments will address virtual mobility, including one million teachers and schools in the so-called e-twinning network, a platform that allows pupils and teachers to communicate, collaborate and develop projects through a "learning community."

Another initiative that the commission will promote is the development of digital skills to fill the gap between the use of digital technology in everyday life and in education.

90 percent of jobs require digital literacy

The problem is serious, EU digital commissioner Mariya Gabriel warned: "while 90 percent of future jobs require some level of digital literacy, 44 percent of Europeans lack basic digital skills."

Developing high-speed broadband connections is also part of the proposals.

Only 18 percent of classrooms are internet-equipped and schools are often unaware of how to use EU funds, said the education commissioner.

Other measures will include the development of a self-assessment tool to help schools better use technology for teaching and learning, and a initiative aimed at raising girls' interest in scientific and digital matters.

Wednesday's proposals follow a commission's initiative last November – supported later that month by the EU leaders in Gothenburg – for the creation of a European Education Area by 2025, focused on raising EU citizens' digital skills, EU identity and mobility.

Further steps will be discussed during at next week's first education summit in Brussels (25 January) where 24 EU education ministers will meet experts.

The European Commission has limited competencies in the area of education.

However, explained Navracsics, the EU executive is willing to "encourage member states to push issues forward, organise platforms, events and working groups, help governments to introduce measures."

"We will keep this kind of political influence" the commissioner vowed. "I hope that we will manage to reach consensus - so far there has been," he added.

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