EU-wide education spending increases for first time in years
EU states posted a modest increase in annual spending for education for the first time in three years.
The EU commission announced on Monday (7 November) that public spending EU-wide had increased by 1.1 percent annually, basing its claim on 2014 data..
Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, Romania and Slovakia saw public funding increase by 5 percent or more.
But others cut spending like Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Italy, Lithuania and Slovenia. Public investment dropped the most in Cyprus, followed by Croatia and Slovenia.
"Unfortunately there are some governments that cut the spending on education in 2014, that is why the picture is mixed," EU commissioner for education Tibor Navracsics told reporters in Brussels.
"It really gives some hope for us because you may know that European Union education systems have been lagging behind other regions in the world."
The figures are part of a larger EU commission monitoring report on education.
The long term plan includes reducing early school drop-out rates for EU states to below 10 percent by 2020. Last year's EU-wide drop-out rate was 11 percent, a slight improvement from 2014 (11.2 percent).
But Navracsics also pointed out that some EU states were investing heavily to accommodate the large inflow of refugees. Over 1 million arrived last year and some 30 percent are under the age of 18.
He noted that Germany was discussing plans to recruit 40,000 teachers and social workers to support refugees and migrants.
"Finland has boosted financial support to municipalities to organise preparatory classes and Belgium has increased capacity of reception classes and the number of language teachers," he said.
Navracsics said refugee children who have arrived alone provided a huge challenge, particularly because many lack any educational background.