Education and Training Monitor 2015: Investment in education and in teachers is fundamental


On 12 November 2015, the European Commission has published the Education and Training Monitor 2015. The Monitor assesses progress of Member States towards the achievement of Education and Training 2020 (ET2020) targets. It comes along with 28 in-depth country reports which complement the global EU-analysis with country-specific information on policy developments and the latest reforms. The Monitor is one of the main sources which will feed into the European Commission’s analysis of challenges in the 2016 European Semester on education and training. By keeping tracks of progress towards the achievement of ET2020 targets, the Monitor contributes to the overall Europe 2020 strategy with its two headline targets on education.

This year, the Monitor has identified two areas of priority within the field of education and training: investment in education and inclusion through education. It also identifies policy actions needed to improve inclusiveness, relevance and quality of education in Europe. The Monitor highlights that despite the large consensus on the need to foster investments in education; yet, the vast majority of Member States have decreased its investment.  According to the data reported, in the last years, Member States that have experienced a budget cut are: the Netherlands, Finland, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Currently, underachievement of basic skills in one of the greatest challenge, as it is still mostly linked to the socio-economic background of students. No EU Member State has managed to bring underachievement of basic skills of 15-years-olds with low socio-economic background below the rate of 15%. Alike, the rate of early school leavers stands at 11.1% in the EU. Just like the formers, the tertiary education attainment rate shows a strong link with the students’ background. It now stands at 37.9%, but the population of graduates still reflects the parental condition.

According to the Monitor, the role of teachers and educators is central to improve inclusiveness, quality and relevance of education. Initial teacher training and their continuous professional development (CPD) are crucial for quality and inclusive education. The Monitor clearly states that induction, initial training and continuous professional development should be incentivised by governments and that offers of training for teachers have to be barrier-free.

Martin Rømer, ETUCE European Director, commented: ‘We welcome that the European Commission finally recognises what we, in ETUCE, have been advocating for a long time now: professional development of teachers is central for quality education. However, the current situation uncovers a big contradiction: the reduction of investment in education has been deteriorating and not improving, teachers’ working conditions and their professional development. Teachers bear a big responsibility for the educational outcomes of their students and it is unacceptable that today teachers undertake professional development courses on own cost and outside working time.’

Commenting on the wish expressed in the Monitor by the European Commissioner for Education and Training Tibor Navracsisc to exploit the opportunity of the European Fund for Strategic Investment to attract private capital into education to secure investments, ETUCE recalls that education is a fundamental human right and a public good and as such it must remain the principal responsibility of governments to adequately finance education systems. Member States should be encouraged instead to take all the measures to ensure that they have sufficient revenue to fund education. This includes by fighting tax heavens, combating corporate tax evasions, and implementing financial transaction taxes. Teacher unions in Europe and worldwide will stand to defend public quality education for all and to warn of the severe risks in terms of educational access, equity and quality if governments turn on, or partner with, private actors to deliver education.