24th January 2023
Why investing lifelong learning in EU regions?
It is important for the EU to harness the potential from close cooperation and peer-learning among regions. Results from the Regional and Local Barometer indicate that 89% of Europeans consider that regions and cities should have a bigger say in EU policies. In order to cooperate successfully, however, different aspects need to be taken into account including the wide variety of regional configurations from federal States to more centralised ones as well as from different land and/or population sizes. Education and training policy is one of the key areas where EU regions could increase their cooperation. In 2020, an important step was taken by DG EAC and the Committee of the Regions (CoR) through a Joint Action Plan to boost cooperation in research and innovation, education and culture. But there is much more left to be explored.
Collaborative monitoring of regional lifelong learning policies
During the last edition of the LLLWeek which is organised by the Lifelong Learning Platform in Brussels, a workshop took place bringing together regional, EU and civil society experts and representatives to discuss the importance of monitoring regional lifelong learning policies through collaborative approaches. Different initiatives were shared which shed light on the benefits stemming from the exchange of practices among regions, the cooperation between policy, research, employers and civil society as well as the key role of public funding to ensure proper implementation of education and training policies at EU and regional level.
The participants were brought together under the framework of the Comorelp project (2020 – 2023) which aims to deliver Guidelines on regional reviews of lifelong learning policies in partner regions: Wales (UK), Malopolska (PL), Rhône-Alpes Auvergne – AURA (FR), Emilia-Romagna (Italy) and Istanbul (TK) as well as exchanges with stakeholders within and between regions. Other aims of the project include developing a Benchmarking tool for monitoring lifelong learning policies at regional level, the creation of a Policy Lab Platform to implement the cooperation among regions and developing policy recommendations for policy-makers and lifelong learning stakeholders at EU and regional level. A final policy conference is planned in Brussels for 10 May 2023.
Inspiring practices from EU, national and regional policy-makers
Other initiatives shared during the workshop were related to the Technical Support Instrument from DG Reform (European Commission), the IDEE project from France and the Lifelong Learning Dashboard in Flanders region (Belgium).
Through the Technical Support Instrument, the European Commission DG Reform supported the government of Estonia in enhancing data-informed strategic governance in education. Their monitoring covers lifelong learning from kindergarten to upper secondary education, including upper secondary VET with different focus levels such as national, local, school and individual. The Estonian experience highlighted the importance of developing a shared vision and the definition of a monitoring system through consensus with the key stakeholders (including educators and learners) as well as the key role of adequate financial, technical and time resources.
The IDEE project focuses on promoting experimental research and evidence use in the French education system. IDEE was conceived as a long-term investment to develop the infrastructure for experimental research in the French education system – and promote the use of evidence produced by such research to policy-makers.
The Flemish Lifelong Learning Dashboard was created as a result of the Flemish Action plan on lifelong learning. The Flemish government has the mission to gradually build up the existing indicators and develop a growth path for the Dashboard. It monitors 4 main areas: participation in lifelong learning, training efforts of actors, competences and impact of lifelong learning.
Another initiative shared was the European Commission’s Learning Lab (DG EAC) which is conceived to promote evidence-based approaches when it comes to design and implementation, improve evidence and analysis so that public resources that go to education are efficiently and effectively allocated and spent. The main focus of the Lab will be teachers and trainers, digital education, and educational infrastructure (learning environments, renovating buildings, equity and inclusion). It will start with those countries interested to start the experiment (i.e. pilot interventions), the big aim is for the Lab to be composed of representatives from all Member States.
Improving cooperation among (EU) regions on lifelong learning policies
Benchmarking tools can be important instruments to facilitate and foster peer learning among regions around lifelong learning policies. Comorelp project partners aim to develop a flexible and compact tool to support the monitoring of regional lifelong learning policies in a way that fosters collaboration, allowing comparison for peer learning and a focus on improving all education and training systems by identifying regions’ strengths and areas for improvement. In order to build a suitable benchmarking instrument, the Lifelong Learning Platform will organise in the first part of this year an EU policy lab series to reflect on the importance of collaborative monitoring of lifelong learning policies and for regional stakeholders to exchange on their lifelong learning policies.