Monday, 10 September 2012

We Do Need More Education

In the past two weeks the European news were filled with information on the need for better European education systems. Educating youth leads to better informed, empowered adult consumers so this is a topic close to my heart.

Last week the lack of sufficient European literacy was all over the news. Apparently, as much as one in five 15 year olds, as well as nearly 75 million adults, lack basic reading and writing skills. This comes from the new report published in September 2012. Illiteracy is one of the obstacles in finding a job and increases risks of poverty and social exclusion in Europe. Therefore, the European Union Education Ministers set a joint target to reduce the ratio of 15 year olds with reading problems to 15% in 2020 (from the current 20%). The report submitted by the High Level Group of experts in the field of literacy suggests as solution to this problem:

"...advice for parents on creating a culture of reading for pleasure with their children, to siting libraries in unconventional settings like shopping centres and the need to attract more male teachers to act as role models for boys, who read much less than girls. It also makes age-specific recommendations, calling for free, high-quality early childhood education and care for all, more specialist reading teachers in primary schools, a change of mind-set on dyslexia, arguing that almost every child can learn to read with the right support, and for more varied learning opportunities for adults, especially in the workplace." (High level group issues 'wake-up call' for Member States to address literacy crisis)

Check out the EU website on literacy. I'm curious as to what further measures would be undertaken by the EU, since this data could even be considered in deciding whether certain information given to consumers should be seen as clear and comprehensive (which is a requirement in many European consumer legislative measures).

This week another, related news was published - namely, on the wide fluctuations in cost of higher education and support for students in Europe. Apparently, while some Member States manage to upheld cost free higher education for students (and even grant some additional support, e.g., Austria or Scotland), other Member States ask students to pay more than 11000 euro per academic year (e.g. England/Wales/Northern Ireland). You may read the full report, prepared by the Eurydice network, here. European students are expected to compare the available data and shop around Europe (and not only in their home country) for the best, most suiting them (also taking into account costs and fees) higher education, just like they would do with any other consumer product or service.

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