EU progress in education but targets have not been achieved yet

European Commission's annual progress report on education and training reveals that EU countries have improved their education systems in key areas over the past decade but they have achieved only one out of five benchmarks set for 2010.

The five education benchmarks to be attained by 2020 are the following:

  • The share of early leavers from education and training should be less than 10.
  • At least 40% of 30-34 year old should have tertiary educational attainment.
  • at least 95% of children between the age of four and the age for starting compulsory primary education should participate in early childhood education.
  • The share of 15-years old with insufficient abilities in reading, mathematics and science should be less than 15%.
  • An average of at least 15% of adults should participate in lifelong learning.

In this annual progress report made by the European Commission, it confirms the positive results so far such as that the EU has succeeded in its target to increase the number of maths, science and technology graduates, with a 37% rise since 2000, easily outstripping the target of 15%. According to the Europe 2020 jobs and growth strategy retains the target of reducing the school drop-out rate to under 10%, as well as increasing the share of graduates to at least 40%.

On the other hand, the Commission states in the report that  it is too early for precise projections. However, past trends suggest that most of the benchmarks for 2020 should be attainable if Member States continue to give them high priority and invest efficiently in education and training. The report also shows that there are still important gender gaps, both in performance and in choice of subjects. For instance, girls outperform boys in reading, and boys account for most early school leavers. Men outnumber women among graduates in maths, science and technology subjects.

Member States will submit soon their national reform programmes to the Commission, in which they will set national targets on early school leaving and higher education graduates, spelling out how they want to achieve their goals. The Commission will present proposed new benchmarks on employability and learning mobility.