Article excerpt

With the end of the school year fast approaching, the European Commission has published its own report on the 25 member states' education and training systems. Its final assessment is that standard remark of "some progress but could do better".

The European Commission's annual report on education and training sets out a very mixed picture. "In spite of positive trends in certain areas, the overall progress of Europe's education and training systems towards the goals set in the Lisbon Strategy is insufficient." The positives include the member states' success in boosting the number of science graduates. Progress has by contrast been only moderate in raising participation in lifelong learning and in reducing the number of early school leavers. Progress has so far been made in expanding the share of young people who finish upper-secondary school, and reducing the number of 15-year-olds with poor reading skills.


1. Early school leavers. In the EU, about 6 million young people (18 to 24-years olds) have left education prematurely (2005 data). In order to hit the European target of no more than 10% early school leavers, two million of these young people would need to continue in education. The best-performing EU countries as regards the share of early school leavers are Poland (5.5%), Slovakia (5.8%) and the Czech Republic (6.4%).

2. Science graduates. If present trends continue, some 1 million students will graduate in maths, science and technology (MST) every year in the EU in 2010, compared to the present level of 755,000 graduates. The best-performing countries in terms of MST graduates per 1,000 of the population aged 20-29 are: Ireland (24.2), France (22.2), and the United Kingdom (21.0).

3. Secondary education. In order to achieve the EU benchmark of an 85% upper-secondary school completion rate by 2010, an additional 2 million young people (aged 20-24 years) would need to complete upper-secondary education. The best-performing EU countries are: Slovakia (91. …