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European Education Area

Quality education and training for all

Improving quality and equity - initiatives

All citizens in the European Union have the right to high-quality and inclusive education, training and lifelong learning, as established by the European Pillar of Social Rights.

Why are quality and equity important?

The importance of equity

Inclusive and high-quality education and training and the promotion of a European dimension to teaching fostering common values are paramount for creating and maintaining a cohesive European society driving sustainable growth. 

However, across Europe individuals’ educational experiences follow social patterns. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds disproportionally underachieve. Those living in rural areas often fall behind. 

Sexism and sexual harassment continue to hamper educational experiences, in particular for women and girls. There is also a persistent gender gap in fields of study, such as engineering, manufacturing and construction – with only 26% female students – and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) – with just 18% female students (International Computer and Information Literacy Study, 2018). 

We must act to tackle inequalities from early years and to decouple social, economic, and cultural status, ethnic and racial background from educational attainment and achievement. 

The importance of quality

High-quality education and training will provide citizens with the knowledge, skills and attitudes they need to thrive and to ensure Europe’s economic resilience and social prosperity. This includes the need to master key competences, including basic skills and digital competences.

The importance of ensuring effective equal access to high-quality education has become ever-more apparent with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Further efforts must be made to improve the EU average achievement rate for 15 year-olds in basic skills. In 2018, the proportion of pupils who failed to complete basic mathematics, science and reading tasks stood at 22.5% for reading, 22.9% in mathematics and 22.3% in science (PISA 2018, OECD). 

This change is possible with highly qualified educators and policy reforms. Improving learning outcomes, giving learners what they need to succeed and ensuring quality teaching requires effective, efficient and sustainable investment in education and training. 

What is the EU doing?

The European Commission is addressing these issues through the following actions

  • Pathways to school success initiative
  • promoting multilingualism and common values
  • ensuring quality investment in education and training
  • strengthening the Jean Monnet Actions
  • developing a European approach to micro-credentials
  • making the Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps programmes more inclusive
  • promoting the mobility of young volunteers in cross-border solidarity activities
  • implementing the European quality framework for high- quality early childhood education and care systems
  • supporting the establishment of centres for vocational excellence 

EEA strategic framework

A working group on equality and values in education and training has been established to contribute to promoting equality and inclusion in the European Education Area. The group will encourage mutual learning and the exchange of information and best practices between Member States, the Commission and stakeholders.

An expert group on quality investment in education and training is supporting the process further by carrying out an in-depth analysis of existing evidence. It will create a guidance document to help EU Member States improve the efficiency of spending to boost education outcomes and inclusiveness.