How To Govern Education And Training Systems?

How can good multilevel governance contribute to the performance of education and training systems and policies? This is the question that delegates from 30 countries neighbouring the EU and the representatives of international organisation tried to answer during an ETF conference on multilevel governance in vocational education and training in Brussels on 31 May and 1 June 2012.

Governance is about interaction among institutions, processes, traditions that collectively determine how power is exercised, how decisions are taken and how much stakeholders, including citizens, have say in it.

According to the ETF, the multilevel systems, which create vertical channels between higher and lower levels of government, and horizontal interaction between authorities and social partners and civil society, are particularly successful. They work better because they involve everyone with a stake in education and training.

In the message sent to the participants, Androulla Vassiliou, EU Commissioner for Education and Training, stressed the fact that both the EU and the partner countries face similar challenges. In responding to these challenges the policy approaches have to change.

‘One of the key issues in the debate on modernisation of education and training is the relevance of learning outcomes for learners themselves, to enterprises, for the economy and finally society at large,’

Mercedes Bresso, the President of the Committee of the Regions, and Danuta Huebner, Member of the European Parliament and the former EU Commissioner for Regional Development, highlighted the regional dimension of education. They underscored the importance of involving all relevant actors–regional and local–in the governance of education and training.

Madlen Serban, the ETF’s director, explained why the ETF engaged in this new field. ‘In the Torino Process and at its concluding conference in 2011, the partner countries and ETF identified governance as part of solution to the problems of vocational education and training,’ said Ms Serban. ‘We said that the governance must be anticipatory, inclusive and good.’

The conference was organised in cooperation with the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee.

Paul Champion

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