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Good governance and enhanced quality in education

Resolution 2013 (2014)

Parliamentary Assembly
Assembly debate on 30 September 2014 (31st Sitting) (see Doc. 13585, report of the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, rapporteur: Mr Paolo Corsini). Text adopted by the Assembly on 30 September 2014 (31st Sitting).See also Recommendation 2054 (2014).
1. The member States of the Council of Europe are confronted with important challenges: the economic crisis, massive unemployment, rising tensions and hostility against minority and migrant communities. The Parliamentary Assembly considers that the quality of education is critical in determining our societies’ capacity to thrive, and that enhanced European education systems are a fundamental tool to deal effectively with today’s crucial societal challenges.
2. Public authorities are responsible for securing the right to education of adequate quality. The budgetary restrictions resulting from the financial crisis have considerably limited States’ margin for action. It is vital that we invest in education, but such investment must be made on the basis of global strategies for improving the governance and quality of the general educational framework and a thorough assessment of the functioning of education systems.
3. Education systems should be inclusive and quality education should be provided without discrimination. This is a crucial objective for primary and secondary schools, but it must also be pursued in the context of university education. This means not only that the right of access to the education system must be guaranteed, but also that the system must take account of the diversity of learners’ educational and social needs to foster the acquisition of the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for life in society.
4. Moreover, it is not enough to aim at improving people’s capacity to take up professions of their choice: it is indispensable that education helps their personal development and prepares them for responsible and active citizenship. Schools must become places where priority is given to teaching young people to live in harmony in an environment which respects freedom of thought and conscience, encourages learners to open up to others and develop a critical mind and rewards effort and merit while providing those in difficulty with the support they need.
5. The Assembly therefore recommends that the member States:
5.1 put in place coherent education policies focusing on students’ well-being and achievement, preventing social exclusion, the need to improve teachers’ professional abilities and the effectiveness of the education system as a whole, as well as ensuring a better contribution of schools to socio-economic progress;
5.2 involve all stakeholders in framing and implementing such policies so as to improve communication and synergies;
5.3 establish mechanisms for assessment and quality assurance so as to monitor the quality of the education system and the coherence of educational achievements with needs in terms of professional qualifications and democratic citizenship, and the effective and efficient use of resources;
5.4 ensure non-discrimination in access to education and take positive steps to counter educational inequalities and the underperformance of certain pupils or students and of certain educational establishments by means of support programmes for the pupils and students who are most frequently victims of discrimination or exclusion, and incentives to attract talented teachers to take up employment in the most difficult classes and schools, and act to prevent any kind of compulsory separation on the basis of ethnic origin between pupils or students in classes or in schools;
5.5 promote gender equality in and through education; in this respect:
5.5.1 guarantee to all students the freedom to choose their field of studies;
5.5.2 identify and spread good practice in gender-sensitive education;
5.5.3 revise teaching curricula and methods with a view to reinforcing non-discriminatory language and non-sexist teaching while placing greater emphasis on equality and non-violence;
5.5.4 meet the needs of young parents, and in particular young women engaged in higher education and research, in terms of family support and childcare;
5.5.5 seek more gender balance in teaching and managerial positions at all levels of education;
5.6 promote the comprehensive approach to education in the European humanistic tradition, which is key to strengthening democratic citizenship, upholding the respect of human rights and promoting solidarity and social cohesion;
5.7 reconsider initial and in-service training programmes for teachers, as well as teaching methods, in particular to take account of new challenges which result from interculturalism, the information society and the pace of innovation in science and technology;
5.8 seek to make the teaching profession more attractive; in this respect, consider increasing teachers’ salaries and offer incentives for high-achieving students to enter and stay in the profession;
5.9 make better use of the possibilities offered by the Internet to modernise the management of educational establishments and to develop innovatory teaching methods and tools that are more suited to the diversity of learners, and promote the acquisition of digital and media skills;
5.10 enhance accountability and transparency in education governance to fight corruption; to this end, develop robust auditing, monitoring and compliance mechanisms, and reinforce parliamentary control over anti-corruption policy implementation;
5.11 develop codes of conduct in schools and higher education institutions with the participation of all relevant stakeholders, and develop and evaluate the civic competences of pupils and students by fostering their sense of responsibility, co-operation skills and involvement in civic life;
5.12 make education management less bureaucratic, seeking to reduce the time that teachers and university lecturers spend dealing with purely administrative matters;
5.13 ensure families’ access to complete and clear information about available educational programmes, and the transparency of the performance of education institutions;
5.14 in education policy formulation, take into account the assessment of learning outcomes by international quality assurance programmes;
5.15 support co-operation on quality assurance, in particular in higher education, with a view to achieving the aims of the Bologna Process and the consolidation of the European Higher Education Area;
5.16 look for co-operation and synergies, aimed at increasing the competitiveness of European education at global level, making full use of the Council of Europe’s longstanding expertise in this field;
5.17 encourage co-operation between the Council of Europe and active partners in this field, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievements (IEA), the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and the networks of national quality assurance agencies.