Texte en français


Investing in "competencies" for All 

(Paris, 2-4 April 2001)

In 1996, OECD Ministers for Education adopted the common goal of lifelong learning for all. Five years later, in April 2001, they have met again to review progress since 1996 in developing and implementing policies to make lifelong learning a reality for all and to set new priorities for further work. 

A review of developments in Member countries since then shows that some progress has been made in specific sectors. However, implementation of the goal still leaves a lot to be desired: the evidence shows that lifelong learning is far from being a reality for many citizens. Against this background the discussion by Ministers focused on three interrelated themes considered to be the areas where policy action is most critical, namely: 
- how to secure the benefits of lifelong learning for all; 
- how best to foster competencies for the knowledge society; and, 
- how to manage teaching and learning to promote learning throughout life.

The discussion was preceded by a consultation with the Business and Industry Advisory Committee and the Trade Union Advisory Committee and a Forum on Information and Communication Technology and Education. 

Ministers gave particular attention to the need to manage and facilitate investment in competencies for all - competencies understood to cover knowledge, skills, attitudes and values on which other learning depends, and the high-level intellectual and social competencies on which full engagement in the knowledge society depends. They considered the goal to foster the acquisition of these competencies as key. However, it was clearly expressed that they could not achieve it alone. Thus, they expressed their will to work closely with others, for example government colleagues, non-government organisations, trade unions, employers and others in the private sector to ensure greater co-ordination among education, social, economic and other policies. 

The need to collaborate more effectively was also underlined with regard to reform teaching and learning. Ministers invited the OECD to explore how governments, educational institutions, local communities and others could collaborate more effectively in the creation, sharing and use of knowledge and in innovation to improve professional practice in teaching and management. 

During the consultation with Ministers, TUAC delegates emphasised that trade unions are prepared to contribute to and to support innovation in teaching and learning. They brought to the mind of Ministers that unions representing the providers of education and training - the education unions - are engaged in major debates about the impact of change, of new technologies, of increasing international trade in education services. They made clear that partnership with the main actors, and especially with the teachers and their unions is key to progress. The head of the TUAC delegation, Bob Harris (ACTU), urged Ministers to signal, in particular through the communiqué of the meeting, their readiness to collaborate also with teachers and their unions in order to improve the practice of teaching and learning as well as the management of educational institutions. In this regard, the TUAC submission to the meeting called upon Education Ministers to design policies in order to ensure that schools are equipped appropriately and teachers are trained to prepare learners for the knowledge-based economy. 

The submission of BIAC as well as the statements of their delegates during the consultation focused mainly on issues related to "employability". Particular attention was given to a "serious skill shortage" due to the new demands of the current innovation-based business transformation. In order to overcome this shortage, BIAC drew particular attention to “life-wide” learning, which means that schools or formal training are no longer the only places or ways to learn. Thus, new methods of acquiring skills, such as web-based learning, school education or initial education delivered at home by cable TV, specialised company-courses, distance learning with support of multimedia are being perceived by BIAC as pre-cursors of an increasing importance of informal learning. Moreover, BIAC delegates pointed out that companies need employees with good generic skills, including the ability to organise, to work in teams and to communicate effectively. Accordingly, project work, self-activating learning and effective use of information resources should be added to the toolbox of learning. With regard to the transition towards a knowledge-based economy, BIAC emphasised that ICT skills need to be given increasing weight in today's curricula, while other basic skills, such as literacy and numeracy, must remain within the foundation of the education system. 

In providing a broader perspective, the TUAC statement presented to Ministers called for policies to:

  •  increase the level of investment in human resources and to ensure that financial resources for lifelong learning are used more effectively; 
  • strengthen equal opportunities by closing gender gaps in education, training and employment; 
  • ensure that financing lifelong learning remains the major responsibility of governments and employers;
  • maintain and strengthen the role of public educational institutions at all levels and encourage all educational institutions to promote democracy, good governance, participatory development and human rights; 
  • keep lifelong learning high on the agenda and ensure that education and training go beyond a purely economic rationale; 
  • contribute to the realisation of a socially inclusive, high-skill and high-value-adding economy by co-operating with other government actors as well as with employers and unions; 
  • contribute to the expansion of workplace training of all workers, in particular of women and adult workers; 
  • foster agreements between employers and trade unions that make participation in lifelong learning feasible in practice; 
  • support policies aimed at bridging the digital divide by addressing IT-illiteracy, ensuring affordable access and promoting the provision of content where appropriate; 
  • strengthen the links between education and training systems, working life and society at local, national and international levels 
  • ensure that public policy goals for education are not undermined by commercialisation or international trade in educational services; 

According to the communiqué, Ministers discussed a number of these proposals during their meeting. This applies in particular to the need to strengthen human and social capital as well as social cohesion within our societies. Ministers invited the OECD to explore further the relationships between human and social capital and their contributions to human well-being, sustainable development and economic growth. Moreover, they urged the OECD to review how the capacity of education and training systems can be increased to include all learners and to achieve equitable outcomes for all, while meeting the increasing diversity of learners’ needs, maintaining cultural diversity and improving quality. Several references were made to the role of unions in this process. 

Ministers also discussed need the to change some of the objectives of education and training due to new technologies and changing skill requirements in the workplace. They invited the OECD to clarify the competencies individuals need in the knowledge society and investigate strategies for enhancing their development and recognising their acquisition and to identify and evaluate innovative policy options for financing lifelong learning. 

In setting new priorities for further work Ministers agreed upon a future agenda for research and analytical work to be conducted by the OECD. However, the conclusions were short of clear commitments on action and finance to back up their proposals. It is essential that the OECD engage in follow-up involving BIAC and TUAC to manage change through partnership. 

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Capturé par MemoWeb à partir de http://www.tuac.org/news/nevmined2001.htm  le 25/03/02
Capturé par MemoWeb à partir de http://www.tuac.org/news/nevmined2001.htm  le 25/03/02