The European education policy and its effects on the education policy in Flanders (20 May 2003)

With this advice on its own initiative, the Vlor draws once again the attention of the education field on the growing influence of the European objectives on the education policy in Flanders and wants to stimulate the debate on this issue.

Firstly, the advice describes the major themes of the European education policy since the declaration of Lisbon in March 2000. The European Union uses the open method of co-ordination to realise a number of objectives in education. Moreover, other policy areas (Employment, Economics, Innovation, etc.) have high expectations towards education and training.

Thereafter the Flemish Education Council formulates four concerns:

  • The Vlor remarks on the utilitarian approach of education. The mission of education is much broader than stimulating economic development in competition with the US and Japan. Moreover, this approach neglects the ‘corporate culture’ in education. Top-down innovations can only succeed if they join in with the internal logic of education.
  • The policy instruments, which the Commission promotes, don’t reckon with the complex educational context. With benchmarks and indicators you can demonstrate quantitative results. But there is a risk that they pass over qualitative and social elements and that they neglect the diversity in education.
  • The democratic quality of the decision making doesn’t exist on European and Flemish level. There is no consultation of the education world on the objectives and the ways to realise them. Moreover, in Belgium there is an ineffective division of competence between the federal level and the communities.
  • The whole timing of the process seems to be unrealistic. It is impossible to implement profoundly such a broad change in all European schools within 6 years. It is an illusion that this process will already be fruitful in 2010.

Therefore, the Vlor suggests implementing representatives of the education world in the open method of coordination and designing a legal framework for this type of decision-making. The council also calls for an open debate in Flanders on the European education policy and its decision-making process. In the meantime, the Vlor is working on advices which examine more profoundly the substantive aspects of the European education policy and their effects on education in Flanders.