Recommendation on the reform of the ISCED qualifications (10/28/2010)

UNESCO has prepared a proposal for a reform of the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED). This classification wants to make curricula internationally comparable. Minister Pascal Smet asked the Vlor for advice in preparation of a Flemish reaction to the UNESCO proposal.

The importance of ISCED Thanks to the classification all Flemish qualifications have to be correctly graded. Once it is approved, the implementation freedom of Member States will be limited. A classification problem can limit training programmes in their international relations and cooperation opportunities and can reduce the internal dynamics of a programme – whilst the aim is to make a significant contribution to the knowledge economy. Courses that do not get graded, will disappear from ISCED statistics.

Comments on the new proposal The Vlor welcomes the proposed changes to the ISCED 1997. The new proposal is more transparent and takes more into account the current educational reality. The extension of the levels, the modification of some grading criteria, the integration of non-formal learning and a clear definition of 'educational attainment’ are positive. However, the Vlor has some general comments. The definition of non-formal learning does not seem applicable to DKO (part time arts education). ISCED stills uses criteria such as "duration" and "age", which is unfortunate: it shows an outdated educational approach that ignores the reality of lifelong learning. Courses of longer duration do not necessarily lead to other outcomes. The Vlor agrees that the ISCED itself should not advance an opinion on the skills and profiles of teachers and lecturers. Besides these general comments, the council also lists some specific comments about specific classification levels.

Implementation ISCED 2011 UNESCO has no view on the quality of the implementation of the ISCED classification in the different Member States. The Vlor proposes to work more and better on international comparisons, for example through 'peer learning' activities. The Vlor wants to be involved in the implementation in Flanders. In the past, the Vlor mentioned problems with the Flemish grading of some courses (eg professional bachelor courses). It therefore demands a transparent procedure and consultation with the field.