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FAQ: Improving Competences for the 21st Century: An Agenda for European Cooperation on Schools

In its communication entitled "Improving Competences for the 21st Century", the Commission encourages member states to cooperate in making school systems more effective.

This document, adopted on Wednesday 3rd July, is part of the series of measures presented by Commission President Jos Manuel Barroso to strengthen access, opportunities and solidarity for all citizens of the European Union.

Stressing the absolute need to give young people new and fuller skills to prepare them for the challenges of the 21st century, the Commission recognises that progress made on the basis of reference criteria are disappointing.

The Commission proposes an agenda for cooperation in three areas:

  1. a focus on giving all pupils the competences they need for life. This includes: increasing levels of reading literacy and numeracy, reinforcing learning-to-learn skills, and modernising curricula and learning materials;
  2. a commitment to provide high quality learning for every student. This includes: generalising pre-school education, improving equity in school systems, reducing early school leaving, and improving support within mainstream schooling for students with special needs; and
  3. improving the quality of teachers and school staff. This includes more and higher quality teacher education, more effective teacher recruitment, and help for school leaders to focus on improving learning.

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