NICOSIA -- Investing in education in times of crisis will have a positive impact and help build a better Europe, Cyprus Minister of Education and Culture Giorgos Demosthenous noted on Friday, following the conclusion of the Informal Council of EU Ministers of Education, in Nicosia.
European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou said from her part that education lies in the centre of EU policies, aiming at boosting employment and growth.
The two-day Informal Council, held on October 4 and 5 in the framework of the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the EU, focused on the contribution of education in the economic development of member states and the welfare of European citizens, as well as on the problem of illiteracy.
During the two-day session Cypriot Nobel laureate, Professor Christopher Pissarides and Professor Georgios Tsiakalos, member of the High Level Group of Experts on Literacy presented their views to the Council’s participants.
Speaking to the Press after the Council’s conclusion, Demosthenous said that investing in education should remain a key priority.
Outlining the main points in Pissarides’ intervention during yesterday’s session, the Minister noted in particular his reference on the contribution of education in alleviating the repercussions of the financial crisis, while adding that improving its quality should remain a prime objective.
Commissioner Vassiliou referred from her part to the EU’s two main objectives, including the reduction of early school leavers and the increase in the number of higher education graduates.
She noted that 30% of jobs that will be created by 2020 will demand higher skills, asking therefore for higher education graduates.
On the problem of illiteracy, which also concerned the work of the Informal Council, both the Cypriot Minister and the European Commissioner noted its negative impact on society.
Demosthenous said that both the member states and the European Commission will work together in order to decrease illiteracy quotas in Europe, while Vassiliou said that a coordinated action at European level and between member states was necessary, in order to promote best practices in tackling the problem.
The European Commissioner said data on illiterate adults were shocking, since the problem affect around 75 mln people and noted that “we must help these people” move on.
Asked on best practices in investments in education during the crisis, the Cypriot Education Minister brought forward the example of Cyprus which advances its own education reform.
“Such investments should not be targeted in times of crisis” if you want to expect short-term and long-term results, Demosthenous added.
Both Demosthenous and Vassiliou also referred to the importance of mobility in education and the Erasmus program, in advancing the quality of education offered in Europe.
The Minister added that he expected Cyprus to benefit from the anticipated increase in the program’s funding.
On another question about lifelong learning in Cyprus, Demosthenous said he expected demand to go up in the next few years.
The Commissioner said from her part that Cyprus’ record remains low in comparison to the target set, foreseeing a participation of 15% of adults in lifelong learning programs, but said that the problem was also widespread elsewhere. (CNA)