The policy demand for the monitoring and evaluation of national education systems is increasing on an international level. The Centre for Research on Lifelong Learning (CRELL) based on indicators and benchmarks, located at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Ispra, northern Italy, was established in this context and in response to the need to underpin monitoring instruments with sound scientific research.
The European Commission monitors progress towards the Community goals in the area of education and training using a framework of indicators and benchmarks, reported annually in the report on the Progress towards the Lisbon Objectives in Education and Training- Indicators and Benchmarks (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009).
The set of indicators currently employed is less than fully developed. As stated in the Joint Interim Report “Education & Training 2010«:
“The work carried out to date has pinpointed the key areas for which there is a lack of relevant and comparable data for monitoring progress in relation to the objectives set. The quality and comparability of the existing indicators need to be improved, particularly in the field of lifelong learning, and regularly reviewed. Priorities should be established for the development of a restricted number of new indicators, taking due account of the work carried out by other bodies active in this area. […] The following areas should come in for particular attention: key competences, and particularly learning to learn; investment efficiency; ICT; mobility; and adult education and vocational education and training.»
The Council Conclusions of May 2009 on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training «ET2020» further emphasize the need for periodic monitoring of progress towards a set objective as an essential contribution towards evidence-based policy making. The strategic objectives defined in the «ET2020» strategy are accompanied during the period 2010-2020 by indicators and by reference levels for European average performance (‘European benchmarks’) and work on proposals for possible benchmarks in the areas of mobility, employability and language learning is requested.
Various strategies are underway to address these needs, among them the establishment of CRELL. The European Council Conclusions of 24 May 2005 on new indicators in education and training recognised that it was necessary to develop a coherent framework of indicators and benchmarks to monitor performance and progress, and stated that «the establishment of the research unit on lifelong learning at the Joint Research Centre at Ispra can significantly increase the Commission’s research capacity in terms of the development of new indicators.» CRELL is involved in actively supporting the European Commission by providing scientific expertise and research in order to underpin the policy dossiers of DG Education and Culture.
Clickhere for more information on the Strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training «ET2020.»