The Comenius programme focuses on the first phase of education, from pre-school and primary to secondary schools. It is relevant for all members of the education community: pupils, teachers, local authorities, parents’ associations, non-government organisations, teacher training, institutes, universities and all other educational staff. Part of the Lifelong Learning Programme, Comenius seeks to develop knowledge and understanding among young people and educational staff of the diversity of European cultures, languages and values. It helps young people acquire the basic life skills and competences necessary for their personal development, for future employment and for active citizenship.
The programme addresses issues strongly related to the current discussions and developments in school policy. Priorities are set annually.
Comenius has the following goals:
The Comenius programme focuses on the following priority areas:
School education: Equipping a new generation.
The European Commission helps EU Member States to work together to develop their school education systems. The majority of Europeans spend at least nine or ten years at school. It is where they gain the basic knowledge, skills and competences that they need throughout their lives and the place where many of their fundamental attitudes and values develop.
Schools need to set people on the path to a lifetime of learning, if they are to prepare them adequately for the modern world. A sound school education system also helps ensure open and democratic societies by training people in citizenship, solidarity and participative democracy.
Education ministers from EU Member States have set themselves 13 specific areas for improvement in national systems, including the education and training of teachers, key competences, language learning, ICT, math, science and technology, active citizenship and social cohesion.
Challenges in these areas are considerable. One quarter of young people under the age of 15 only attain the lowest level of proficiency in reading; 15% of young people aged 18-24 leave school prematurely; only 78% of 22-year-olds have completed their upper secondary education; the level of interest in some subjects, such as science and mathematics, is low.
Member States are responsible for the organization and content of education and training systems. However, the challenges facing school systems are similar across the EU, so there are advantages in working together.
The role of the European Commission is to support national efforts. It does this in two main ways:
Through the Comenius Programme, it invests millions of euros each year in projects that promote school exchanges, school development, the education of school staff, school assistantships and more;
The Commission also works closely with policy-makers from Member States to help them develop their school education policies and systems. It does this by gathering and sharing information and analysis and by encouraging the exchange of good policy practice.