With overwhelming youth unemployment figures in Europe, the rationale for policy learning rises. The Eurydice Network provides the comparative analyses (for example on teachers’ salaries) that helps national policy makers to pick the winning policies.
In their latest report, Eurydice points out which EU countries need to devise a more strategic approach in order to develop key competences in their nation’s students.
The concept of ‘key competences’ has gained prominence in European education systems. What remains difficult is the status of so-called transversal competences (digital, civic and entrepreneurship) as compared to the traditional subject-based competences. Another challenge is: how to encourage more young people to pursue higher-level studies and careers in mathematics, science and technology.
Decrease in share of MST graduates
“In the European Union, on average, the proportion of graduates in mathematics, science and technology (MST) fields, as compared to the total number of graduates, has declined from 24.4 % in 2001 to 21.4 % in 2010. Compared to 2001, the majority of countries have experienced a decrease in the share of MST graduates”, the report states.
Young people’s interest in mathematics and science is a strong determinant of career choice in MST-related fields. Detailed analysis of centrally supported initiatives to improve motivation in learning mathematics and science reveals that actions rarely cover all levels of school education, from primary to upper secondary, and do not always include a wide range of activities.
Finland and Austria at the forefront
“Currently such broad and comprehensive initiatives for mathematics and science exist only in Austria and Finland, where they also incorporate activities in pre-primary education”, continues the report.
“While there is a sound rationale for developing comprehensive MST strategies, the overall effect could be increased if mathematics-specific initiatives are scaled-up to incorporate activities from an early age and take into account the particular motivational challenges that concern this subject area. These challenges include addressing the perceptions that mathematics is difficult, abstract and not relevant to real life, and preventing the development of negative attitudes and anxiety.”