23 SES 13 C, Education Policies Concerning Early School Leaving in European Countries: A Considerable Degree of Convergence? (Part 1)
Symposium: to be continued in 23 SES 14 C
This symposium discusses the development and implementation of education policies and political instruments dealing with early school leaving in the aftermath of the Lisbon Strategy (2000) in 7 European Union member states (Belgium, United Kingdom, Portugal, Poland, Spain, Hungary, Austria). It builds on the project Reducing Early School Leaving in the EU (RESL.eu, financed by EU, 2013-2018), involving 9 European countries.
The convergence aimed at by the Lisbon Agenda (2000) has enhanced the European agenda in education. The coordination structures and processes are providing an educational and political grammar actually framing education reforms within the national contexts. The coordination mode is largely based on “the capacity of the EU to initiate and influence national discourses about educational issues” (Balzer and Martens, 2004: 7). This is about ‘thematic’ governance involving not only the content but also the means that provide materiality to the models and concepts to be disseminated. The grammar (Magalhães et al. 2013) of the legitimating discourses of the reforms shows a considerable degree of convergence, if not around a specific narrative at least in the concepts and jargon that both nationally and internationally are used to ‘talk’ about education. However, when comparing education policies across European countries, it becomes evident that their pace of implementation and their very nature (i.e. economic, social, educational) are diverse and far from converging.
This perspective might shed some light over the agenda setting at the European and national levels, as Ferlie and Andresani recognise: “few studies carefully reconstruct how such policies arrive on the agenda, the political entrepreneurs and the interest groups involved, the way the problems are defined and constructed, how solutions are developed and the narratives attached to them” (Ferlie, Musselin and Andresani 2009: 6). The role of the state concerning the definition, steering and implementation of policies and public action comes hand in hand with the increasing intervention of other entities and actors, reporting to different governing bodies located at different levels and thus interfering with policy-making processes (Barroso 2006).
The aim of the project is to formulate conceptual and methodological perspectives and models concerning the development and implementation of policies and specific measures to deal with ESL. The project’s main assumptions are that education and training are i) vital assets for the welfare of European citizens; ii) important tools in promoting equity, social cohesion and active citizenship, on the one hand; and in stimulating economic growth and the creation of new skills, competencies, on the other hand. Within the global social and economic dynamics, it is necessary to consider that ESL affects diverse groups of disadvantaged population in different countries and many young adults have possibly lesser possibilities to succeed in their education, training and labour insertion. How are the different countries dealing with this situation? This is the question to be addressed.
Building on a wider view of how the problem of ESL is shaped within the EU in the 9 member states participating in the project, the symposium brings to the fore the policy drivers underpinning policy making induced by the European level and intends to provide an understanding about the national similarities and specificities of the policies at stake. The presentations focus on the interaction between EU agenda the national agendas dealing with ESL, identifying the workings of rescaling processes (Dale, 2007) and the renationalisation processes. They draw on content analysis of EU and national relevant documents, and interviews and focus group discussion with national and local stakeholders.
This research is funded from EC 7th Progr RESL.eu.
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