“L’école de la vie”

'Mind the Gap - education inequality across EU regions' report pg. 82.

‘Mind the Gap – education inequality across EU regions’ report pg. 82.

The results of the first OECD Survey of Adult Skills just confirmed a trivial fact: the more and the longer you invest in education, the better trained your population is.

Italy, Spain, France and Ireland occupy the lowest ranking positions of the survey in reading and basic numeracy. Is that surprising?

A year ago, the European Commission published a report entitled Mind the Gap — education inequality across EU regions. One map – page 82 – showed that the countries that have most suffered from the financial crisis – Italy, Spain, France and Ireland — are also the ones with the lowest percentage of adults with upper secondary education.

While Europe wants to be at the forefront of the “open education revolution”, it is worth remembering that education is both a process and a continuum, and trends can’t be changed overnight.

For years, lifelong learning was seen as “l’école de la vie”, what you learn from life once you are out of school. The latest OECD survey reveals that “l’école de la vie” can’t teach much if early education is not a priority. Korea, for instance, is an example of this generational divide. (source: OECD Survey of Adult Skills)

In this context, the priority given to digital learning will first have to cope with the scope of the “digital divide” and these millions of European adults that are failing to master the simplest computer skills. The generational dimension of the new open education context must be well understood, and results only expected in the mid and long term.

The success of the European open education initiative will depend on the consistency of our educative policies over time.

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