Doc. 10702

4 October 2005

The OECD and the world economy


Committee on Culture, Science and Education

Rapporteur: Mrs Antigoni Pericleous Papadopoulos, Cyprus, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe

1. The Committee on Culture, Science and Education congratulates the Rapporteur, Mr Vrettos, for his thorough report and expresses its support for the draft Resolution on the OECD and the world economy presented by the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development.

2. In view of the importance of education, scientific research and other factors on the world economy, and after having held an exchange of views with Mr Bernard Hugonnier, Deputy Director for Education of the OECD, the Committee adopted the following amendment and suggests its inclusion into the Resolution:

Add three new paragraphs after paragraph 11 of the draft Resolution:

“The Enlarged Assembly notes the growing impact of such factors as education, scientific research, social cohesion, good governance and democratic stability on the economic performance of individual states and the world economy as a whole, and recommends that OECD member states pay closer attention to such factors. In this respect, it welcomes the multilateral work achieved and standards set in those areas by the OECD and the Council of Europe, and calls on these organisations to intensify their co-operation and coordination in this respect.

The Enlarged Assembly invites the OECD to carry out a comparative performance report in OECD member countries examining the role of higher education and research for developing students to their full potential, for example in meeting an increasing diversity of needs and demands associated with the knowledge society, lifelong learning, globalisation, national and regional economies, local communities, as well as social cohesion and equity.

The Enlarged Assembly calls on the OECD and the Council of Europe to coordinate their action on mutually identified priority areas in the field of education policy.”

Explanatory memorandum

3. The world economy depends on a number of factors, of which the human factor is of major importance. It is a contributing factor to the economic performance of states, but also an end in itself if we look at the notion of quality of life.

4. The importance of the human factor becomes especially apparent where it is lacking: societies with a low level of education and research perform poorly at global level. States with a low social cohesion have fragmented or at least divided societies which suffer from social tensions and lack stability. In Europe as well as in other parts of the world, we can unfortunately find examples where social tensions, for instance in the form of ethnic tensions, paralyse the economic progress of states. The same effect is caused by a lack of good governance: inefficient administration, non-functioning justice system, corruption and organised crime are prime examples in this regard. Compared to democratic states, non-democratically governed states are more likely to suffer from political tensions as well as instability, inefficiency and corruption of the ruling structures. The price of such negative phenomena is a held back economy in addition to the negative societal and individual consequences.

5. The education ministers of the OECD countries focused at their meeting in Dublin in March 2004 on raising the quality and equity of their national education systems in view of the challenges posed by rapid economic and social changes. Much has been done in developing standardised performance indicators and thus collecting and analysing data on student and teacher performance. The OECD has 30 member states2 from Europe, America, Asia and Australia, nearly all of which are also Council of Europe member states or observers.

6. The defined goal of the OECD’s education work is to assist countries in achieving high quality lifelong learning for all as a contribution to personal development, sustainable economic growth and social cohesion. This work is structured along six strategic objectives: (1) promoting lifelong learning and improving its linkages with other socio-economic policies, (2) evaluating and improving outcomes of education, (3) promoting quality teaching, (4) rethinking tertiary education in a global economy, (5) building social cohesion through education and (6) building new futures for education.

7. The Council of Europe has been servicing the Standing Conference of European Ministers of Education since 1959. Since 1999, the Council of Europe held also Informal Conferences of Ministers of Education of South-East Europe as well as regional conferences in the South Caucasus. The Standing Conference is the sole pan-European intergovernmental forum which pursues an overview role in the field of education policies and thus defines common lines of action for Europe as a whole. At its last session in Athens in 2003, the Standing Conference adopted policy guidelines on intercultural education in the new European context as well as on the integration of information and communications technologies in educational systems. The OECD participated in the Athens session of the Standing Conference along Unesco and the European Union.

8. The Third Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe member and observer states (Warsaw, 16-17 May 2005) endorsed the work of the Council of Europe in the education field. In particular, the adopted Action Plan instructs the Council of Europe to increase its efforts in this field in order to ensure access to education for all young people across Europe and to enhance all opportunities for the training of educators in democratic citizenship, human rights, history and intercultural education. The Council of Europe shall also continue to play an important role in the Bologna process aimed at creating a European Higher Education Area by 2010.

9. Through inter-ministerial work as well as inter-governmental co-operation and assistance activities, policy guidelines are developed in fields were the OECD is also active. Some work of the OECD relates to several sectors of work of the Council of Europe. Compatibility and coordination of such work is thus essential to achieving a coherent approach to education policies in Europe.

10. In concrete terms, both organisations are for instance working on such themes as the social outcomes of learning as regards health, civic engagement, social exclusion and family functioning; life-long learning; cross-border tertiary education including international recognition of qualifications; work on students with special needs; ethnic and cultural diversity in education as a means of combating prejudice and school violence and facilitating integration; e-learning in tertiary education.

11. The question remains whether a clear difference can in fact be drawn between the approaches and themes of the two organisations, or whether joint synergies can be created. For example, it has been argued that both organisations have two distinct identities: development of the human capital for the OECD and education for democracy for the Council of Europe. Thus, the OECD concentrates on industrialised countries in Europe and abroad, while the Council of Europe is focused on democratic Europe as a whole.

12. During its meeting on 6 September 2005, the Committee held an exchange of views with the Deputy Director for Education of OECD, Mr Bernard Hugonnier, and the Director of School, Out-of-School and Higher Education of the Council of Europe, Mr Gabriele Mazza, on this draft contribution as well as on the work of both the OECD and the Council of Europe in the education field. It was concluded that, despite their different missions, both organisations followed closely the work of each other and in fact worked on sometimes identical subjects. Therefore, both organisations should use all opportunities to strengthen the existing co-operation and identify areas of coordinated activity between them, with due regard to the different missions and composition of the OECD and the Council of Europe. The Enlarged Assembly is invited to address this in its debate on the OECD on 5 October 2005.

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Reporting Committee: Committee on Economic Affairs and Development (Doc. 10645)

Committee for contribution: Committee on Culture, Science and Education

Reference to committee: Standing mandate

Contribution adopted by the Committee on 3 October 2005

Head of Secretariat: Mr Grayson

Secretaries to the Committee: Mr Ary, Mr Dossow

1 Approved by the Committee on 3 October 2005

2        Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America.