SDG 4: Quality education
1. EU Programmes likely to be relevant for libraries
Active inclusion means enabling every citizen, notably the most disadvantaged, to fully participate in society, including having a job. The Social Investment Package (SIP) stresses the importance of activating and enabling services: a) Job training and search assistance; b) access to basic bank accounts; c) Energy inclusion; d) Adequate income support.The European Social Fund provides support for implementing active inclusion strategies to tackle poverty and social exclusion at national level.
EU programme for employment and social innovation (EaSI)
The (EaSI) programme is a financing instrument at EU level to promote a high level of quality and sustainable employment, guaranteeing adequate and decent social protection, combating social exclusion and poverty and improving working conditions. EaSI is managed directly by the European Commission. It supports: a) the modernisation of employment and social policies with the PROGRESS axis; b) job mobility with the EURES axis; c) access to micro-finance and social entrepreneurship with the Microfinance and Social Entrepreneurship axis.
New Cohesion policy (2021-2027) - also see the EBLIDA report
|The European Structural and Investment Funds 2021-2027 report|
European Social Fund Plus (2021-2027)
For the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027, the Commission proposes to further strengthen the Union’s social dimension with a new and improved European Social Fund, the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) and a more effective European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). The ESF+ Regulation will integrate the current ESF, YEI, FEAD, EaSI and the EU Health programme, with ESF being complementary to other funds (such as the EGF, Erasmus, AMIF, ERDF, RSP, InvestEU).
Erasmus + Education and training 2020 strategic framework - European higher education in the world
By promoting foreign study and training, the Erasmus+ programme aims to contribute to the Europe 2020 strategy for growth, jobs, social equity and inclusion. It also supports ET2020, the EU's strategic framework for education and training.
For over 30 years, the EU has funded the Erasmus programme, which has enabled over three million European students to spend part of their studies at another higher education institution or with an organisation in Europe. Now, Erasmus+ gives individuals from a diverse array of backgrounds the chance to learn in a foreign country - students, staff, trainees, teachers, volunteers and more.
Organisations can also benefit from the program, and may engage in a number of development and networking activities - including strategic improvement of the professional skills of their staff, organisational capacity building, and creating transnational cooperative partnerships with organisations from other countries in order to produce innovative outputs or exchange best practices.
EURES. The European Job Mobility Portal
EURES is a cooperation network designed to facilitate the free movement of workers within the EU 28 countries plus Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
The network is composed of: the European Coordination Office (ECO), the National Coordination Offices (NCOs), EURES Partners and the Associated EURES Partners.
Cedefop is one of the EU’s decentralised agencies. Founded (1) in 1975 and based in Greece since 1995, Cedefop supports development of European vocational education and training (VET) policies and contributes to their implementation.
Cedefop works to strengthen European cooperation and provide the evidence on which to base European VET policy. Cedefop’s added value is the high quality of its comparative analyses and expertise gathered through research and networking, which are used to: a) Provide technical advice and propose ideas for VET policies; b) Fill knowledge gaps and generating new insights that identify trends in and challenges for VET; c) Increase awareness of VET’s image and importance; d) Bring together policy-makers, social partners, researchers and practitioners to share ideas and debate the best ways to improve VET policies; e) Support and encourage joint European approaches, principles and tools to improve VET.
Persons with disabilities
The EU promotes the active inclusion and full participation of disabled people in society, in line with the EU human rights approach to disability issues. Disability is a rights issue and not a matter of discretion. This approach is also at the core of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which the EU is a party.
Private sector development
The overarching goal of the European Union’s efforts aimed at private sector development is to engage this sector in the fight against poverty, and to support the private sector in its role as a driver of job creation, a provider of goods and services and a generator of the public revenues needed to underpin economically, socially and environmentally sustainable development.
To achieve this, the EU has developed an approach to strengthening the role of the private sector in achieving inclusive and sustainable growth.
Skills and Vocational Education and Training – International Cooperation and Development
Quality and relevant vocational education and training, or VET, can provide people, and especially youth, with the knowledge, skills and competencies required for the jobs of today or tomorrow. The provision of relevant job skills can therefore be a robust means of empowering people to seize employment opportunities or equip them for self-employment. The VET Toolbox(link is external) works with partner countries to strengthen their capacity to implement VET and labour market reforms, enhancing labour market relevance and employability for all.
Mobility and Cooperation in higher education
Learning mobility is an opportunity for students to develop valuable skills and to expand their horizons by going abroad to study or undertake training. The benefits of mobility are widely recognised. Going abroad to study or to train helps people to develop their professional, social and intercultural skills, as well as enhancing their employability. Higher education students who undertake a mobility period abroad are more likely to find employment one year after graduation.
EU Youth Strategy
The EU Youth Strategy is the framework for EU youth policy cooperation for 2019-2027, based on the Council Resolution of 26 November 2018. EU youth cooperation shall make the most of youth policy's potential. It fosters youth participation in democratic life; it also supports social and civic engagement and aims to ensure that all young people have the necessary resources to take part in society.
2. SDG4 - oriented projects and Best Practices
SDG 4 is quite obviously the natural river bed for many library activities. Reading is at the core of the mission of public libraries; therefore, their initiatives encompass a wide range of activities both in content and in the public that is targeted. They promote the difference between deep reading (of books and other digital or printed matters) and light reading (in social media), as highlighted in EU-read, a Consortium of European entities dealing with reading activities. An impressive number of projects, often funded by the Erasmus+ programme, are being implemented for children as well for adults engaged in digital literacy. (https://publiclibraries2030.eu/2020/02/embarking-on-the-digital-travellers-journey/)
The French Agenda 2030 et bibliothèques website lists some 100 activities taking place in French libraries and covering SDG 4. The “IFLA Library Map of the world” lists SDG stories in at least five European countries (Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Romania).“Treffpunkt Deutsch“ is a cooperative library project providing access to language training and educational resources to the immigrant community in Germany; it is implemented at the Stadtbibliothek Heilbronn (and meets both SD Goals 4 and 5).
While the nature of the content is more or less determined by library specializations (academic, public, research, school, special libraries), a reinforced investment concern library services oriented at special publics.
Without pretending to be exhaustive, these are the fields in which SDG 4 applies in libraries:
- Extended general support to students;
- Young students having special needs (dyslexia, etc.),
- Relapse into illiteracy;
- Digital illiteracy
- Language courses and in particular, language courses for the host country for immigrants;
- Extended library openings on special events;
- Libraries as social meeting points for women at home and/or of non-national origin;
- Vocational training;
- Use of digital resources and databases;
- Children reading;
- EU information and access to EU databases;
- Sources in open access.
SDG4-oriented projects in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Sweden
3. Opportunities for library funding
This Chapter refers to the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) 2021-2027, and in particular to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund+ (ESF).
In order to make the most out of these Funds, first refer to the ESIF managing authorities, which are different in every Member State and are responsible for national operational programmes and policies. The list of national authorities, country after country, and region after region, is available at the following link: https://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/atlas/managing-authorities/.
In the Table(s) below, for each ESIF objective: Column 1 designates the ERDF or ESF+ specific objective. Column 2 and 3 set, respectively, the related outputs and results indicated by ESIF official documents. It can be easily inferred that European Commission criteria for evaluation are quite general and do not get into the detail of the programmes. It is up to Member States to set additional criteria for evaluation.
Finally, Column 4 lists examples of library projects set up to pursue ESIF objectives or to attain specific Sustainable Development Goals. ESIF-funded and SDG-oriented library projects are matched with specific ESIF 2021-2027 objectives and sub-objectives; what is shown in the table, however, is a simulation: under which presumed ESIF specific objective could SDG-oriented library projects have been funded, if they were to be presented within the ESIF 2021-2027 framework?
More detailed information on the Library Projects listed in Column 5 can be found in the Sustainable Development Goals and Libraries - First European Report.
4. Main Eurostat Indicators
Key trends in quality education in the European Union show the following evidence (Eurostat Report, pp. 97 and ss):
- Participation in early childhood education has reached the ET 2020 benchmark;
- Early leaving from education and training has reduced significantly since 2002, but progress has stagnated over the past few years;
- Despite improved participation rates, education outcomes in reading, maths and science have deteriorated;
- Young women stay longer in education and training and show better reading skills;
- Young people with disabilities or from a migrant background show significantly lower educational attainment;
- Early leavers and low-educated young people face particularly severe problems in the labour market;
- The share of the population with tertiary education has reached the ET 2020 benchmark;
- Employment rates rise with educational attainment;
- Women achieve higher tertiary education attainment rates, but male graduates are more likely to find employment;
- Foreign-born residents achieve lower tertiary attainment rates and lower recent graduate employment rates;
- Adult participation in learning remains far from the target set for 2020;
- Women are more likely to participate in adult learning.
Goal 4’s attainment is monitored through the following main indicators: Source: EU SDG Indicator set 2020:
5. Library Indicators
Library Indicators enabling the evaluation of library performances and how they can match SDG indicators.
A report on Library indicators and SDGs has been released by the ELSA working Group: "Towards the implementation of SDG Indicators in European Libraries"
"Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all"
Education and training are key drivers for growth and jobs as they help to improve employability, productivity, innovation and competitiveness. In the broader sense, education is also a precondition for achieving many other Sustainable Development Goals. Receiving quality education enables people to break the cycle of poverty, which in turn helps to reduce inequalities and reach gender equality. Education also empowers people to live healthier lives and helps them to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. Furthermore, education is crucial for fostering tolerance, which contributes to more peaceful societies.
The Europe 2020 Strategy for growth and jobs includes an education target to reduce the rates of early school leaving below 10% and to ensure that at least 40% of 30-34 year-olds complete higher education. For best practice exchange and support to policy reforms, the EU has set up the Strategic framework – Education and Training (ET 2020). Between 2014 and 2020, the Erasmus+ mobility programme funds 4 million young students, trainees, apprentices and volunteers.
Beyond its borders, the EU provides support to education in the framework of the European development policy, the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Enlargement policy. By 2020, Erasmus+ funding in third countries will support the exchange of around 150,000 university students and staff, 1000 capacity building projects on higher education and 27,000 master degree scholarships across the world.
Targets and Indicators: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg4
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