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Journal number 2 ∘ Medea Melashvili Ketevan Kveladze Nunu Kistauri
Peculiarities of education in the EU and some of its countries


Expanded Summary 

Since the 1990s, the term "knowledge economy" has been widely used in Western economics by Austrian-American scientist Fritz Mahlup in 1962, who believed that natural material resources remain the basis for economic prosperity but the growth of the entire agricultural system and its development is provided not so much by external, but rather by internal, intangible factors, the most important of which is knowledge, that the main factor in the formation and development of the knowledge economy is human capital.

According to UN experts, the knowledge economy is an economy where knowledge is created, disseminated and used to increase the country's international competitiveness. The existence and development of a knowledge economy can only be achieved in a society where science, as a key component, affects almost every field of economics, and the creation and use of scientific knowledge is determined not only by the demands of economic efficiency.

According to the World Bank, 50% of the domestic products of developed countries today are based on knowledge. Knowledge is mainly provided by the education system based on scientific research, which should be aimed at increasing competitiveness. To this end, it has become urgent to bring up relevant staff in the EU, so the education system has been perfected, leading to the development of an appropriate unified policy.

With the creation of the European Union (1993), the issue of creating and further developing a unified innovative European space came to the fore here. Soon after, in 1995, the European Commission presented the so-called The „Green Paper on Innovation“, which has been recognized as one of the most important issues in Europe. Then, in 2000, the European Commission initiated a proposal to create a single European Research Area, whose main objectives were: to increase investment in knowledge; Creating a network of leading scientific centers; Promoting the careers of scientists at the European level; Increasing the mobility of European researchers and more. These tasks could not have been solved without the basis of their development - education and science.

In the same year, 2000, the leaders of the EU member states adopted a resolution in Lisbon, according to which by 2010 the EU should take the lead in the world. It was called the Lisbon Declaration, and its goals were called the `Lisbon Strategy~. According to Lisbon's strategy, spending on research and development should increase at about 3 percent of GDP by 2010 by all countries, with the private sector accounting for two-thirds of that spending.

A number of documents have been prepared in the European Union on the strategy and development policy of the European scientific-research field. Among them is the "Great Charter of Universities"; The Lisbon Convention~, the `Sorbonne Declaration~; `Bologna Declaration~; `Lisbon Declaration~; `Lisbon Strategy~, `Ljubljana Process~; "Framework Programs for Scientific Research and Technological Development"; `Europe~ 2020 program; Horizon 2020; "European Technological Platforms" and others. We are especially interested in the documents that regulate the educational sphere in particular. In 1988, for example, the European Union signed the `Universal Declaration of Magna Charta Universitatum~, which set out its position on the future of universities. Emphasis was also placed on cooperation between universities in the development of programs, textbook preparation, student and teacher mobility, and research.

In 1997, the Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications was signed in Lisbon, which was another step towards the establishment of a unified European educational space. Under the Convention, in addition to the recognition of the autonomy of universities, certain unification of legal norms had to take place, which was related to the mutual recognition of diplomas and relevant qualifications.

In 1998, the Sorbonne Declaration was signed, with the main goal of creating a unified open space for European higher education. Following the Sorbonne Declaration in 1999, the well-known "Bologna Declaration" was adopted, which discusses the preparation of staff by universities for the single European labor market. The Bologna Process required serious changes in the structure of universities, curricula, and teaching processes. Initially, there were two levels of teaching - bachelor's and master's degrees, and then a doctoral degree was added, which gives the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Latin - Philosophiae doctor (PHD).

Later, in 2006, a document was developed in accordance with the Bologna Process - `

Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area~. In 2008, the `European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR)~ was established.

In 2006, the European Union adopted a document entitled “From Knowledge to Practice. The EU's Extensive Innovative Strategy " ("Putting knowledge into practice: A broad-based innovation strategy for the European Union") recognizes that the basis for innovative development is education and science, their connection to practice, i.e. economics (business).

Based on the above-mentioned documents in the EU, according to the strategic plan for the development of the scientific and educational sphere, a unified chain should be created and developed in the EU from fundamental research to their commercialization. To this end, in 2010 the program "Europe 2020" was adopted, one of the main requirements of which is progress in the field of education, science and development i.e. innovation.

Studies conducted at different times and by different international organizations clearly indicate that EU countries are successfully implementing and further developing this or that proven education system. The success of any educational system depends largely on the proper organization and development of its initial stage - school education. The advantage of European schools is that their graduates can easily continue their studies at the world’s leading universities, it provides the necessary level of knowledge and foreign language proficiency. There are consultants in schools who help children choose their future specialty, prepare them for university exams, and help them collect the documents they need to enroll. All this guarantees the admission of adults to the university, not only in Europe, but also in higher education in other countries.

Children attend European secondary schools from about 6 to 18 years of age. There are low (6-11 years), secondary (11-16 years) and high (16-18 years) type schools. At the end of the study, everyone passes the graduation exam. In addition, schools are divided into municipal and private schools. Municipalities are also available for foreign children, but only if their parents live or work in a given country for a long time (that is why most foreigners study in private schools).

With the founding of the European Union (1993), it was agreed that there would be no complete unification of the education system. It remained within the competence of a single country.

European schools meet a common standard, but the details may differ. This is especially true for the most responsible part of teaching - the last two years of high school, which prepares the student for the certificate.

We have been interested in the perfection and development of the education system in some EU countries, particularly in countries such as the United Kingdom[1], Switzerland, Spain, Italy, France, and Finland, which have made significant strides in this area. It is stated that a successful transition to a knowledge economy in any country, among other factors, is possible by perfecting the field of education.

Among the education systems in the EU countries discussed by us, we consider the Finnish system to be particularly progressive. The first thing that stands out here is the tuition fee, which is cheaper in Finland than in other countries. This gives everyone a chance to get a higher level of education if they want to. The country, which allocates a large amount of money from the budget to finance education (5.5 million euros per year), receives highly qualified specialists with higher education who successfully fill the same budget.

Particularly noteworthy is the proper appreciation of the teaching profession, as well as their moral and material encouragement. Teacher salaries in the country are higher than the average salary. This, of course, ensures the popularity of this profession in Finland.

Another distinctive feature of the Finnish education system is that students actively participate in school life. Students' self-governments - in school management. Finns are proud of the fact that their education system is less stressful and open to different types of teaching methods. As a result, the difference between the best-performing and the lowest-achieving students is minimal. The main thing here is that young people understand all the "goodness" of education early on, the rest depends only on their diligence. The function of parents is to properly explain and institutionalize this "goodness."

In any country, a successful transition to a knowledge economy can only be achieved with a complex approach: a developed knowledge economy, an innovative system that must include: long-term investment in education, innovative development, modernization of information infrastructure, institutional economic incentives and entrepreneurship. It’s all possible only in the conditions of right state economic system.  Its successful implementation is only the prerogative of the state.

[1] The paper also examines the UK education system, as it has just left the European Union.