The Ministers of Education and Higher Education of South Eastern Europe

Declaration

The Ministers of Education and Higher Education of South Eastern Europe agree on the need to strengthen regional cooperation in the field of adult education as a key issue for economic and social regeneration in the region, building on existing international and European documents.1

They stress the importance of adult education aimed at establishing a knowledge based society throughout Europe as laid down in the conclusions to the Lisbon European Council meeting.

South Eastern Europe being part of the evolving wider area of education, it requires particularly rapid development in the adult education sector since the economic problems facing the population in societies in transition in South Eastern Europe can only be resolved through improved education. The increased pace of change in the world of work, the complete transformation of some job profiles and the political demands made on enfranchised persons call for new approaches in education policy. Lifelong Learning is the appropriate response to the constant growth in human knowledge and the speed of the information flow, and is of direct benefit to people, helping to turn them into a skilled and flexible workforce.

The Ministers recognize the efforts undertaken so far to achieve greater coherence between the goals of Education for All,2 Adult Education3 and Lifelong Learning, and to strengthen the role of adult education within the wider concept of Lifelong Learning. The Ministers declare their strong support for the South Eastern Europe Education Reform Initiative.4

Within this framework they declare their intention to commit themselves to the following goals:

  • Ensuring that adult education and vocational training become an explicit and integral element of Lifelong Learning policies and practices

  • Supporting the establishment of the necessary legal framework and mechanisms

  • Securing adequate financial support for sustainable adult education and vocational training development

  • Fostering partnership between statutory, non-governmental and social partners to address different adult learning needs and to promote active participation in society

  • Ensuring and promoting equal opportunities and access to quality education for ethnic minorities and socially disadvantaged groups

  • Enhancing the application of gender sensitive policies in the provision of adult education Building on and acknowledging the achievements of the Enhanced Graz Process/Task Force Education and Youth of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe.

  • Supporting quality development and certification of adult education and vocational training programmes in recognition of formal and non-formal adult learning

  • Coordinating adult education and vocational training activities in order to develop the sector to take account of the social and political needs of Lifelong Learning

  • Creating a system for recognising existing and newly emerging qualifications, diplomas and certificates throughout Europe, within and across national/territorial boundaries,5 thereby improving the transparency and supporting the development of skills and qualifications

  • Including adult education as an important part of teacher training

They have identified the following priority instruments to further enhance cooperation in adult education and vocational training in the Region in order to contribute to peace and reconciliation in the Balkan Region:

  • Development of improved channels of communication between institutions and governments within the countries of the Region

  • Expansion of exchanges of learners, adult educators and scientists in order to enrich policy and practice in adult education

  • Support for existing networks in their efforts to build capacity and strengthen the dissemination of information on adult education development and reform in South Eastern Europe

The Ministers agree to the following action plan to be carried out by the end of 2005:

  1. Establishment of a separate department/responsible persons in every Ministry of Education responsible for adult education and lifelong learning
  2. Provision of a legislative framework for adult education and lifelong learning, including a law on adult education
  3. Creation of wider opportunities for andragogical studies in every country or territory and in the whole Region
  4. Organization of at least two follow-up meetings at expert level to report on activities and outcomes, and to exchange experience in adult education.

Skopje, 18 October 2003

For the Ministry of Education and Science,
Republic of Romania
Vasile Molan
Head of Department

For the Ministry of Education and Science,
Republic of Macedonia
Dr. Zoran Popovski
State Secretary

For the UNMIK / Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG)
Dr. Johann Schrumpf/Venera Llunji
Ministry of Education, Science and
Technology of Kosovo

For the Ministry of Education and Science,
Republic of Croatia

For the Ministry of Education and Science,
Republic of Bulgaria
Prof. Kamen Vesselinov
Deputy Minister

For the Ministry of Education and Science,
Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina

For the Ministry of Education and Science,
Republic of Albania
Saemira Pino-Gjipali
Deputy Minister

For the Ministry of Education and Science,
Republic of Montenegro,
Serbia and Montenegro
Radovan Damjanovic
Deputy Minister

For the Ministry of Education and Sport,
Republic of Serbia,
Serbia and Montenegro
Dr. Želimir Popov
Deputy Minister

For the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport,
Republic of Slovenia,
Marjan Šiftar
Ambassador  

Notes

1  In accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding, signed at Nicosia, Cyprus on 28 June 2003 on the occasion of the Seventh Conference of European Ministers of Education, according to which lifelong learning outcomes are one of the main benchmarks for education systems, and taking note of the Sofia Call to Action, issued on 9 November 2002 at Sofia, Bulgaria.

2  Forum on Education for All (EFA), Dakar, 2000.

3 5th UNESCO International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA V), Hamburg 1997.  

4 Building on and acknowledging the achievements of the Enhanced Graz Process/Task Force Education and Youth of the Stability pact for South Eastern Europe. 

5 e.g. by introducing the European Credit Transfer System.