Brussels, 15 May 2017

ECSWE position on the revision of the Key Competences Framework
ECSWE welcomes the revision as an opportunity for a shift in paradigm towards holistic and human-centred education.

Towards a human-cen­tred edu­ca­tion: 7 pri­or­i­ties for the revi­sion of the Key Com­pe­tences Frame­work

Since the adop­tion of the Euro­pean Frame­work for Key Com­pe­tences for Life­long Learn­ing in 2006, many Euro­pean coun­tries have under­tak­en pol­i­cy reforms to intro­duce com­pe­tence-based teach­ing and learn­ing in for­mal edu­ca­tion. To adapt the frame­work to the man­i­fold soci­etal chal­lenges in the polit­i­cal, social, eco­nom­ic, eco­log­i­cal and tech­no­log­i­cal field and to ensure its sus­tain­abil­i­ty, the frame­work is cur­rent­ly under review. Once that revi­sion is com­plete, we may well expect a sim­i­lar fol­low-up at nation­al lev­el.

We are con­vinced that a revised and well imple­ment­ed key com­pe­tences frame­work may con­tribute to both edu­cat­ing healthy and hap­py chil­dren and estab­lish­ing and sus­tain­ing a thriv­ing civ­il soci­ety. This would require a true shift of par­a­digm towards a learn­er-cen­tred and holis­tic ped­a­gog­i­cal approach that empha­sis­es social and civic com­pe­tences, val­ues and nur­tures the arts and crafts, sup­ports the devel­op­ment of cre­ativ­i­ty and allows each indi­vid­ual to unfold and devel­op its unique per­son­al­i­ty and poten­tial.

To make the most of this process, ECSWE would like to sug­gest the fol­low­ing 7 pri­or­i­ties for a human-cen­tred key com­pe­tences frame­work:

1. Com­mit to a holis­tic approach: Holis­tic edu­ca­tion seeks to address “heads, hearts and hands”. To this end, phys­i­cal and emo­tion­al capac­i­ties are nur­tured along­side pure­ly men­tal and intel­lec­tu­al abil­i­ties. A revised frame­work should put more empha­sis on health, well­be­ing, arts & crafts and social capac­i­ties. Fur­ther­more, we sug­gest a rede­f­i­n­i­tion of the math­e­mat­i­cal and sci­en­tif­ic com­pe­tence and com­mu­ni­ca­tion in for­eign lan­guages accord­ing to our pro­pos­als (see annex­es 1, 2 & 3).

2. Make per­son­al devel­op­ment a pri­or­i­ty: Not even cog­ni­tive com­pe­tence can be installed in stu­dents from out­side. Con­cepts must be giv­en the chance to arise in each stu­dent indi­vid­u­al­ly, just as plants only grow from seeds in watered soil that is warmed and light­ed by the sun. Warmth of soul, the light of inquiry and the flow of con­ver­sa­tion can tend the soil of per­son­al devel­op­ment with­in the class­room. As pro­po­nents of a devel­op­ment-ori­ent­ed ped­a­gog­i­cal approach, we whole­heart­ed­ly sup­port the idea of trans­form­ing the com­pe­tence “learn­ing to learn” into a broad­ly defined com­pe­tence on per­son­al devel­op­ment.

3. Empha­sise the impor­tance of rela­tion­ships: The abil­i­ty to build mean­ing­ful and healthy rela­tion­ships with oth­ers is an impor­tant life-skill that should be sup­port­ed by high­light­ing it as an impor­tant aspect of per­son­al devel­op­ment and social com­pe­tence.

4. Ensure an age-appro­pri­ate and crit­i­cal media ped­a­gogy: In con­trast to oth­ers call­ing for an ear­ly intro­duc­tion of dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy to fos­ter dig­i­tal com­pe­tence, we believe that the pro­mo­tion of cre­ativ­i­ty, the strength­en­ing of the will and the thor­ough acqui­si­tion of basic skills such as lit­er­a­cy and numer­a­cy, com­bined with the abil­i­ty of crit­i­cal and inde­pen­dent think­ing, are impor­tant pre­con­di­tions for mak­ing mean­ing­ful, con­scious and selec­tive use of dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy. We there­fore call for an age- and devel­op­men­tal­ly appro­pri­ate imple­men­ta­tion of the dig­i­tal com­pe­tence.

5. Make more room for arts and cre­ativ­i­ty: The com­pe­tence “cul­tur­al aware­ness and expres­sion” should bet­ter explain how prac­tic­ing art like paint­ing, sculpt­ing, music, dra­ma or lit­er­a­ture and poet­ry can become an impor­tant means of self-expres­sion but also of acquir­ing impor­tant com­pe­tences. Many ben­e­fi­cial side effects are also ignored: The cre­ation of a piece of art requires per­sis­tence, a strong will and focus, and grad­u­al­ly rein­forces these impor­tant skills and capac­i­ties through reg­u­lar prac­tice. More­over prac­tic­ing art can devel­op the impor­tant com­pe­tence of act­ing ade­quate­ly in new and unex­pect­ed sit­u­a­tions.

6. Ensure plu­ral­ism in assess­ing the key com­pe­tences: Stan­dard­ised tests are not the right tools to assess the key com­pe­tences holis­ti­cal­ly, as they mea­sure at best a nar­row range of tra­di­tion­al com­pe­tences, and give incen­tives to mere­ly teach to the test. They are there­fore not suit­ed for exploit­ing the full poten­tial of the frame­work. A vari­ety of dif­fer­ent assess­ment meth­ods, and in par­tic­u­lar for­ma­tive assess­ment, should be fur­ther explored and used.​ Assess­ment should become a tool for per­son­al growth and devel­op­ment that gives insight in one’s learn­ing process­es and allows for crit­i­cal reflec­tion and self-reflec­tion.

7. Allow for flex­i­ble imple­men­ta­tion at school lev­el: One of the strengths of the key com­pe­tences frame­work is its gen­er­al char­ac­ter that allows for adap­ta­tion tai­lored to the local con­texts. We there­fore rec­om­mend its flex­i­ble imple­men­ta­tion respect­ing both the prin­ci­ple of sub­sidiar­i­ty and school auton­o­my.

A question? Please don’t hesitate to contact us!

georg juergens

Georg Jürgens

+32 2 644 00 43
+32 485 668 230