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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 June 2006, 14:18 GMT 15:18 UK
EU sets out lessons for students
The EC wants to prepare youngsters for work in information economies
Pupils in the UK would be taught about European integration, democracy and cultural diversity under plans drawn up by the European Commission.

Pupils across the 25 member states would be expected to master eight "competences", under a draft document approved by the British government.

The plan stresses the need to master maths, other languages and technology.

The Conservatives described the idea as "pernicious", but the government said it was merely a framework for learning.

The "key competences for lifelong learning" have been drawn up in response to the growth in knowledge-based economies and the need for people to work in an information society.

The eight put forward by commissioners are:

  • communication in the mother tongue
  • communication in foreign languages
  • mathematical competence and basic competences in science and technology
  • digital competence (use of computers)
  • learning to learn
  • social and civic competences
  • entrepreneurship
  • cultural expression (including an understanding of the cultural and linguistic diversity of Europe).


Shadow education minister Boris Johnson expressed concern that the recommendations amounted to a "euro-curriculum".

Mr Johnson said the plan was "distracting and downright pernicious" and he criticised the government for approving it.

"What we have here is the first attempt to use the European curriculum to create what the commission regards as its ultimate goal - a common European identity," he said.

"It is terrifying, Orwellian."

But the Higher Education Minister, Bill Rammell, said: "We are clear that decisions about what is taught in our schools are made nationally and not from Brussels.

"Anyone claiming that these proposals will force changes in our school curriculum is simply wrong or deliberately trying to mislead people. The recommendation is not legally binding.

"The reference framework is aimed at supporting member states in implementing education reforms and acknowledges that decisions about the provision of opportunities to acquire these competences are best taken at national, regional and local levels."

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