This week continues SOLIDAR Foundation’s publication of national reports, in the framework of the Citizenship Education and Lifelong Learning Monitor 2018, with the Slovakian case study. The report coincides with OECD’s publication of their annual report ‘Education at a Glance’, which develops comparable international indicators for examining the quality of learning outcomes, the policy levers, contextual factors shaping the outcomes, as well as the broader private and social returns that accrue to investments in education.
The OECD’s report reinforces the importance of promoting social cohesion and an education that fosters social and emotional skills to ensure the enhancement of social connections and of protecting people from isolation. Furthermore, the report highlights the dangers of people being left behind, missing out on opportunities to build on social capital by lacking the necessary skills and competences to participate in the digital world and labour market.
Slovakia has been flagged across the report due to its high percentage of young people not in employment or education and training (NEETs), which has reached 3%, while the OECD average is at 1.5%. This is coupled with Slovakia having one of the highest percentages of people without an upper secondary education, who do not participate in cultural and sporting activities, formal volunteering, on social media, or within a group of friends. There is a gap of 7% among tertiary-educated people and people with upper secondary education that report meeting with friends once a week in Slovakia. Moreover, only 8% of adults with upper secondary education report using social media daily, compared to 47% among tertiary-educated adults. The exclusion and inequality of opportunities experienced by people with a lower educational achievement in Slovakia, as presented by the ‘Education at a Glance’ report is striking.
These dangerous trends of social isolation experienced in Slovakia have been also identified in SOLIDAR Foundation’s national report, as the student performance in basic and in civic skills has been linked with the socioeconomic background of pupils. Providing more time for teaching and training in citizenship education, providing resources for a whole-school approach to be implemented in schools, and responding to demands to develop media literacy and critical thinking, are only some of the recommendations presented in our report, which can contribute to combating the levels of social exclusion in Slovakia and that could contribute to boosting participation levels in adult education. As the ‘Education at a Glance’ report succinctly puts it, ‘Learning begets more learning’, as it reveals how increased adult education and a fertile environment for lifelong learning are correlated with populations that have a higher level of educational attainment.