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Parliament reports on education and the Information Society

The European Parliament, at its meeting in Strasbourg from 10 to 14 March 1997, adopted three major reports on Community policy in relation to the Information Society, education and social policy. The Commission's Green Paper on Living and Working in the Information Society, ...

The European Parliament, at its meeting in Strasbourg from 10 to 14 March 1997, adopted three major reports on Community policy in relation to the Information Society, education and social policy. The Commission's Green Paper on Living and Working in the Information Society, published in July 1996, addresses the problems of adapting work and social life to changes brought about by the introduction of new technologies. Parliament's resolution on the Green Paper emphasizes the need to take the needs of people and social policies into account in the development of the Information Society. In particular, Parliament stresses the need to avoid the emergence of a two-speed society, with the new information and communications tools inaccessible to many. Parliament calls for measures to reduce working hours, leading to a fairer distribution of work, and to increase access to education. The resolution also calls for a shift in the tax burden away from labour to other sectors such as energy. Mr. Mario Monti, speaking on behalf of the Commission, acknowledged Parliament's concerns, and noted that there was a consensus in the EU on the need for action at European level. He also announced the Commission's intention to present a Green Paper on the organization of work in the context of teleworking. The Parliament also adopted an own-initiative report on education and new technology, which examines new technologies and their applications in schools. The report calls for efforts to be made by the Commission and Member States to ensure that all schools and pupils have access to the latest technologies, avoiding discrimination. It notes the important role on libraries in ensuring widespread access and the need for the private sector to contribute, in partnership with the public sector. The report calls for target dates to be set to ensure progress in development and implementation of new technologies in schools. The year 2000 is set as a target for all teachers to be trained in using the new technologies. MEPs also called on the Commission to develop its support for educational multimedia applications. Acknowledging the challenges which lie ahead for the EU, Commissioner Martin Bangemann, stated that the enormous numbers of applications already received showed that there was considerable interest in developing applications and that the Commission was on the right lines in its support. Also on the theme of education and the Information Society, the Parliament adopted a report on the Commission's White Paper on Education and Training - Towards the Learning Society, which was published in November 1995. The White Paper sets out five areas for cooperative action to develop education in Europe, in particular by taking advantage of the opportunities presented by new information and communications technologies. Parliament's report calls for the new opportunities to be made available to all European citizens, with lifelong learning a priority. In particular, it calls for increases in education budgets across the EU, and for increased funding for the Community's LEONARDO DA VINCI and SOCRATES action programmes in the field of vocational training and education. The report further calls on the Commission to present proposals for a European apprenticeship scheme, and to incorporate educational priorities into other Community policies. MEPs also called on the Commission to ensure that the EU plays a major role in language teaching.

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