ABSTRACT

Nations have long viewed education as an important factor in both individual and societal development. The responsibilities of the state, in this respect, include manifold dimensions, such as civic concern to educate citizens who can participate eff ectively in public life and economic concern to equip students with appropriate workplace skills. To achieve these diverse objectives, European nations have, until recently, considered that educational issues were very idiosyncratic, being part of their history and cultural specifi cities. In the fi rst decades of its development, European Union policies did not change that perspective. However, important evolution has taken place, especially since the turning point of the new century. In the fi rst part of this chapter, we will describe those changes, the transformation of the ideological context they refl ect and the new political framework they create for political issues and concrete reforms. Then, we will analyse three main directions in which this broad ideological mood is shown: the growing individualistic perspective on education, the stress put on choice, autonomy and decentralization, and the obsession with benchmarking.