Key Competencies

Key competencies for Lifelong Learning

European Reference Framework

1) Method of Investigation

This document does not deal with a specific survey and its parameters (Method of investigation, Objectives, Findings, and Conclusions-Recommendations). It is a framework which is comprised by a list of definitions of key competences (and the essential knowledge, skills and attitudes related to them) that are related to Lifelong Learning Program. The Framework identifies and defines, for the first time at the European level, the key competences that citizens require for their personal fulfillment, social inclusion, active citizenship and employability in our knowledge-based society. The Member States’ initial education and training systems should support the development of these competences for all young people, and their adult education and training provision should give real opportunities to all adults to learn and maintain these skills and competences.

2) Objectives

 The European Reference Framework for Lifelong Learning aims to:

  • identify and define the key competences necessary for personal fulfillment, active citizenship, social cohesion and employability in a knowledge society;

  • support Member States’ work in ensuring that by the end of initial education and training young people have developed the key competences to a level that equips them for adult life and which forms a basis for further learning and working life, and that adults are able to develop and update their key competence throughout their lives;

  • provide a European-level reference tool for policy-makers, education providers, employers, and learners themselves to facilitate national- and European-level efforts towards commonly agreed objectives;

  • provide a framework for further action at Community level both within the Education and Training 2010 work programme and within the Community Education and Training Programmes.

3) Key competences

Competences are defined here as a combination of knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the context. Key competences are those which all individuals need for personal fulfillment and development, active citizenship, social inclusion and employment.

The Reference Framework sets out eight key competences:

  • Communication in the mother tongue;

  • Communication in foreign languages;

  • Mathematical competence and basic

  • competences in science and technology;

  • Digital competence;

  • Learning to learn;

  • Social and civic competences;

  • Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship;

  • Cultural awareness and expression.

The key competences are all considered equally important, because each of them can contribute to a successful life in a knowledge society. Many of the competences overlap and interlock: aspects essential to one domain will support  competence in another. Competence in the fundamental basic skills of language, literacy, numeracy and in information and communication technologies (ICT) is an essential foundation for learning, and learning to learn supports all learning activities. There are a number of themes that are applied throughout the Reference Framework: critical thinking, creativity, initiative, problem-solving, risk assessment, decision-taking, and constructive management of feelings play a role in all eight key competences.

 

Communication in the mother tongue

Communication in the mother tongue is the ability to express and interpret concepts, thoughts, feelings, facts and opinions in both oral and written form (listening, speaking, reading and writing), and to interact linguistically in an appropriate and creative way in a full range of societal and cultural contexts; in education and training, work, home and leisure.

Communication in foreign languages

Communication in foreign languages broadly shares the main skill dimensions of communication in the mother tongue: it is based on the ability to understand, express and interpret concepts, thoughts, feelings, facts and opinions in both oral and written form (listening, speaking, reading and writing) in an appropriate range of societal and cultural contexts (in education and training, work, home and leisure) according to one’s wants or needs. Communication in foreign languages also calls for skills such as mediation and intercultural understanding. An individual’s level of proficiency will vary between the four dimensions (listening, speaking, reading and writing) and between the different languages, and according to that individual’s social and cultural background, environment, needs and/or interests.

Mathematical competence and basic competences in science and technology

Mathematical competence is the ability to develop and apply mathematical thinking in order to solve a range of problems in everyday situations. Building on a sound mastery of numeracy, the emphasis is on process and activity, as well as knowledge. Mathematical competence involves, to different degrees, the ability and willingness to use mathematical modes of thought (logical and spatial thinking) and presentation (formulas, models, constructs, graphs, charts).

Digital competence

Digital competence involves the confident and critical use of Information Society Technology (IST) for work, leisure and communication. It is underpinned by basic skills in ICT: the use of computers to retrieve, assess, store, produce, present and exchange information, and to communicate and participate in collaborative networks via the Internet.

Learning to learn

Learning to learn is the ability to pursue and persist in learning, to organize one’s own learning, including through effective management of time and information, both individually and in groups. This competence includes awareness of one’s learning process and needs, identifying available opportunities, and the ability to overcome obstacles in order to learn successfully. This competence means gaining, processing and assimilating new knowledge and skills as well as seeking and making use of guidance. Learning to learn engages learners to build on prior learning and life experiences in order to use and apply knowledge and skills in a variety of contexts: at home, at work, in education and training. Motivation and confidence are crucial to an individual’s competence.

Social and civic competences

These include personal, interpersonal and intercultural competence and cover all forms of behaviour that equip individuals to participate in an effective and constructive way in social and working life, and particularly in increasingly diverse societies, and to resolve conflict where necessary. Civic competence equips individuals to fully participate in civic life, based on knowledge of social and political concepts and structures and a commitment to active and democratic participation.

Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship

Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship refers to an individual’s ability to turn ideas into action. It includes creativity, innovation and risk-taking, as well as the ability to plan and manage projects in order to achieve objectives. This supports individuals, not only in their everyday lives at home and in society, but also in the workplace in being aware of the context of their work and being able to seize opportunities, and is a foundation for more specific skills and knowledge needed by those establishing or contributing to social or commercial activity. This should include awareness of ethical values and promote good governance.

Cultural awareness and expression

Appreciation of the importance of the creative expression of ideas, experiences and emotions in a range of media, including music, performing arts, literature, and the visual arts.

About the Author: Maurizio

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