European Commission to encourage public-private partnerships in education

April 26, 2002

Brussels, 25 April 2002

In promoting the implementation of e-learning in Europe, Viviane Reding, Member of the Commission with responsibility for Education and Culture, today welcomed the launch of the eLearning Industry Group. The Group, which has been established at the initiative of 15 leading companies, will assist the Commission and Member State Governments in furthering the objectives of the Commission's eLearning Action Plan.

Commissioner Reding welcomed the initiative, stating: "I expect that the eLearning Industry Group will play a significant role in establishing the right conditions for the accelerated integration of e-learning in schools, universities and in the work place. Public-private partnerships can potentially play a key role in the development and implementation of successful e-learning solutions".

The Group, born out of last year's European eLearning Summit, has been founded by 15 leading companies to help Europe become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge based society in the world, and to work with the European Commission, national governments and academia in undertaking innovative projects to promote e-learning deployment in Europe. The Industry Group is also offering its support to Member State Governments that recently established e-learning as a priority for the forthcoming eEurope 2005 Programme.

The Industry Group will provide advice to the European Commission and national governments in areas such as essential information technology and telecommunications infrastructure, open standards to facilitate the exchange of e-learning content, development of a sustainable market for e-learning content and the development of relevant professional and personal skills.

Building on the eLearning Summit declaration and recommendations, the Industry Group will contribute to the Commission's ongoing work on indicators, benchmarking and public policy with respect to e-learning and lifelong learning in Europe, and provide the European Commission with references and model examples of e-learning projects and solutions from within and outside Europe. The Group will work in close cooperation with public institutions such as governments, schools and training institutions to implement four key initiatives:

Connect everyone and everything from everywhere removing the barriers that prevent people of all ages and from all sectors of society from having access to interactive e-learning environments.

Encourage the adoption of and participation in the development of open standards for e-learning so that international open standards, together with technological innovation and free market competition will deliver solutions that encourage broad participation in e-learning.

Create the conditions to sustain a commercial market for e-learning content and development so that education and training institutions can buy digital content and use it as an essential part of delivering e-learning.

Increase investment in continuous professional development of teachers and trainers, enhancing their status, and helping them develop and understand the principles for e-learning ensuring that educators in all areas of life are recognised and rewarded as crucial to the successful development of the information society and a knowledge economy.

The 15 founding members of the e-learning Industry Group are: 3Com, Accenture, Apple, BT, Cisco, Digitalbrain, IBM, Intel, Line Communications, NIIT, Nokia, Online Courseware Factory, Sanoma WSOY, Sun Microsystems and Vivendi Universal Publishing.

DN: IP/02/623 Date: 25/04/2002

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