European Union education ministers will be privately addressed by a Nobel Prize winner when they meet informally in Cyprus on 4-5 October.
Christoforos Pissarides, a Cypriot Briton who was the Nobel economics laureate in 2010, has been asked to talk by the Cypriot presidency of the Council of Ministers about the economic impact of education.
The presentation by Pissarides is the centrepiece of the central theme of the Nicosia meeting, education's potential contribution to the EU's 2020 growth strategy. Informally, a national diplomat said, it might also catalyse debate about how ministers can protect education funding.
Ministers will give national examples of best practice – including Poland's development of vocational training – to indicate how education can be put to better economic use.
Ministers will also discuss their literacy campaigns, with Ireland's 15-month-old strategy being one touchstone. Illiteracy has been brought into the spotlight by a 2009 report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that one in five European 15-year-olds have inadequate reading skills, and by a follow-up EU report published this month.