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Eurydice, the European Union’s network for information on education systems and policies, came out with a new publication in January 2017. “Support mechanisms for evidence-based policy-making in education” looks at the use of - or otherwise – different kinds of evidence for policy-making in education. After presenting the policy context (with a focus on the Lisbon Strategy, the Open Method of Coordination and the Education and Training 2010 and 2020 agendas) and different concepts for evidence-based policy-making, the little study provides a Europe-wide comparative overview of different approaches to evidence-based policy-making. The bulk of the study consists of examples from the 38 countries belonging to the Eurydice network. In all cases, the aim of the report is to identify the actors and institutions involved in knowledge creation, knowledge mediation, and knowledge application.
The report is based on a wide understanding of “evidence”. The understanding encompasses information, research and statistics from government bodies, higher education institutions and other organisations. In addition, it takes into account consultations with experts and stakeholders. Reading the piece of research, one is sometimes tempted to believe that policy-making in the past was not informed by data, research and expert knowledge. This is of course not the case. Likewise, as the report itself points out, evidence is not the only element guiding policy-formulation. After all, there are not only evidence-based policies, but there is also ‘policy-based evidence’.