The three Baltic States now take part on an equal footing with the five Nordic countries in Nordplus, which is the Nordic Council of Ministers' most important education and research programme. The new Nordplus Framework Programme for 2008-11 has just been launched at a conference in Copenhagen on 8-9 November. The total budget for the Nordplus Framework Programme in 2008 is DKK 63.7 million.
At the opening of the conference the Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers, Halldór Ásgrímsson, said that it was a historic step for a Nordic programme has now been extended to become Nordic-Baltic. Lithuania’s Minister of Education, Roma Žakaitienė, agreed. In her speech she quoted Albert Einstein:
"The goal of education must be to train individuals who can think and act independently, but who can see that the most important result in life is to be of use to the community".
The Icelandic Minister of Education, Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir, was proud of the new programme. Iceland has certainly had great experience with students who leave home to study:
"Nordplus is one of the major success stories in Nordic co-operation. It involves over 10,000 people every year. It has helped to build bridges and create friendships between our countries.
Head of Department, Gard Titlestad, Nordic Council of Ministers, summed up at the end of the conference by saying that globalisation was here to stay. Attracting qualified manpower has become a crucial challenge. Nordplus co-operation is central in relation to the Nordic Prime Minsters’ ambition to strengthen co-operation in the Baltic Sea Region.
The programme affects all areas of education and life-long learning. Nordplus Horizontal will support the cross-sectoral network. The objective of Nordplus Junior is to support a network of daycare centres, basic schools and schools of further education. Nordplus Higher Education will contribute to co-operation between institutions of higher education. Nordplus Adult will develop co-operation on adult learning. The first application deadline for all parts of the Nordplus Framework Programme is 1 March 2008.