On 25 August, SOLIDAR Foundation provided its views on the European Commission public consultation on the Digital Education Action Plan (DEAP). This consultation feeds into the upcoming update of the DEAP in September 2020, to ensure that it promotes high quality and inclusive education and training in the digital age. This becomes increasingly relevant as the COVID-19-related lockdown has illuminated deficiencies in ensuring distance learning across all EU member states. The updated DEAP represents a part of the Commission’s effort towards achieving long-term digital transformation and meeting the priorities outlined in the ‘A Europe fit for the digital age’ strategy.
Drawing from its recently published AI Position Paper and from the 2019 Citizenship and Lifelong Learning Monitor edition, SOLIDAR Foundation contributed to this consultation by emphasizing the importance of updating the DEAP with a long-term perspective in mind, rather than as a response to COVID-19. The issues highlighted by the COVID-19 response regarding education and training are longstanding, and require a careful evaluation of why previous actions and measures have not secured the foundation on which digital education and the digital transformation rely. Almost half of EU’s citizens are missing basic digital skills, while, across Europe, wide discrepancies in academic achievement and in access to digital infrastructure can be observed. Before these issues are tackled, it is premature to consider relying on online, distance learning - or to consider including more complex digital tools in the learning process.
Though solutions must be found to continue learning online under the specter of restrictions caused by a second wave of COVID-19 infections, there must be an acknowledgement that not all EU citizens benefit the same way from digital resources and that the DEAP must support all EU citizens, promote inclusive education and promote digital education beyond the current crisis. SOLIDAR Foundation shall continue to collaborate with all stakeholders and partners for the elaboration and implementation of the DEAP.