- Support for the EU’s Digital Education Action Plan 2021-2027
- At least 10 % of funds requested by national recovery and resilience plans should go to education
- Digital transition funding should contribute to bridging digital education access gaps
EU’s digital education policy needs to be shaped according to the needs and access gaps exposed by the sudden COVID-19-driven shift to teleworking and online learning.
In a resolution adopted on Thursday by 639 votes in favour, 24 against and 25 abstentions the European Parliament keeps on calling the Member States to dedicate at least 10 % of their recovery and resilience funds to education. EU's digital transition funds should be invested into bridging the social and geographical gap in access to digital education for all.
The rapporteur Victor Negrescu (S&D, RO), said before the vote: “Access to education using digital means is a right. However, we were not prepared for this rapid shift to digital education. Millions of children in the EU did not have sufficient access to digital education and after a year of pandemic there's still no solution for them", said Negrescu.
"If a child cannot connect, he's at risk of drop-out from the school. Unfortunately we're not prepared for the new wave of pandemic which could close schools and training institutions once again".
In the presentation of his report Negrescu invited education stakeholders to become active actors in the co-creation of the digital transformation of education, in order to take into account the different needs. "We keep on calling for a minimum allocation of 10% to education in the national recovery and resilience plans and the inclusion of digital education in the European Semester framework", he concluded.
More equality in access to digital education
MEPs stress that the digital transition in education “will not be possible without substantial investment”. By reminding that 20 % of the RRF funds have been earmarked for the digital transition, they urge the Member States to use that money for strengthening the digital capacity of education systems and especially in addressing the inequalities in the access to the education.
By recognizing the Commission’s Digital Education Action Plan for 2021-2027, they criticize the absence of measures targeting lower-skilled adult learners and older people, and recommend to work with national and local authorities to put measures in place to incentivise digital education for adults. Substantial funds must be invested to provide digital skill courses for teachers, they add.
National digital education plans should focus on improving digital proficiency for persons with disabilities, persons from vulnerable groups and people living in remote or rural areas.
They also remind that the digital skills gender gap is still 11% and call for measures to ensure gender equality.
Online “European Universities”
Finally, MEPs also call on the Commission and Member States to create an online version of “European Universities” initiative that would enable access to multilingual distance and online education programmes across Europe.
The EU Digital Education Action Plan (2021-2027), published October 2020, proposes a series on EU actions to make education and training systems fit for the digital age. It was preceded by an open public consultation that run from June to September 2020.