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Digital skills for Europe’s future: it’s time to act

05 May 2021Viewpoint

By Joakim Reiter, Chief External and Corporate Affairs Officer

Only 9% of students in Europe reach a sufficient level of reading proficiency to distinguish facts from opinions, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). An alarming statistic – particularly when concerning a skill that can be the difference between trusting potentially harmful sources or making an informed choice not to.

Data from the latest PISA-report, 21st Century Readers: Developing literacy skills in a digital world, co-funded by the Vodafone Germany Foundation, reveals that only half (54%) of 15-year-olds across OECD countries have been taught at school how to recognise biased information. Socioeconomically disadvantaged students are up to 20% less likely to have received such training.

We have a responsibility to prepare younger generations – the future builders of a digitally autonomous, green and economically strong Europe – for life in the digital world.

Digital skills future

Digital skills training has a critical role to play in reinforcing Europe’s resilience and helping the EU achieve its Digital Decade ambitions, as highlighted by the European Commission.  If we are to meet the target of at least 80% of all adults having basic digital skills by 2030, we must act now.

Digital Education has the potential to drive social inclusion

At Vodafone, we are helping build a digital society that leaves no one behind – where technology creates opportunities for all, regardless of their location or the social groups they belong to. Our connectivity enables students to participate in digital education. Our products and services help address social needs, empower marginalised groups and create a more equal society. At the same time, Vodafone Foundation is working to ensure people of all ages have the skills and confidence they need to thrive in a digital society.

Digital education must be built on cross-sector collaboration

Successful and inclusive digital education ecosystems are built on collaboration between policy makers, education institutions, civil society and businesses. The last year has shown that we all can work with speed and cooperation to great effect. Now we must normalise the spirit of cooperation that we have created in the crisis of 2020. The Digital Education Action Plan (DEAP) provides us with a blueprint along which we can all contribute our strengths.

Digital education progress must be monitored transparently

We need clear and transparent accountability to monitor the progress in digitising education across Europe. We should reinforce the way progress is benchmarked and monitored via national digital education plans and Recovery & Resilience funding spending on education.

We welcome the recent recommendation by the European Parliament that at least 10% of Recovery & Resilience funding is spent on education, including Digital Skills, as a first step.

Now is the time to work together to provide the best education we can offer to the next generation.

Learn more about how Vodafone is helping improve digital skills for students and teachers
  • SDGs
  • Viewpoint
  • Vodafone Foundation
  • Digital skills & Education
  • Digital Society
  • Europe
  • Inclusion
  • SDG 4
  • SDG 10