Respond to the suggestion of the European Commission for ‘active involvement of the Committee of the Regions and local authorities’ in the implementation of high-performing digital education ecosystem and fostering digital skills and competences for the digital transformation;
Consider possible association of the CoR in the strategic dialogue between the European Commission and the EU Member States with a view to preparing a proposal for a Council Recommendation on the enabling factors for successful digital education by 2022;
Propose in this context an approach to the future CoR role in strengthening cooperation and exchange in digital education at EU level, either the involvement of the CoR in the future Digital Education Hub at the European level or possibly even exploring the idea for a digital skills alliance initiated by the CoR, supported by the European Parliament, cooperating with the European Commission and involving a range of key stakeholders;
Carry forward the key messages of previous CoR opinions on the requirements for the EU policy to foster both high level specialised digital skills in the regions and the general literacy of the citizens as a precondition both for human development and democracy and economic development and cohesion;
Insist on the local and regional contribution towards regulating the safety and ethics of the use of new technologies in education, especially in the area of artificial intelligence and data protection;
Take a position on adequacy of available EU funds, policy programmes and support mechanisms for making education and training systems fit for the digital age at the local and regional level;
Address outstanding issues of equal access to education in the context of digitalisation.
The rapporteur was a keynote speaker along with the Commissioner and the EP rapporteur during the EP CULT Public Hearing “The education package: aims, challenges and prospects for success” 2 December 2020 and featured in the reports on the same in severl media, including the EP CULT Dec 2020 newsletter which has given prominence to the following political messages of the CoR: the CoR rapporteur called for a major investment in training for newly-qualified and established teachers, increased connectivity across the EU and listening to students’ voices in policy-making. The EU Digital Education Hub could help co- ordinate training across the Member States, sharing best practice and resources and creating economies of scale. These ideas were echoed and supported by a broad array of speakers during the hearing.
As a follow-up to the adoption of the CoR opinion on the Digital Education Plan (2021-2027) the DG EAC of the European Commission has signalled willingness, on 10 June 2021, to discuss the Committee of the Regions’ role in the implementation of the Action Plan. The DG EAC representatives have stressed that the Committee of the Regions was considered an important stakeholder for digital education policy and in view of the Joint Action Plan between the Committee of the Regions, DG EAC, JRC and RTD. This action plan has been politically endorsed by the Commissioner Mariya-Gabriel, who has expressed her interest to further explore the role of the regions in digital education. The DG EAC has proposed the organization of a possible event on the topic between DG EAC and SEDEC after the summer.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- emphasises the importance of the concept of digital cohesion, as outlined in the Digital Europe for All opinion. This is a necessary step in order to address societal challenges in light of ever-growing digitalisation needs, while making sure not to leave any person or region behind;
- calls on the European Commission and the Member States to use the Recovery and Resilience Facility and the European Social Fund to ensure that funding reduces the digital divide through targeted investments in those regions that face demographic challenges;
- calls for direct public funding aimed at the development of new teaching models and promoting 21st century skills at all education levels, from school to university, as well as at further simplifying the structure of EU funding programmes;
- calls on the Commission, through the Erasmus+, Horizon Europe, and InvestEU programmes to support the creation of pan-European platforms for the broad dissemination of educational content and tools in an inclusive and multilingual way, taking into account regional languages;
- suggests that teacher training models across the European Union become more aligned through enhanced co-operation among our universities and among continuing teacher training centres, and urges for the creation of physical "hubs" in university cities so that teachers across the education system can avail of in-service and quality continuing professional development;
- advocates that the European Digital Education Content Framework have its own technology incubator to create content which is standardised according to the Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) and of high quality, in line with the Open Education Resources (OER) model, and support teachers and other professionals in the creation of content, study programmes and resources in line with the above criteria.