Romania ranks last in Europe in basic general digital skills among young people
In 2019, four out of five young people aged between 16 and 24 years old (80%) in the European Union had basic digital skills levels or above basic. Among EU Member States, Croatia (97%) has the largest share of basic general digital skills among young people, followed by Estonia, Lithuania and the Netherlands (all three 93%), but also Greece (92%). On the other hand, the lowest shares were observed in Romania (56%), Bulgaria (58%), Italy (65%), Hungary (68%), Latvia and Luxembourg (both 75%).
This was the context in which, the Covid-19 pandemic found the Romanian educational system, when education was forced to move, from one day to the next, to a form of distance, online learning.
For this reason, the UiPath Foundation and Brio®, the standardized digital testing platform addressed to Romanian students, started working on the development of the first digital literacy assessment test in Romania.
The tool is addressing students from I to XII grade, will be provided free of charge on the brio.ro platform and will be developed in accordance with the regulations contained in the European Framework for the Digital Competence assessment issued by the European Commission. It will include test items for all levels of difficulty and will correlate the digital skills that each child should own, with each age level.
“In an effort to test the digital skills of children from vulnerable families we work with since 2019 in six areas of Romania, we found that there is no standardized tool for properly assessing these skills among students, depending on age and class, aligned to the European Framework for Digital Competences. We have joined forces with Brio® to build a digital tool that will be accessible, free of charge, to over 2.8 million students in Romania. This online testing environment will allow us to build, at a systemic level, models of individualized educational intervention, depending on the level of digital skills of each student. We, at UiPath Foundation, will continue efforts to support the access to quality education for children from vulnerable families and to make this tool visible and accessible in the areas where we intervene, as well as in other disadvantaged communities across the country,” says Raluca Negulescu-Balaci , Director Executiv, UiPath Foundation.
Despite the low level of digital skills, in compulsory education Romania has the highest number of hours allocated to digital competence as a separate compulsory subject in upper secondary education. At the same time, Romania has the best results in the Connectivity dimension, due to the high use of very high-speed broadband and the wide availability of very high-capacity fixed networks, especially in urban areas.
The lack of digital literacy in Romania could, thus, be said that is not determined by the lack of access to information or tools, but by the low interest and poor training among all actors involved in the educational process.
“The need for digital literacy in all levels of Romanian society is becoming more and more obvious, and the school is the place where these skills can be created. That is why I am glad that together with the UiPath Foundation we will launch and widely apply the first serious diagnostic tool for digital literacy among Romanian students. Starting from here, having an extensive analysis of children’s digital skills, we can create the basis for a dialogue with the authorities to draw up intervention plans to recover the absolutely obvious gaps between the Romanian children’s average and the European average,” says Dragoș Iliescu, CEO, Chief Scientist și fondator Brio®.
The Romanian education system operates with the eight key European competences, digital competence being one of them. Digital competence involves the confident, critical and responsible use of digital technologies in contexts of learning, work and participation in social activities. It includes digital literacy, communication and collaboration, media literacy, digital content creation (including programming), security (including well-being / comfort in the online environment, and cybersecurity skills), intellectual property enforcement, problem solving, and critical thinking.
Digital education means training the digital skills of students and teachers, on the one hand, and using technologies for pedagogical purposes to support, improve and transform learning and teaching, on the other.
4 out of 10 adults in Europe have deficiencies in basic digital skills
According to the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), 4 out of 10 adults and a third of European employees do not have basic digital skills. The digitalization of education contributes, by leaps and bounds, to the digitalization of the society and implicitly to the approved use, on a much larger scale, of digital services. The European Commission’s strategy on digitization envisages that 70% of European adults will have a basic level of digital skills by 2025. At the same time, it aims to reduce the level of low performance among young people aged 13-14 from 30% (how much it was in 2019), to 15% by 2030.
Europe is facing a shortage of digital experts who can develop cutting-edge technologies for the benefit of all citizens. Over 70% of companies said that the lack of staff with adequate digital skills is an obstacle to investment. A strong digital economy supported by people with digital skills is vital for innovation, development, new jobs and competitiveness. The penetration of digital technologies has a massive impact on the labor market and the type of skills needed in society and for the development of the economy.