The “Forgotten” of digitalisation

The European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) organized their event, titled “The Forgotten of Digitalisation,” during the LLLWeek of 2022 in Brussels.

The LLLWeek is a celebration of lifelong learning and the many benefits it can provide. It is a milestone in the European education agenda and has been supported by civil society actors and Members of the European Parliament. The aim is to bring together learners and educators, field workers and policy-makers, researchers and political representatives, and give them the opportunity to discuss the greatest challenges facing adult education today. This year, it took place between Monday, the 28th of November and Friday, the 2nd of December 2022. 

The event gathered together representatives from different adult education sectors with various professional backgrounds to discuss the EU objectives for digital transition. The concept of the event was that the EU’s ambitious goals for digital literacy by 2025 are possible to achieve. Who are the forgotten populations in the digital age, and what can be done to help them? A recent survey by Lire et Ecrire found that adults who struggle with reading and writing in Belgium are particularly at risk of being left out of society; the increasing digitalisation of public services makes it even more difficult for them to participate. During the event, we explored powerful advocacy campaigns and inclusive teaching practices that bring forward the voices of those who tend to be left behind.

Gina Ebner, Secretary General of the European Association for the Education of Adults, welcomed the participants to the event and asked them about their digital usage and skill levels. The main objectives of the organisation were presented, as well as a brief summary of the work that is being done surrounding digitalisation and basic skills. She handed the word to the panel of experts, representing different levels of adult education.

At the beginning of the presentations, Veronique De Leener discussed the digital methodologies used by Maks vzw in Brussels, Belgium, that aim to empower (young) adults. They mainly work with digital storytelling and digital design for change in marginalised neighbourhoods of the European capital. They test the basic digital literacy with the help of Tosa test, which provides a certificate that the learners are able to use in their CV’s. With the help of digital production, they are able to work on their fears, wellbeing and advancement in life. The programme provides them a structure to improve digital inclusion, self-esteem and makes their voices heard. The learners also receive help to recognise the dangers of digital environment and prevent them.

Moving forward, Louise Culot presented the work of Lire et Écrire, a literacy provider active in Brussels and Wallonia (French-speaking region of Belgium). Their mission is to transform, train and advocate, as 46% of Belgian are digitally vulnerable and 70% of people with literacy needs do not master basic digital skills. She presented practical examples of their day to day practices and their priorities: to solve inclusion and accessibility issues, train basic skills and keep efficient human desks. 

Last, but not least, we were joined by Jon Harding, who presented the work that the Lifelong Learning Platform does when it comes to the digital skills gap, with their Digital Education Action Plan as the main instrument that they developed. They use a comprehensive approach to reduce inequalities, which firstly tackles barriers and secondly, enables opportunities for learners that face this. The upcoming EU Year of Skills, he said,  will be particularly relevant to boost the Digital Transition. But being rooted in a labour market perspective, it risks leaving behind those that are already struggling. 

To close the event and initiate the networking session, Tina Mavrič presented the outcomes of Guidance for Low-skilled Adults towards Skills Assessment and Validation (GLAS). The main aim of it was to develop methodology for assessment and validation of ICT, numeracy and language skills for adult education and guidance service practitioners. The main objectives were to improve skills identification and validation in Europe and thus help adults access and complete upskilling pathways and to increase professional competences of adult education and guidance professionals.

To learn more about the project, please visit the projects’ website.

Text: Tina Mavrič Photos: Andrea Lapegna

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