During COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of digital skills and online education has grown in precedence, as educational systems, companies and organisations rushed to go online. The shift to online schooling, accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis, requires not only appropriate connectivity to ensure digital education in remote and hybrid learning contexts but also basic digital competencies to ensure children’s safety and privacy online.
Seeking to explore the digital transformation of the education sector, GSMA Europe organised an online event with policymakers, educators, students, global partners and the ICT industry to discuss the future of online education in Europe.
- COVID-19 – Towards New Schooling Models by Marc Durando, European Schoolnet
- Building skills for an accelerated digital future by Zainab Hussain Siddiqui, Telenor
- The Future of Education by Audrey Scozzaro Ferrazzini, Qualcomm
- Digital Education initiatives by Amit Chakrabarti, Vodafone
Watch the Event Recording
0:00 – 0:33 min | Introduction and opening speeches:
- Daniel Pataki, VP for Policy & Regulation and Head of Europe, Russia and CIS, GSMA;
- Antoaneta Angelova-Krasteva, Director for Innovation, Digital Education and International Cooperation, DG EAC, European Commission;
- Marc Durando, Executive Director, European Schoolnet;
00:34 – 1:13 min | Presentations on online education and digital skills initiatives:
- Zainab Hussain Siddiqui, VP Sustainability, Telenor Group;
- Audrey Scozzaro Ferrazzini, Senior Director Government Affairs, Qualcomm;
- Amit Chakrabarti, Head of Vodafone Business Ventures;
1:13 min – the end | Panel discussion on the future of digital education in Europe and Q&A:
- Victor Negrescu, Member of the European Parliament (S&D/Romania);
- David Lega, Member of the European Parliament (EPP/Sweden);
- Michael Trucano, Senior Education & Technology Policy Specialist and Global Lead for Innovation in Education, World Bank;
- Antoaneta Angelova-Krasteva, European Commission;
- Dalia Doman, student from Estonia and member of Telia’s Children’s Advisory Panel;
- Dr. Janet Zaharieva, Chief Regulatory Adviser to the Board of Directors, Vivacom;
- Moderated by Albert Forn, Director for mSchools, GSMA;
The GSMA’s Daniel Pataki, VP of Policy & Regulation and Head of Europe, Russia and CIS, opened the event, noting the main issues of importance concerning online education and digital skills for the GSMA, such as encouraging more women to pursue STEM education & career paths and empowering the youth while reducing the digital divide.
Antoaneta Angelova-Krasteva, Director for Innovation, Digital Education and International Cooperation, DG EAC, European Commission, shared the Commission’s lessons learned from the crisis, such as the essential role of partnerships with the private sector, and explored the Commission’s role in supporting the education and training sectors. Notably, Antoaneta listed the measures proposed under the Digital Education Action Plan and called for the effective use of EU funds to support digital transformation. Marc Durando, Executive Director, European Schoolnet, provided a detailed analysis on the issues highlighted during the COVID-19 crisis and provided 10 reflections for the future, notably the importance of collecting lessons learned to define future school models. Marc concluded by noting the importance of continuing to leverage education technology in school systems even once the new “normal” is reached.
The event transitioned into presentations on ICT initiatives concerning remote education and digital skills, with Telenor’s VP for Sustainability, Zainab Hussain Siddiqui, covering the operator’s extensive work in educating 4 million children in online safety. Telenor’s Digiworld and Brukhue initiatives have leveraged connectivity to provide students with an online curriculum for building digital skills and an interactive school tour programme respectively. Audrey Scozzaro Ferrazzini, Senior Director for Government Affairs at Qualcomm, highlighted the company’s history of work in the education space, which services 20 million beneficiaries, and showcased its “Always On, Always Connected PC” offering. Amit Chakrabarti, Head of Vodafone Business Ventures, explored the MNO’s global digital education programmes, “Connected Education”, “Instant Networks in Africa” and “Advance digital skills and education in Europe”, and covered the key lessons learned from the three programmes, notably the importance of partnerships and public sector engagement and the centrality of people in technological solutions.
During the second phase of the event, Albert Forn, Director of mSchools at the GSMA, moderated a panel discussion with speakers representing the European institutions, international organisations and the education and ICT industries. Dalia Doman, a member of Telia’s Children Advisory Board a high school student from Estonia, noted the importance of employing democratic systems for youth participation, empowering youth decision-making and promoting the learning of participatory and leadership skills in order to ensure youth are heard and listened to by policymakers. Victor Negrescu, Member of the European Parliament and Vice-Chair of the CULT Committee, spoke on the importance co-designing digital education initiatives in a consistent format and ensuring supporting tools are available to the relevant stakeholders, particularly vulnerable groups, across Member States. David Lega, Member of the European Parliament and Member of the Sub-committee of Children’s Rights, highlighted the Parliament’s work in helping children feel safe in the online space, such as the upcoming EU strategy on the rights of the child (2021-24), while noting the necessity of working on concrete measures to manage and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on children. Michael Trucano, Senior Education & Technology Policy Specialist and Global Lead for Innovation in Education at the World Bank, argued that the shock to the education system posed by the COVID-19 crisis exposed existing fault lines and heightened existing inequalities while shifting discourse towards considering technology in education as a part of an education systems’ resilience. Antonaneta stressed the importance of safety as the EU builds access to digital education, which requires strategic dialogue on enabling factors for successful digital education while ensuring available digital infrastructure, equipment, online platforms and content. Dr. Janet Zaharieva, Chief Regulatory Adviser to the Board of Directors at Vivacom, shared the key takeaways of Vivacom’s Education 4.0 initiative, namely the need to stress to society that digital education is more than online/remote education and for digital upskilling to start from teachers.
The event video and slides are now available.
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