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The role of education in the digital era: from “digital natives” to “digital citizens”

Recommendation 2167 (2019)

Parliamentary Assembly
Text adopted by the Standing Committee, acting on behalf of the Assembly, on 29 November 2019 (see Doc. 15000, report of the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, rapporteur: Mr Constantinos Efstathiou).
1. Referring to its Resolution 2313 (2019) “The role of education in the digital era: from ‘digital natives’ to ‘digital citizens’”, the Parliamentary Assembly emphasises the role and value of education in today’s increasingly digitalised societies. As society modernises, school systems must undergo a substantial strategic rethinking of teaching and learning processes, content, learning spaces, partnerships and evaluation in the digital era. Modern education has not only the responsibility to live up to the fast-evolving labour market needs, providing the “digital natives” with the appropriate skills and competences, but it must also help them become responsible digital citizens. The Council of Europe has a major role to play in this.
2. The Assembly appreciates the instruments that the Council of Europe has put in place to promote safe, effective, critical and responsible participation of children and young people in modern society, notably the Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture and the Indicator Framework on Culture and Democracy. It further notes and values the Council of Europe Guidelines to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of the child in the digital environment in its promotion of children’s safety and educational, participative and other rights when online and using information and communication technologies (ICTs). The implementation of these instruments needs to be more widely promoted in member States and beyond.
3. The Assembly also values the tools and handbooks that have been issued within the framework of the Digital Citizenship Education project aiming to promote the acquisition, by all children, of the competences they need as digital citizens to participate actively and responsibly in a democratic society. There is, however, a pressing need to devise a proper policy framework and a digital citizenship education strategy.
4. International multistakeholder co-operation is key in the connected world. In this respect, the Assembly welcomes the co-operation of the Council of Europe with the private sector to develop a set of guidelines on partnerships between educational institutions and the private sector.
5. The Assembly warmly welcomes Recommendation CM/Rec(2019)10 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on developing and promoting digital citizenship education, which was adopted on 21 November 2019, and the Declaration on citizenship education in the digital era adopted by the Ministers of Education of the States Parties to the 1954 European Cultural Convention, meeting on 26 November 2019 in Paris. The Assembly encourages the Council of Europe to further work on digital developments that impact the education sector, exploring ways to eliminate digital exclusion and to face the new challenges posed by the use of artificial intelligence in education.
6. In this context, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
6.1 promote more widely the implementation of the Council of Europe Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture, in particular through targeted action within the “Free to speak, safe to learn – democratic schools for all” campaign, which would enable the creation of a network of democratic schools for sharing good practices, including activities promoting digital skills;
6.2 promote the implementation of the Council of Europe Guidelines to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of the child in the digital environment and ensure that the evaluation of the effectiveness of measures takes place as planned in 2023;
6.3 deliver model guidelines for governing partnerships between the educational institutions and the private sector, to create a rights-based, pedagogical and ethical framework and to harness the contributions the internet industry can make to the education of young people in schools;
6.4 explore the implications of the use of artificial intelligence in education, including adaptive learning, learning opportunities for children with special needs, enhancing inclusive education and educating young learners about artificial intelligence and other advanced digital technologies.