Future of European education in the context of COVID-19

    In an explanation of vote on a resolution dealing with the future of European education in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, I told the plenary session of the European Parliament that the pandemic has caused a disruption in education systems, exposing an entire generation of young people to huge discontinuities in their learning experience.

    The ongoing digital transition in education was accelerated more than existing infrastructures were ready for.

    Online classes have confirmed a digital divide among students, related to differences in access to digital devices, the quality of online teaching, unequal personal capacities to learn alone on a computer, and the class divide.

    Reports stress that the too rapid switch to digital educational processes occurred in a context where 43 percent of Europeans still lacked basic digital skills. The digital education gap has exacerbated existing inequalities.

    There is an opportunity to rethink the future of education but it has to be coupled to the priority of addressing the digital education gap. The European Council’s decision to slash flagship education programmes in the next long-term EU budget undercuts both opportunity and priority.

    Moreover, the educational needs of remote and rural areas need to be given greater attention.

    Finally, efforts should concentrate on ensuring that in-person learning can resume in a COVID-19-secure environment, in balance with ongoing online instruction, according to the latest best practice guidelines.