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January 2004 - ECDL Foundation launches equalSkills

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The European Computer Driving Licence Foundation Ltd. (ECDL-F) today announced the unveiling of equalskills, an entry-level end-user computer skills certification programme aimed at complete beginners. The equalskills programme, which was developed in Ireland, will now become part of the expanding range of ECDL-F end-user computer skills certification products available worldwide.

The launch of equalskills marks a significant expansion in the ECDL-F range of end-user computer skills certification offerings by making available an international entry-level certification programme for complete novices. With its launch today, equalskills becomes the entry-level programme within the ECDL range of product offerings.

The core programme in the Foundation’s range, the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL), is recognised as the global benchmark for end-user computer skills certification. The ECDL programme is recommended and adopted by governments, global organisations and commercial bodies alike. Such is the international acceptance of the quality and standard of the ECDL that it is currently available in over 135 countries.

With the reputation and credentials of the ECDL behind it, the equalskills programme has been designed to provide a fun, informal and non-threatening introduction to computers and the Internet for complete novices. David Carpenter, CEO, ECDL Foundation said today “The launch of equalskills is an important step in furthering the Foundation’s core objective of facilitating access for all to the Information Society. By expanding the range of programme offerings to include entry-level certification the ECDL-F now has the broadest range of end-user computer skills certification programmes in the world. The ECDL-F is committed to raising the standards of computer skills in society and we are actively inclusive in our approach. In order to be as inclusive as possible we recognised that it was necessary to provide for the needs of those with no experience whatsoever of computers and the Internet and for whom technology may be intimidating. By developing a programme at this level we are providing access to everyday technology for a previously-excluded group in society and thus making an important contribution to bridging the digital divide.”

The launch of equalskills marks the culmination of over two years of development and piloting. Equalskills, which was part-funded by the Irish government, was developed in conjunction with ICS SKILLS, the Irish National Operator  responsible for ECDL certification programmes. It was piloted in Ireland and the UK during 2001 and 2002, following which the programme was extended and further enhanced.

Nina Svedberg, ECDL Foundation Head of Product Development, said today, “The equalskills programme has been developed specifically to address the needs of all those who are afraid of computers or feel that technology has left them behind for whatever reason. The aim of equalskills is to give Candidates an appreciation and understanding of computers and the Internet and to build their confidence so that they are encouraged to further explore and upgrade their skills in this area. Equalskills provides a friendly, fun and simple initiation into computer and Internet use, which can, in turn, lead Candidates on to more advanced programmes and eventually to full participation in the e-Society. ”

The equalskills initiative pilot was launched in Ireland by An Taoiseach, Mr Bertie Ahern in September, 2001. The pilot ran in six counties in the south-west of Ireland and by the end of 2002 there were 80,000 Candidates in that area participating in the equalskills programme. The programme was further piloted in the UK during 2002. Following on from that the programme was evaluated and enhanced based on the feedback of the pilots. The result of that process is a certification programme that effectively meets the needs of those seeking a non-threatening introduction to computer-use, regardless of status, education, age, ability or understanding.

Equalskills has been designed as a fully multi-lingual programme and has already been localised into Punjabi, Urdu, Gujerati, Portuguese and Greek, with plans for further localisation into a number of languages over the next twelve months. Equalskills will now become available through the international network of ECDL National Operators, making it potentially available in over 135 countries around the world.

For more information please contact:
Marketing Department of the ECDL Foundation
Tel: + 3531 630 6000