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Global Study of School Students’ Digital Skills Shows Major Shortfalls

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17% of students, on average, don’t meet the lowest level for computer and information literacy in the latest edition of the International Computer and Information Literacy Study (ICILS). The study, released in November, assessed the skills of 60,000 school students from over 3,300 schools in 21 education systems around the world. When only EU countries in the study are considered, 25% of students demonstrated low skills.

The report highlights the need to tackle digital skill shortages through the education system, saying, “Regardless of whether or not we consider young people to be digital natives, we would be naïve to expect them to develop [computer and information literacy] in the absence of coherent learning programs.”

The European Commission has responded to the report, acknowledging that “many ‘digital natives’ are not digitally competent” and stating that “targeted professional development is needed to equip teachers” to use ICT effectively. The Commission’s response goes on to state, “With a shaky foundation already at a young age, there is a risk that Europe will face severe shortages of skilled citizens in the digital age, thereby hampering growth and effectiveness.”

The ICILS report is available from the website of the IEA, while the European Commission’s response can be downloaded from the library section of their website.