There is no tomorrow without digital knowledge and skills to use technology - minister

  • 2023-12-15
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Without digital knowledge and skills to use technologies and technological tools, tomorrow is no longer possible, Education and Science Minister Anda Caksa (New Unity) stressed on Thursday at the launch of the UNESCO Global Monitoring Report on Education "Technologies in Education".

She stressed that the report on technology in education is right in time. It raises many controversial issues. In the minister's view, it is clear that the digitization of education today is not just a story about the evolution of technology, but to a large extent also about the possibility of making education more accessible, more inclusive.

According to Caksa, it also brings fears about whether we are safe, whether we are able to talk about all the risks and whether we have prepared children and young people to navigate well and act ethically with all the digital tools. It also makes us wonder whether governance and legislation on digital standards, human rights and ethics are in place. It also raises questions of cost and usability.

"If we look at our digital skills, the focus should remain on ensuring that our educators are equipped to handle digital tools in their teaching and know how to integrate them well into their teaching. It is always about quality education and supporting both teachers and young people to learn, acquire and develop their best skills with a variety of digital tools, understanding that not everyone has the same opportunities," said the minister.

"We have to understand that what we do with children today is their future. We need to teach children the basic skills to understand tools, to respect ethical norms and human rights principles, and to be developers themselves and to manage their own skills with different digital tools," said the minister.

At the opening event, Baiba Molnika, Secretary-General of the Latvian National Commission for UNESCO, said that from now until 2030, at least one child must be enrolled in school every two seconds in order to get out-of-school children back into school worldwide. This is one of the most alarming findings of the report, she said, as the number of out-of-school children reaches 250 million.

According to Molnika, taking into account armed conflicts, the figure could be much higher. She stressed that this reminder is timely, halfway to the 2030 target that all UN Member States have decided to reach.

She noted that the thematic part of the report this time focuses on technology and how it relates to the quality of education offered to all age groups. The report draws on profiles of 200 countries, including Latvia, in relation to technology and calls for an extended debate, where on the one hand it is necessary to think how Latvia, as a member of the European Union, can contribute with its expertise and experience in certain areas.

"Tava Klase (Your Classroom) distance learning program developed during the Covid-19 pandemic was highly appreciated and accepted, and we have held several events at UNESCO where we have shown our experience in the field of digitization. At the same time, the trends shown in the report, for example in adult education, show that only 5 percent of adults are able to set up their own program. The shortage of teachers in STEM and the increasing violence in cyberspace apply equally to all countries, regardless of their level of development," stressed Molnika.