Digital education: the company joins a wave of transformation
The current Covid-19 pandemic has brought about an urgent task by returning 600 million children to their homes and revealing different gaps in the field of digital education such as Internet access, the absence of devices and the absence of basic digital skills.
Fundación MAPFRE, committed to education and child protection, recently participated in the Bureau of Enterprise and Cooperation in Digital Education, a pioneering initiative in Spain promoted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to claim “education as one of the most powerful assets for confronting COVID-19, overcoming the digital divide and advancing sustainable progress.” It is committed to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 of Agenda 2030, the aim of which is to guarantee inclusive, equitable and quality education and to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, at a particularly critical time.
Julio Domingo, General Manager of Fundación MAPFRE, participated in the meeting, highlighting the commitment of the company, which is present in 25 countries, to a program with the aim of eradicating poverty in Latin America through education. This program provided schooling and food for up to 105,000 children in particularly disadvantaged places in Latin America during 2020. “Digitization is the next step,” said Domingo, who indicated that the Foundation will be very attentive to the work of the cooperation table.
Six hundred million children at home
Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Ángeles Moreno, opened the meeting, acknowledging that “everyone has taken a step forward in the field of digitization. We were making good headway and then the wave hit. 600 million children have been kept at home, studying remotely, for those most fortunate. Many have been able to return to schools, while others are still unable.”
UNICEF estimates that 15 million children will never return to the classroom. According to UNICEF, young people believe that funds for education are insufficient (43 percent) and of poor quality (17 percent), with insurmountable barriers that prevent them from opting for a better future. In addition, 75 percent have limited Internet access, mainly due to connection costs (38 percent), a lack of resources for acquiring Internet-enabled devices (29 percent) and a lack of electricity (40 percent).
“It’s a major problem, because not being in the classroom represents a serious social setback. In this age, digital skills are needed to improve literacy,” said Ángeles Moreno, who pointed to the reorientation of Spanish cooperation funds, following the pandemic, in order to support those most vulnerable communities—especially minors. The European Union (EU) is launching a new fund which will bring together all existing third-party support funds, with an allocation of 80 billion euros.
There are gaps that need to be addressed. According to estimates, children are living without access to the Internet in 800,000 Spanish households. Basic digital skills represent another gap, where only 43 percent of people have these skills. This represents a serious concern, even beyond basic education, as it prevents social progression, explained Carmen Artigas, Secretary of State for Digital Transformation and Artificial Intelligence.
Spain risks not being able to meet the demand for digital employment due to a lack of professionals with the up-to-date training. Upskilling and reskilling are vital for professionals to get the most out of their current positions and new roles further down the line. In order to meet the objective of expanding basic digital literacy to 80 percent of the population by 2025, companies will play a significant role.
Finally, the gap affects digitization throughout the education system.
Together with Fundación MAPFRE, ProFruturo, Hispasat, Fundación Orange, Fundación Vodafone, Microsoft, Ibérica, Escudo Web, Grupo Mondragón, McGraw Hill, OTBInnova, Planeta, Santillana, SM, Rubio, ISDI, Grupo-AE, Didactalia, Siemens-Gamesa, Fundación BBVA and Santander Universities, Anaya, BBVA and Coverwallet participated in this forum.
Road safety and changes in mobility
Fundación MAPFRE’s contribution incorporates quality and inclusive education into those areas related to its field of activity: social action, health and healthy habits, finance and insurance, culture, as well as road safety and accident prevention. A recent report –coinciding with UNESCO International Day– by Fundación MAPFRE, the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) and the Flemish Traffic Awareness Foundation (VSV) shows that the road-safety education of many minors across Europe has been impacted by the pandemic. The result of school closures and the inability of students to acquire the skills needed to ride a bicycle safely. Given the unprecedented situation, educational materials on road safety and mobility have increasingly been digitized and new digital platforms have been set up. However, experts have highlighted the need for road safety education to evolve in order to reflect the changes in mobility around the world, which have been accelerated by the pandemic. These changes include walking or cycling to schools in many places around the world.
Balance or a balancing act? The challenge of ensuring comprehensive education in the context of a pandemic: