On 10 December 2020, members of the BOOST consortium attended the “Third European Education Summit: Digital Education Transformation”. The aim of this conference was to analyze the transformation of the education system due to the sudden introduction of online education. As guests of the European Commission, many institution’s representatives, a large group of experts, and different stakeholders took part in this dissemination. The result of the discussion was a share of ideas, best practices, and innovations to make the education system more flexible and ready to tackle any kind of crisis.
The inclusiveness of the European education and training system was one of the most debated points. As said by both the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Commissioner for Promoting our European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas, the COVID-19 pandemic has deepened the inequalities between richer and poorer children. Online learning was one of the solutions for the time of crises but introduced the EU Member States to various challenges. First of all, not all the teachers were prepared enough and many of them didn’t have the right skills to provide their students with high-quality online education. Secondly, not all children have the same devices, internet connection, and resources. The result was that disadvantaged children were left behind.
In this context, the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel presented the Education Package which covers two flagship initiatives. First of all, the Communication for the European Education Area by 2025. With this initiative, the European Commission will propose new and ambitious measures to help the Member States to make their education and training systems more inclusive, green and digital. The second element is the Digital Education Action Plan. This initiative has two long-term strategic priorities. The first one is to foster the development of a high-performing digital education ecosystem. The second one is to enhance digital competencies for a better digital transformation
During the panel debate “Blended learning: The new normal for teachers”, Student Representative of the Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions Lucija Karnelutti underlined that during the first lockdown many students faced mental health-related problems such as anxiety and stress. The starting point of these feelings can be found both in a general uncertainty due to the pandemic and in the expectations on students’ results. Mrs Karnelutti stated that long-term national curricula based on mental health support and emotional and social learning are necessary to create an education system more focused on the students’ needs.
The BOOST project is moving in this direction by helping schools in three different countries (Poland, Spain and Norway) in creating efficient, usable and sustainable SEL- based learning programs. Boosting students’ mental health resilience and help them develop social and emotional skills is necessary to make them stronger and securer adults. The BOOST consortium is taking into account the consequences of the pandemic and will try to explore how to implement SEL-based learning in online environments as well. As a consortium, we are looking forward to learning more about the Education Package and the future of online schooling. We are hopeful that the BOOST approach and SEL-based learning can contribute to this specific matter. Take a look at our policy brief, issued in November 2020 here.