A study by the Vodafone Foundation reveals the digital divide in education in Europe

European teachers call for a European standard on digital education to meet government expectations and deliver quality digital education to students

Many European teachers said they lacked the confidence and experience to use technology in their teaching and risked increased work stress as a result, a new international report from the Vodafone Foundation has revealed. A survey of 3,000 teachers in eleven European countries reveals a significant digital divide in education across the continent, with teachers backing the need for training opportunities and supporting policy makers accordingly.

The 21st Century Teachers report shows how societal and technological demands are transforming education in Europe and where teachers need support to survive and thrive in a technology-dominated world.

Teachers unprepared to use technology

Despite the global shift to digital learning amid school closures during the pandemic, today’s research reveals that a major disparity has emerged among the digital skills of European teachers.

  • 20% of teachers surveyed say they have little or no experience in using digital technology for teaching.
  • 48% feel increased stress at work due to the lack of digital integration in their teaching,
  • 42% feel they quickly reach their limits when using technology.
  • In contrast, 48% of teachers report using a variety of digital technologies with their students

The study shows that leaders and experts in digital education are more numerous in the southern European countries of Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy, as well as in Hungary, than in The other countries. Teachers with less digital skills are found in Turkey, Germany, Albania, Romania and the Netherlands.

Requests for a uniform European standard

Today’s research also highlights an opportunity for governments to close the gap identified by teachers in digital education and digital skills.

  • 78% of teachers think that more is expected of schools and teachers from their government when it comes to digital education than can actually be achieved.
  • 72% believe that educational policy measures are not sufficient to prepare students for future labor markets,
  • 75% of teachers say there should be uniform European policies and standards for digital education.

Joakim Reiter, Director of External and Corporate Affairs, Vodafone Group, said:

“While it is alarming to see so many teachers across Europe struggling to keep up with the race to accelerate digital education, I am heartened by their eagerness to support education reform at European scale. As 2023 is designated as the European Year of Skills, if we are to see the next generation of young people empowered and thriving in an increasingly complex and increasingly digital world of the 21st century, it is essential that we seriously consider the support, training and tools needed to prepare schools and teachers for success.

The Vodafone Foundation’s mission through SkillsUpload Europe is to empower everyone with the skills, confidence and know-how to thrive in a thriving digital society. The program works in 14 European countries and focuses on primary and secondary school students, adults who are not in school, employment or training and older people. Through locally targeted and tailored learning initiatives as well as partnerships with communities, educators, NGOs and governments, SkillsUpload Europe aims to bring about lasting systemic change in the way people learn to use technologies in their personal, professional and academic life.

Methodology

The survey was conducted by Ipsos Germany in 11 countries: Albania, Germany, UK, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Turkey. The target groups included primary school teachers, lower secondary teachers and upper secondary teachers. A total of 3,082 teachers were interviewed during the field period from May 4 to June 16, 2022.

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Helen D. Jessen