Council Conclusions on well-being in digital education
The Council has agreed on a common position on supporting well-being in digital education. The conclusions it approved today identify three factors which are instrumental in contributing to learners’ and educators’ well-being
• acquiring the necessary knowledge, skills and competences
• designing teaching and learning approaches and digital environments that enhance well-being
• interpersonal relations in the digital education ecosystem
Digital technologies have reshaped our approach to education and become an integral part of everyday school life. We must continue to develop the school environment in which students and teachers feel well, safe, secure and are able to recognise the risks associated with the use of digital means. It is primordial that throughout the EU we use these technologies in a way that they enhance the well-being of everyone – from pupil to teacher – involved in education and training.
Opportunities and challenges
Digital education comes with both opportunities and challenges for the well-being of learners and educators. Downsides, such as cyberbullying, can negatively impact well-being. Well-designed digital education ecosystems that are effective and inclusive can promote the development of learners’ well-being and improve their educational, life and work prospects.
Ministers also recognise that the digital divide poses a threat to well-being in digital education and training and risks reinforcing existing inequalities and creating new ones. A pre-COVID-19 survey from 2019 shows that a quarter of low-income households have no access to computers and broadband. School systems should therefore tackle the problem of insufficient access, inadequate equipment or unsatisfactory learning conditions.
What member states can do
The conclusions call on member states to strengthen learners’ and educators’ well-being when designing national policies and strategies in digital education and to enhance their awareness of the need to balance on-screen and off-screen time well. Member states should also support schools in developing appropriate time management as regards digital and face-to-face teaching and learning activities.
Other actions recommended at national level include supporting learners’ awareness of the potential threats in the digital world and the development of their resilience in order to reduce the risks and offering safe online opportunities for young people.
Council Recommendation on pathways to school success
The EU ministers of education agreed on measures to reduce the share of those leaving education and training early and to bring down under-achieving in reading, mathematics and science. A recommendation on pathways to school success calls on member states to develop strategies towards school success and to minimise the effects of socio-economic status on education and training outcomes.
School and education are the fundament of success and fulfilment in life. This is why we cannot afford if our children drop out of school early or finish training and education without proficiency in basic skills. Well-being is a key lever to bring early school leaving down and to up children’s knowledge in reading, math and science, says Vladimír Balaš, Czech Minister of Education, Youth and Sport .
The European school systems have faced challenging situations in recent years, including the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, more than 3.2 million young people in the in the EU aged 18-24 are early leavers from education and training, and only 84.3% of 20-24-year-olds have completed upper secondary education. The latest PISA results from before the pandemic (2018) already revealed that one in five 15-year-old Europeans had lacked adequate reading, math, or science competences. PISA results also showed that pupil’s sense of belonging at school was declining and that bullying as well as cyberbullying were widespread. Since then, the closure of schools and universities due to the pandemic has contributed to significant learning losses for pupils and students. Evidence shows that pupils with disadvantaged socio-economic background bear the highest risk of facing such problems.
Improvement in early leaving rate
The recommendation adopted today replaces a 2011 Council recommendation on policies to reduce early school leaving. Since 2010, the rate of early leavers has decreased by 3.9 percentage points. However, at 9.7 % in 2021 across the EU on average the share is still above the EU’s 9% objective. According to the Education and Training Monitor 2021, the underachievement rate stands at 22.5% in reading, 22.9% in mathematics and 22.3% in science.
Well-being as key to school success
As research highlights that emotional, social and physical well-being in school is important to enhance children and young people’s chances of succeeding in education and in life, the recommendation wants member states to pay special attention to well-being at school. The importance of addressing well-being as a booster of school success has only increased as the COVID-19 pandemic has had detrimental effects on learners’ mental health and well-being in general.
Prevention, intervention and compensation
The recommendation focusses on learners on the one hand but also teachers, trainers and school staff. It suggests to combine prevention, intervention and compensation measures. Compensation measures are aimed at re-engaging people who have dropped out of education, for instance by strengthening career guidance and counselling.