Digital skills should be introduced as early as the 1st cycle of education, argues the researcher at the University of Porto Sofia Marques Silva, stressing that digital inclusion cannot be seen as a luxury.
“[A introdução às tecnologias da informação] it must be earlier, precisely because we need to prepare children and young people for the professions of the future that will have a lot of this technological dimension “, says the professor and researcher at the Center for Educational Research and Intervention at the University of Porto.
For Sofia Marques Silva, this intervention should also be done not in isolation, but linked to the humanities and social sciences, in order to ensure that young people can “make conscious readings” of the use of computers and the internet.
In schools, “many times, this entry into the digital world has been resisting a little and with consequences in the way we are educating young people for this reality”, emphasizes the former coordinator of the inclusion axis between 2017 and 2019 at INCoDe. 2030 – National Digital Skills Initiative.
In a moment of digitalization of society and the economy, the specialist warns that digital inclusion cannot be seen as a luxury.
“Accessing digital is not a luxury, it is the least we have to do. It cannot be just a ‘smart city’, but a country, in its entirety, in its diversity, which is also intelligent, intelligent because it is able to include in its policies, concerns about the inequalities that we know exist and that the pandemic has accentuated “, he concludes.
Sofia Marques Silva stresses the importance of resolving the socio-economic barriers to digital inclusion for all young people, considering, for example, computers as essential goods.
“It is essential to ensure that the younger strata with the most economic difficulties have access to these tools. [..] This has an impact on the way we participate in social life, in political life, in civic life. When today many of the forms of participation are in the digital world, to be left behind is also to stay away from a social dialogue “, he says.
In addition to working with children and young people, Sofia Marques Silva stresses the need to resolve structural obstacles, such as the lack of internet coverage in some areas of the country, but also working with populations with low levels of digital literacy.
The researcher notes that the majority of digital inclusion efforts have been made in a timely manner and at a local level, requiring intervention with a national and continuous dimension.
“It cannot be five minutes or a day or an afternoon. Something is needed, with the involvement of multidisciplinary teams”, he says, warning that there are costs for the State for having “people excluded from the digital world”.
The digital transition was defined as one of the lines of action of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU), which proposes to give priority to initiatives that contribute to accelerating this transition as an engine of economic recovery and promoting European leadership in innovation and the economy digital.
The presidency’s program points in particular to the development of digital skills with a view to adapting workers to new production processes, the digital transformation of companies and digital platforms, health promotion and disease prevention and lifelong education and training.