Social dialogue in the education sector - part 1

On 6th -8th July 2018 a meeting of the EZA Education Platform took place in Wieliczka, Poland. The meeting was dedicated to the challenges of the omnipresent digitalization to the education systems. The working group was organized by KK NSZZ "Solidarność" (Komisja Krajowa NSZZ "Solidarność"), with the support of EZA and of the European Union. 15 representatives of workers’ orgnisation from Poland, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania participated in the working group. The purpose of the working group was to discuss and exchange experience on challenges to the school, the teaching and the teachers in the era of an ubiquitous digitalization.

The meeting was opened by Elżbieta Wielg, head of the European Programmes Department of NSZZ „Solidarność” National Commission who welcomed all the participants in Wieliczka and presented shortly the agenda for the next two days. Then the floor was given to Jerzy Jaworski, Vice President and Treasurer of NSZZ "Solidarność" National Commission, who greeted the guests on behalf of himself and Piotr Duda, the President of NSZZ “Solidarność”. Next Ryszard Proksa, the President of the National Education Secretariat of NSZZ “Solidarność” in his short welcome speech underlined the importance of the works of the Education Platform.

During the lecture part of the meeting the national situations regarding the influence of digitalization on the educational systems were presented with the examples from Hungary by Andras Bardocz-Todor, the President of KPSZT and Lithuania by Vaiva Poskaite-Tomasevic, representing Solidarumas, President of LDF Women Committee. Also threats and opportunities of digitalization identified in Portugal were presented by Maria Reina Martin, President of FTDC also representing Portuguese organisation for education and social development of workers FIDESTRA. Finally, the solutions applied already in the Netherlands were presented by an external expert, Debbie van Veen, C.O.O. Springest.

The common denominator of all presentations seems to be the fact the digital competence is not a choice but a necessity in the modern world. During the discussions there were identified the main threats:

  • concentration of all activities just on the vision of a modern school,
  • risk of loose contact with pupil,
  • easy and so frequent misuse of modern devices and technologies just to tease teachers and other students,
  • communication isolation,
  • a multitude of information,
  • lack of continuity of reforming/restructuring activities in the national education systems, as a consequence of governments change.

Also, there were identified the opportunities the technologically changing world creates for the educational systems, such as:

  • circumstances in favour of increasing the attractiveness of lessons,
  • possibility to use of the children’s natural willingness to play,
  • chance for faster development of lifelong learning,
  • availability of effective programs detecting plagiarism
  • better access to comparative analyses.

After the lecture part participants were asked to work in groups and to discuss within each group whether the social dialogue was a method to overcome the challenges created by the omnipresent digitalization to the school and the education systems and to develop recommendations on actions needed to effectively face challenges posed by the digitalization at local, national and European levels.

After presenting the results of the groups’ work, a plenary discussion followed and four main elements were selected for the Platform recommendation:

  1. Adapting teachers to the changing conditions of work, market and technology while not allowing the teacher to be replaced by the computer.
  2. Working out aspects related to working time – so competence development is also possible during working time, to certain extent.
  3. A strategy at the European level is needed to preserve classical pedagogy in the future, though adapted to new technologies.
  4. Attention must be paid to the legal provisions determining the teachers work, so that they are elastic enough to introduce with no delay any amendments necessary due to the dynamic change in the inner and outer environment of the school, as a result of the increasing digitalization.

The next meeting of the Platform will be dedicated to “Teachers 50+ - age diversity at schools”, the situations and solutions applied in Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania and the Netherlands will be presented.