How Belgium addresses the digital gap?

On 23rd April 2015 the Parliament of the Federation Walloon-Brussels (Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles) held a discussion forum on the digital gap ("fracture numérique"). 

The Ministry responsible for education presented several projects in primary and secondary schools aimed at tackling the digital gap: 

These projects are all aimed at enhancing the digital skills of both teachers and students in primary and secondary (formal) education in the French-speaking part of Belgium.

The second central topic of the event were the NEETs (15-24 year-olds not in employment, education and training) and the potential of digital literacy and digital tools for reintegrating them into education or employment, hence in society at large. EPNs (Espaces Publiques Numériques as telecenters are called in French-speaking Belgium) have a key role here. There are currently around 150 such spaces in Walloon region. In 2015 the Walloon network of telecenters (EPNs en Wallonie) will pilot a new project "NEETs en EPN / NEETs in telecenters" specifically targeted to this group. The project will include training of e-facilitators (animateurs) and a four-module training programme for users. To reach the NEETs, telecenters will work in partnership with other organizations who are already working with this target group, such as public employment offices, associations and local NGOs. The project will be piloted in 4 telecenters in Walloon and aims at reaching 200 young people, half of which are expected to complete successfully the 4-module course. The project is supported by Microsoft and le Forem. 

To learn more about the digital inclusion policy of the Federation Walloon-Brussels, check out the Digital Plan of Walloon (Plan pour le Numérique en Wallonie), which is being currently developed. It is a follow up of the e-Inclusion policy published in our Database.

The plan has 6 axes: 

1.    Education and talents, which includes which includes not only primary, secondary and vocational education, but also digital inclusion 

2.    Economy with ICT, to increase the ICT capacities of businesses in all sectors

3.    Economy of the ICT, related to developing the ICT industry itself

4.    Digital territory for quality infrastructure and digital services such as e-health and smart cities

5.    Digital public services for open government and better administration

6.    Financing - public and private financial support for digital initiatives


The idea is to align the plan as much as possible with the European Digital Single Market Strategy, which will be announced this Wednesday, 6th May. Telecentre Europe welcomes the fact that e-skills and digital inclusion are the first priority in the Walloon plan, despite the fact that they are not so exclusively underlined in the European one.

A consultation with the public has been launched and already many regional actors are contributing in an open platform at https://www.printempsdunumerique.be. Proposals are being rated and the best ones put forward.

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