Desk research to map out the current scene (teaching robotics, digital inclusion of deaf youth in schools/ labour market etc) in order to develop the robotics4deaf framework with inbuilt benchmarks and indicators
- To investigate strategies/policies at the national level for the introduction of robotics, coding in formal/nonformal learning for deaf students;
- To provide training opportunities for teachers;
- To investigate the compliance of national policies/practices with EU strategies and initiatives in relation to the EU;
- To define the needs, requirements and profiles of students with deafness in order for the material to be targeted to their needs.
- A survey to map out the integration of coding and robotics skills within the community of young people/students with disabilities and deaf students or with hearing impairment;
- An Inclusive Handbook for the needs and requirements of people with deafness or hearing impairments;
- The Coding, Robotics and STEM COMPETENCE FRAMEWORK analysing the skills to be used as
part of the innovative ROBOTICS4DEAF programme to be offered.
Robotics4Deaf comparative report on education system, dissability law and deaf students inclucion in all partners coutries.
Question 1: What is the current educational policy in each partner country?
The Republic of Cyprus is aligned with the Article 20 which states that every person has the right to receive education, provided that it will be in accordance with the Republic’s laws. Policies related to the education system note that education is compulsory from the age of 4 and 8 months (pre-primary education) to the age of 15 years old (end of lower secondary education). Public education is free of charge for all students aged 4 and 8 months to 18 years old. Public tertiary (non-university level) education is also free. Furthermore, the public higher education (undergraduate level) is free for Cypriot and EU citizens alike.
As a result of centralization in education governance, autonomy is very limited at the school education level. Only a few elements of decentralization can be identified at the school unit level, such as the teachers’ autonomy in regards to the teaching methods they use in their class as well as the head-teachers’ right to manage a small budget for extra expenses of the school unit (e.g. light equipment).
In order to meet the modern needs of education, the Greek Pedagogical Institute has worked since 2001 on the development of the new Diathematikon Programma (DP) (Cross Curricular/Thematic Framework) introducing a cross-thematic approach to learning.
DP is based on fundamental principles and aims of education and teaching, which set the general framework and the guidelines that determine the content of teaching and the educational process in Primary and Secondary Education. Both the content and the processing of 15 various concepts and information should ensure internal cohesion, continuation and unified development, interdisciplinary approaches and correlations as well as cross-thematic extensions.
The aims of the Greek educational system are specified by the Constitution (article 16, sec. 2) as follows:
‘Education constitutes a basic responsibility of the state and its aim is the moral, professional and physical development of the Greek people, the development of their national and religious awareness as well as their development as free and responsible citizens’.
Basic Italian educational principles are constitutionally founded and ensure free, compulsory educational opportunity for all children. The Italian educational system’s philosophy of education varies from teacher centered to student centered. The highly standardized curriculum was designed to facilitate school transfer in both public and private schools. There has been a gradual shift from rote memory assignments and assessments to less formal methods, which stress creativity and the application of critical inquiry and higher order thinking skills. In 1989 all issues related to higher education were transferred to the Ministry for Universities and Scientific Research.
The overall responsibility for education in Italy rests with two bodies: the Ministry of Public Instruction for preschool, primary, and secondary education and the Ministry for Universities and Scientific Research.
The Education Law (1998) represented the first organic program launched in Latvia aimed at modernizing the national educational system.
Latvian education is compulsory and free for children between ages 5 and 18. The first 9 years are spent panatskola primary schools that provide a basic academic education.
For the final three years of their schooling, academically-minded pupils may continue on to general secondary schools where they complete their university preparation by sitting for their certificate of general secondary education. Those with a more practical view on life choose vocational secondary schools instead, that culminate in certificates of vocational education.
Latvia has introduced a strategy of continuous vocational training which embraces the concept of life-long learning in order for everybody to remain up-to-date in job-related knowledge. It is hoped that soon half a million people will be participating in these paid programs every year.
There are 34 state-recognized higher education institutions, including colleges that offer programs of 2 to 3 year’s duration, and universities offering academic training leading to bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Rights and obligations in the field of education are laid down in the Constitution of the Slovak Republic, in Article 42, par. 1 “Everyone has the right to education. Schooling is compulsory”; par. 2 “Citizens have the right to free education in primary and secondary schools according to the citizens’ ability and the possibility of society at universities”.
The Constitution guarantees national minorities or ethnic groups the right to all-round development in Art. 34 “in particular the right, together with other members of a minority or group, to develop their own culture, the right to disseminate and receive information in their mother tongue, to associate in national associations, to establish and maintain educational and cultural institutions”; par. 2 “Citizens belonging to national minorities or ethnic groups shall be guaranteed under the conditions laid down by law, in addition to the right to acquire the state language,
The main document regulating education in Poland is the Act of 14 December 2016 – Educational Law, supplemented by the Act of 7 September 1991 on the education system and regulations to this Act.
Act of 20 July 2018 – Law on Higher Education and Science (Journal of Laws 2018 item 1668)
- Act of 3 July 2018 – Provisions introducing the act – Law on higher education and science (Journal of Laws 2018 item 1669)
- Act of 7 July 2017 on the National Academic Exchange Agency (Journal of Laws 2017 item 1530)
- Act of 22 December 2015 on the Integrated Qualification System (Journal of Laws of 2016, item 64)
- Act of 22 December 2015 on the principles of recognition of professional qualifications acquired in the Member States of the European Union (Journal of Laws 2016 item 65)
- Act of 30 April 2010 on the National Center for Research and Development (Journal of Laws 2010 No. 96 item 616)
- Act of 30 April 2010 on the National Science Center (Journal of Laws 2010 No. 96 item 617).
and regulations to the above acts.
Question 2: How the education system works in each partner country?
The education system in Cyprus is based on a centralized educational model. This implies that the financial resources, school curricula and additional programs as well as the teaching staff (appointments, promotions etc.) are controlled by the state. Formal school education is organized into three levels: elementary (ages 6-12), gymnasium (ages 12-15) and lyceum (ages 15-18). Primary and secondary in public education is free of charge for the students and school education is compulsory up to the age of 15.
Higher education in Cyprus is also provided by a number of State Higher Education Institutions, and an even greater number of Private Institutions of Higher Education, none of which has university status. The State Institutions of Higher Education, offer vocational programmes of study with a duration ranging from one to three academic years. These programmes do not provide access to second cycle programmes. The ‘apolyterion’ or equivalent qualification, is a prerequisite for access to the programmes offered by State Higher Education Institutions and candidates for entrance to a particular programme are ranked according to their performance in the Pancyprian Examinations.
The Greek educational system is centralized. National laws, presidential decrees and ministerial acts are prevalent within it.
The central administrative body for the education system across all fields, agencies and levels is the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs.
Compulsory education lasts 11 years and extends from the ages of 4 to 15. The stages of the Greek education are mainly 3:
- Primary Education
includes Pre-Primary School (Nipiagogeio)
and Primary School (Dimotiko Scholeio)
Education includes Gymnasium (Gymnasio) and Lyceum (Lykeio)
- Tertiary Education includes The University Sector (Panepistimio) and The Technological Sector
Lifelong learning policy in Greece is part of a wider development plan. The General Secretariat for Vocational Education, Training and Lifelong Learning plans the public policy of LLL and youth. Non-formal education can lead to certifications recognized at national level. Lifelong learning is provided at:
- Second Chance Schools (Scholeia Defteris Efkairias – SDE)
- Vocational Training Institutes (Institouta Epaggelmatikis Katartisis – IEK)
- Vocational Training Schools (Scholi Epaggelmatikis Katartisis – SEK)
- Lifelong Learning Centres (Kentra Dia Viou Mathisis)
- Colleges (Kollegia)
First cycle of education
The first cycle of education is compulsory and is made up of primary and lower secondary education.Primary education (scuola primaria) starts at 6 years of age and lasts 5 years. Lower secondary education (scuola secondaria di I grado) starts at 11 years of age and lasts 3 years.
Second cycle of education
The second cycle of education starts at the age of 14 and offers two different pathways:
- the upper secondary school education
- the regional vocational training system (IFP).
- Universities (polytechnics included);
- High level arts, music and dance education institutes (Alta formazione artistica, musicale e coreutica – Afam);
- Higher schools for language mediators (Scuole superiori per mediatori linguistici – SSML);
- Higher technical institutes (Istituti tecnici superiosi – ITS).
Latvia provides a legal entitlement to early childhood education and care (ECEC) for all children from 1.5 years of age throughout the country. ECEC was made compulsory for 5- and 6-year-olds in 2002 and is considered part of general education.
Compulsory single-structure basic education lasts from Grades 1 to 9 (age 7 to 16) and is divided into 6 years of primary education and 3 years of lower secondary education. Transition to the next class takes place automatically as there are no examinations to pass from one class to the next. Basic education ends after Grade 9 with final examinations in students’ first language, the Latvian language for students in minority schools, mathematics, Latvian history and a foreign language, leading to the award of a certificate which is needed for entry into upper secondary education.
Although it is not compulsory, most students in Latvia go on to obtain an upper secondary education (Grades 10 to 12).
The various vocational upper secondary education programmes take between two and four years to complete and lead to different qualification levels.
Public schools provide elementary and secondary education free of charge. Also free of charge is the standard length of study for full-time students. Education in private and church schools may be subject to a fee.
Education in all types of schools (ISCED 0-3) is carried out according to national educational programs.
The first stage of the education system is pre-primary education. It is provided by kindergartens and is intended for children aged three to six years.
Compulsory education lasts ten years (aged 6 to 16) and ends with students completing the first year of upper secondary education or reaching the age of 16.
Primary and lower secondary education lasts nine years.
Upper secondary education starts at the age of 15 and is organized as general, vocational or artistic education. General upper secondary education is provided by four-, five- or eight-year grammar schools (11-18 years). Secondary vocational schools, in addition to upper secondary vocational education, also provide post-secondary and higher vocational education programs. Studies in secondary vocational schools last two to five years. Art education is provided by conservatories, which are a specific type of school providing, in addition to lower and upper secondary education, also higher vocational education (tertiary).
Higher education is provided at three levels – bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs – in the autonomy of universities and higher education institutions.
The structure of the Polish education system consists of the following types of schools:
- 8-year primary school – compulsory for all students;
- Post-primary schools (secondary and post-secondary):
- 4-year high school,
- 5-year technical school,
- 3-year Branch School I stage,
- 3-year special school preparing for work (for people with moderate to severe intellectual disability and conjugated disabilities)
- 2- year Branch School II stage (continuation of education in a 3-year Branch School I stage),
- A maximum of 2.5 years post-secondary school for people with secondary or branch school education.
The education system does not include universities, which constitute a separate higher education system.
Structure of the higher education system
Due to the forms and level, education in the higher education system is divided into:
- first cycle studies (ISCED6) – bachelor’s or engineering studies
- second cycle studies (ISCED7) – Master’s studies
- long-cycle studies (ISCED6-7) – master’s studies,
- PhD studies (ISCED8) – doctoral
- postgraduate studies (ISCED7) – a form of education intended for persons holding a university diploma.
- specialized education (ISCED5) – paid, conducted by public and private universities,
- colleges (ISCED5) – run by public and private colleges of social service workers,
Question 3: What is the disability law and the rights of the d/Deaf community in each partner country?
- Convention 159 of the International Labour organization (ILO) to secure professional rehabilitation and employment of disabled persons (Validated Law 42/1987);
- 1989 Persons with Intellectual Disabilities Law (Law 117/1989) which secures the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities for a dignified living, social security, social welfare and opportunities for personal development;
- 1996 Revised European Social Map (Ratified Law);
- 2000 Law (Law 17(III)/2000) and 2011 Amended Law (Law 17(III)/2011) which emphasizes professional rehabilitation of persons with disabilities;
- 2000 Persons’ with Disabilities Law (Law 127(I)/2000), then following 2004 Amended Law (Law 57(I)/2004) and the 2007 Law (Law 72(I)/2007) refer to the securing of the rights of persons with disabilities;
- Law 146(I)/2009 promotes employment opportunities for persons with disabilities;
- European Directive, Law 118 (I) / 2010, which introduced Article 30 that states that the providers of audiovisual media services are subject to the jurisdiction of the Republic shall and ensure that their services are gradually accessible to people with visual or auditory disabilities;
- Education and Training of Children with Special Needs Law 1999 (113(I)/1999);
- Mechanisms for Early Detection of Children with Special Needs (185(I)2001);
- Regulations for Education and Training of Children with Special Needs (186 (I)2001).
- According to Law n. 2430/1996, 1st Article, the National Confederation of People with Disabilities is recognized
- In Paragraph 2, of the 4th Article of the same Law, the disability card is also established as an institution.
- As stated in Law n. 2643/1998, Public Services, Legal Entities of Public Law and Local Government Organizations are obligated to employ a small percentage of people with a disability rate greater than 50% and to increase their annual leave by 6 days.
- As reported by the Law n. 2817/2000, d/Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing people, whose first language is the Sign Language, are considered as people with Special Educational Needs and are offered either parallel support (more on this in the next chapter) in mainstream schools or specially organized support through Special Education schools, depending on the nature and extent of their problem. In exceptional cases, education of d/Deaf people might be provided at their home.
- Also, Article 5A of the Constitution of Greece states that all persons have the right to participate in the Information Society and that the state has an obligation to facilitate the production, exchange, diffusion, and access to electronically transmitted information.
- As highlighted by the report published by the European Union of the Deaf, in Italy there is no official recognition of Italian Sign Language (LIS) at national level. Nevertheless, some regions officially recognize LIS. Moreover, in Italy, a number of laws and administrative regulations mention sign language and ensure the right of its use.
- The Italian disability act (Law n.104/1992), declares for example the right for deaf students enrolled in university to benefit from sign language interpreting services during lectures. Furthermore, they have the right to be assisted by a sign language interpreter during examinations and during the final discussion of their thesis. Deaf individuals are entitled to receive support from an interpreter during selection processes to civil servant positions, driving licence examinations, in the lawcourt, and in the employment offices.
- Italy is, so far, the only European country which has reached 99.6% inclusion of learners with disabilities in mainstream education. In fact, by law there are no special schools or classes in the Italian school system.
- Law 118/1971, which granted all children the right to be educated in common classes, and Law 517/1977 abolished special schools.
- Law 104/1992 is the main framework for all disability issues: it guarantees specific rights for people with disabilities and their families, provides assistance, stipulates full integration and the adoption of measures for prevention and functional recovery, and also ensures social, economic and legal protection.
- Under Law 118/1971, municipalities are responsible for making school buildings accessible for everyone.
- Moreover, Law 104/1992 provides for the removal of barriers (architectural or sensorial) and the introduction of appropriate aids and tools to support pupils with disabilities in education and training.
- Local authorities must provide free transport for people with disabilities.
- Pupils with disabilities (…) have the right to full participation in school life, such as summer camps, study visits (accompanied by special staff), etc.
- Law 107/2015 (the Good School Reform Act) aims to affirm the school’s central role in society and raise all learners’ levels of education and skills, based on individual learning times and styles.
The state and local governments support the integration of children with special needs into society and provide them with education, health care, and social services under the Latvian legislation.
A person enrolled in a basic, vocational or tertiary education program who is unable to compensate for their hearing impairment by technical aids, and who, based on a physician’s attestation, has been recognized to need for a sign language interpreter, will be eligible for translation services. Based on a physician’s certificate, a person who is unable to compensate for the hearing impairment with technical aids is supported with a sign language interpreter for legal communication.
The State ensures the social rehabilitation of hearing-impaired persons according to the funds allocated in the annual State Budget Law, including social rehabilitation services paid for by the State budget.
UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
The European Employment Strategy pays special attention to people with disabilities in order to ensure inclusive labour markets for job seekers and disadvantaged people.
According to the Constitution of the Slovak Republic and anti-discrimination and other relevant legislation in Slovakia, discrimination on grounds of disability is prohibited.
The Labour Code provides for increased protection of people with disabilities in labour relations.
Act of the National Council of the Slovak Republic on Sign Language of the Deaf
The Slovak Republic respects and promotes the linguistic and cultural identity of the deaf community and appreciates their contribution to the development of society. The purpose of the Act is to provide for the use of sign language as a form of communication for deaf people, thereby ensuring the conditions for their application in society.
The communication form of deaf persons used in the Slovak Republic is the Slovak sign language.
Slovak sign language is a natural language of the deaf people community, which is formed by specific visual-movement means, which include the shape of hands, their position and movement, facial expression, position and movement of the head and upper torso. The Slovak sign language has basic language features, it is a verbal non-sonic language system with its own grammar and sign inventory. The unit of Slovak sign language is sign.
Deaf persons have the right to
- use of Slovak sign language,
- education in Slovak sign language,
- information using the Slovak sign language in the television broadcast of a public institution,
- access to public interest information and information relating to the rights of the deaf.
Constitution of the Republic of Poland of April 2, 1997 and resolution of the Sejm of Poland of August 1, 1997 – Charter of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Act of 27 August 1997 on professional and social rehabilitation and employment of disabled people.
Act of 19 August 2011 on sign language and other means of communication.
Act of 19 July 2019 on ensuring accessibility for people with special needs.
United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Other international acts in force in all European Union countries.
Question 4: How are deaf and/or with hearing impairment students included in special and mainstream schools in each partner country?
Education for hearing impaired and deaf in Cyprus has gone through three important periods. The first period began with the foundation of the first school, meaning 1953, and ended in 1986. In this period hearing impaired individuals were exclusively enrolled in the school for the deaf. The second period started in 1987 and ended in 1992. In this period the incorporation of hearing impaired and deaf students is attempted for the first time and as a result the first educational units for such students are established to general schools. The last period, which began in 1993 and runs up to the present, is perhaps the most important, as full inclusion of hearing impaired and deaf individuals is attempted, and students are included in general schools which develop appropriate services to support them.
Nowadays, as a result of the aforementioned efforts and laws, the majority of hearing impaired or deaf students in Cyprus attend general schools, with or without support, depending on the case. The school for the deaf operates mainly as a provider of various services for them and their families.
The curricula taught are the same as in mainstream schools, appropriately adapted for language, and taught by corresponding teachers in each level and subject. Concerning Higher Education, the Republic of Cyprus has legislated various facilities for applicants with disabilities who wish to participate in the national exams. Applicants can claim various facilities such as extension of the time limit and simplification of the language version. Also, 6% of positions in the Public Universities of Cyprus is to be allocated to “Cypriot candidates with serious health problems or other serious problems”. Attending students may claim facilities such as transcription of the exam, simplified examination essay, indulgence in syntactic and spelling errors, and more specifically for the hearing impaired, sign language interpreters. These facilities may be granted after evaluation of the applicant by the Special Committee, responsible for the provision of facilities.
A number of private schools exist addressing children with learning difficulties and are fully recognized by MoEC.
Based on Law n. 3699/2008 with the latest changes by Law n. 4638/2019, the Greek Sign Language is considered as the first language for d/Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing students and the written form of the Modern Greek Language is considered as their second language. The oral perception and expression of the Modern Greek language is an additional social choice for the d/Deaf students. The Greek Sign Language and the Modern Greek language are recognized as equal, so the appropriate linguistic pedagogical approach is bilingual education.
Education of people with Special Educational Needs is provided free of charge by the state in public schools. The form of these schools is determined by the type and degree of the students’ specific educational needs.
- in the mainstream school classroom with the parallel support of a Special Education teacher:
- in specially organized and appropriately staffed Integration classrooms operating within mainstream and technical vocational schools.
The inclusion of d/Deaf students with Special Educational Needs in schools of the mainstream education system or in the Integration classroom is particularly difficult because of the nature and extent of their Special Needs. The education of these children is provided:
- in Special Education schools. The d/Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing Students must know the Greek Sign Language in order to attend these schools
- in schools or classrooms operating either as independent or affiliated to other schools in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, juvenile institutions or chronically ill institutions,
- at home, in exceptional cases. In this case, the e-learning system may be used.
Italy lags behind most OECD countries when it comes to equipment and usage of information and com¬munication technology (ICT) in school. For example, in 2011, only 30% of Italian students in 8th grade used ICT as a regular instruction tool in science classes, compared to 48% on average in an OECD country.
In this context, the Ministry of Education launched in 2007 a National Plan for Digital Schools (Piano Nazionale Scuola Digitale) to mainstream ICT in Italian classrooms.
However, the small budget of the Plan has limited the effectiveness of its diverse initiatives. Because of a lack of budget rather than insufficient school or teacher demand, ICT equipment is entering Italian classes rather slowly.
However, three out of ten people are not regular internet users yet, and more than half of the population still lacks basic digital skills.
Since the September 1st 2019, there are 8 educational institutions, including 4 special educational institutions, which implement a special education program for students with hearing impairment. At the 01.09.2019, there are 185 students attending special education programs for hearing.
The exact number of hearing-impaired students enrolled in mainstream education is not known, since their registration is not formally recorded.
The Valmiera Secondary School is the only Development center that, in Latvia, provides methodological and consultative support to other educational institutions, learners and their parents in order to promote inclusion of children and young people with hearing impairment.
In Latvia, there are 89 children and young people with hearing disabilities who attend school programs and who receive regular counseling and methodological support from the Valmiera Development Center.
School integration of disadvantaged students is currently relatively well treated in legislation (Act No. 245/2008 Coll. On education and training). A child with sensory, physical or mental disabilities can be enrolled in a normal school at the request of the parents (legal guardian), provided that they are recommended by experts from the educational counselling facility. The special pedagogue and psychologist of the relevant centre of special education counselling will take a position on the individual inclusion of the child on the basis of his / her professional examination and assessment of the relevant context. This opinion is reviewed at certain intervals (2-4 years) in order to assess objectively how affected the child can benefit from the chosen type of education, i.e. j. whether the mainstream school adequately satisfies its special educational needs and whether the child’s intellectual and personal potential develops in proportion to his / her possibilities.
Stats below. Students who don’t use hearing at all are called “deaf”, other students (no matter how deep they have hearing loss) are called hard of hearing:
Primary school students (curriculum for I-III classes – IT education), Curriculum for IV-VIII classes – Informatics)
- deaf: 923;
- hard of hearing: 6572;
Secondary school students (in force before the changes in 2017 basic vocational schools are included here)
- deaf: 654;
- hard of hearing: 1799
3-years Branch School I stage (new curriculum from 2017- Informatics)
- deaf 103;
- hard of hearing 194
5 – years Vocational High School and 4 years of Liceum (new curriculum from 2017 – Informatics)
- deaf 497;
- hard of hearing 1505.
Question 5: How are the students with d/Deafness and/or hearing impairment digitally included in the educational system in each partner country?
MoEC has developed a guide to the teachers to be used in the ‘common classrooms’- which includes mainstream students and students with deafness- in order for the students with deafness to be able to equally participate in the classroom. To support their learning development, students with deafness have access on computers and other visual aids so to attend the courses efficiently.
In special units, students with any form of disability including students with deafness attend courses on computer science. The main aims of these courses are for the students:
- To recognize the use of a Computer;
- To recognize fundamental programmes such as Word, Power Point etc.;
- To be able to search for various topics on internet;
- To use the computer for their support to other courses;
- To attend educational courses on the computer;
- To use internet as a way of communication (email etc.) with other people and recognize the dangers that this implies.
Digital rights and access to information (including the right to accessing the Internet) are recognized as a right by the law of Greece. In particular, Article 5A of the Constitution of Greece.
is greater than 50% (both for minors and adults).
According to Law n. 4488/2017, it is stated that the Mass Media should take measures to ensure that people with disabilities are not discriminated against their access to information.
Nowadays, a great effort has been made to digitalize educational material for d/Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing people.
In Italy, the great majority of deaf children attend mainstream public schools along with hearing children and instruction is provided according to three different models.
Deaf children not exposed to sign language attend mainstream public schools where instruction is essentially “oral”. Sign language is not used and not even mentioned inside the school.
Families of deaf children exposed to sign language have two possibilities: To request the presence in the classroom of a Teaching Assistant (TA) competent in Italian Sign Language (LIS) or to find a school with a bilingual curriculum: LIS and Italian for deaf and hearing children.
A very few public schools offer a bilingual curriculum that implies the use of Italian and LIS always within the classroom.
Schooling in Italy still offers no effective systematic response to the difficulties surrounding the education of the deaf. Traditionally the approach to deaf education has focused on comparing deaf learners with hearing learners, without viewing deaf people as visual learners with different learning behaviors.
The social cost of this situation is enormous: deaf people are often excluded from written communication and, in many cases, they cannot perform professional tasks involving minimum competences in written language and cannot access higher levels of education.
In the last few years, there has been much talk about the digital divide – there is a broad concern that the increasing use of computers for communication, commerce, civic engagement, and, of course, education may lead to some inequalities in some sectors of society.
Accordingly, we need to focus on digital inclusion to ensure that everyone in society can effectively use the opportunities offered by the digital world.
Digital equipment availability plays a primary role. In this regard, the poorer classes are penalized.
Who doesn’t possess a computer at home or work (or a smartphone) has difficulty accessing public services, online shopping, and social networks.
Furthermore, who does not have a computer is also very likely to have poor IT skills.
However, digital inclusion doesn’t only require the availability of a computer. It also requires skills in the use of programs, such as Word and Excel, and above all, the internet.
In each special school there are PC classrooms with PCs, laptops and tablets with internet connections, interactive whiteboards and data projectors. Students use digital educational content as a classical teaching method.
The situation of deaf students in Poland is very difficult. This is mainly due to the policy that is followed in this area. Integration teaching and inclusive education have been promoted for over 15 years, resulting in a permanent reduction in deaf children in special facilities. The growing number of deaf children in mass institutions does not, however, translate into the ability to educate children with hearing impairment.
According to the Environmental Report developed as part of the project “Monitoring of the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” in 2016-2017, although many people support inclusive education, a significant part of the deaf community is opposed to the trend of total abandonment of special schools for children deaf. This position results mainly from the assessment of the situation in public and inclusive education.
Inclusive and integration education in Poland does not provide the deaf child with the conditions set out in Article 24 paragraph 3 b and c of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and thus does not provide the conditions for the student’s free and adapted educational development.
Question 6: How do digital skills, coding and robotics integrated in National Curricula in primary – secondary and VET schools in each partner country?
ICT course is not a distinct course in primary school yet, even less a course such as Robotics. However, educational robotics have been introduced in the course of ‘Design and Technology’, in which STE(A)M skills appear. The ‘Design and Technology’ course is delivered at the grade 5 and 6 (10-12 years old) and it aims to technologically literate students as follow:
- Technological knowledge
- Technological skills and competences
- Values, attitudes and experiences on solving technological issues
Robotics has been introduced in 2009 and today is a part of the ‘Design and Technology’ formal curriculum, in the ‘System and Control Technology’ module, with the prospect to expand their presence in the near future.
Greece is one of the 3 countries in Europe that have the highest number of recommended hours for ICTs as a compulsory separate subject in primary education (around 150 hours).
The curriculum reform, which is part of Greece’s Digital School Strategy has two aims:
- Certified knowledge of ICT of all secondary education students (through a national exam system).
- Enhancement of students’ digital competences, giving special emphasis on digital education, ICT literacy, use of digital technology in general and open technologies and resources, coding and programming, and development of social attitudes and skills (e-citizenship).
Compared to other developed countries, access to digital technology in Italy’s schools is low (European Union 2013). In 2011–2012, computer-to-student ratios in primary schools was six per 100 (EU average 14.5) and 80 % of students attended schools with low or inexistent internet connectivity.
As a disciplinary subject in its own right, computer science is only taught in technical-oriented high schools. However, the 2015 Education Act (passing through parliament at the time of writing) includes, among other ICT-related measures, a policy initiative to promote coding and computational thinking in primary schools. The aim is, by 2017, to involve 25 % of all primary schools in an optional Hour-of-Code-style programme, with 9 % being involved at a more advanced level.
The Latvian Education Act defines the Digital Teaching Aids (hereafter – DTAs), such as electronic publications and other resources necessary for the implementation of educational programs.
The following DTAs are used in Latvian schools: e-books, audiobooks, and digital visual aids. The DTA currently available are characterized by low interactivity. There is no confirmation of a correlation between the use of DTA and greater IT competence and skills.
Schools don’t mostly use digital materials and technologies. The main obstacles are the lack of financial resources and the unpreparedness of teachers to manage these materials. Innovative learning tools, such as robotics kits, 3D printers, are used occasionally and are not integrated into the school curriculum. Commercial DTAs are generally used in higher education institutions. However, there are free materials developed for this purpose. They are used only occasionally and include interactive maps, applications, and online sites. The learning process in general education institutions in Latvia does not make extensive use of technologies. Usually, schools use computers, interactive whiteboards, and sometimes tablets. Students use these tools more to develop their skills than to improve their learning process.
In our special schools in lower secondary education, students learn the subject of “Informatics”. The mission of teaching computer science is to guide students to understand the basic concepts, procedures and techniques used to work with data and the flow of information in computer systems.
The curriculum includes thematic units on procedures, problem solving, algorithmic thinking. The performance standard is to know the possibilities of using the Imagine programming language. And in upper secondary education they learn to work with the programming languages C++, Pascal, HTML, CSS. With robotics they had not had a chance to try or learn yet. In Slovakia, few elementary schools work with robotics, but universities of technical type are fully working, experimenting on the development of automation, improvements.
The core curriculum for teaching is the same for students with hearing and hearing impairment. IT classes in Polish schools begins in the first grade of primary school.
Robotics at school is a new topic, introduced for the first time in the core curriculum of IT classes for primary school in 2017 and in the curriculum for secondary schools from 2018. These documents do not specify the scope of issues related to robotics, but treat them as optional.
According to the new core curriculum of IT classes for primary school, the student:
„Programs visually: (…)
b) individual commands or their sequences controlling a robot or object on the screen of a computer or other digital device”.
„Formulates and writes the algorithms, commands that consist of: (…)
c) controlling a robot or object on the screen”.
Question 7: What is the current state of infrastructure, equipment, resources and tools that support the teaching of coding and robotics in each partner country?
In regard to the infrastructure, the MoEC is continuously providing advanced ICT equipment to all public schools in Cyprus, such as desktop computers, laptops, interactive white boards, printers, scanners, video projectors and computer labs. A study prepared for the European Commission (IpsosMori, 2019) showed that Cyprus general schools are partially digitally equipped compared to the European average. Students who use a computer for learning puporses at school is 37% in Cyprus whereas in the EU the share reaches 58%.
According to the 2019 Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), which is a composite indicator that summarizes relevant indicators on Europe’s digital performance, Greece is among the lowest digital economies (third from last – see Figure 2) among the EU Member States.
In addition, the 2nd Survey for Schools: ICT in Education by the EC that took place in 2019 in over 400 schools in Greece, showed that there are less highly digitally equipped and connected schools at all levels compared to the EU average.
In Italy most computers are desktops rather than laptops, but it ranks among countries with the lowest percentages of students having access to internet-connected desktop computers in Europe at grade 8 (fig. 6.2). In terms of internet-connected laptop compters at grade 8 Italy is among the bottom group of countries, and the situation is the same at all other grades.
The higher the percentage of students from low-income families in a school, the less online laptop computers tend to be available in vocational schools in Italy. Computers are mainly located in dedicated labs at all grades, significantly higher than most countries at grade 4 around 80% at all other grades.
Most schools are technically well equipped. They have one or more computerized classrooms, a powerful Internet connection, interactive whiteboards, projectors, laptops, science classrooms, etc. Accordingly, schools can use digital technologies in the learning process.
According to the Central Statistical Bureau (CSB), in 2016, 100% of students used the Internet regularly, while 96.1% of families with children had an Internet connection.
Mostly special schools in Slovakia are equipped with modern information and communication technologies. All classes are equipped with interactive whiteboards, we also have three multimedia classrooms and three classrooms with equipment for teaching electrical engineering. However, subsidies from the state budget are not enough for us to upgrade our technical equipment, nor are they sufficient to purchase new application programs.
In the vast majority of primary schools, these are PC microcomputers with one of the versions of the Windows operating system. Occasionally, there are Macintosh microcomputers from Apple with their operating system.
In many cases these are old computers (over three years old).
It is worth adding that, paradoxically, the younger and less experienced the user, the better the equipment he needs.
The situation in special schools is better. Each school has an IT room with Internet access. Each classroom has at least one teacher computer and 5 to 15 for students. Computers have Windows operating systems from version XP to version 10 (the vast majority are 7 or 10).
Polish National Educational Network – OSE is a public telecommunications network program that gives schools access to fast, free and secure Internet.
Question 8: What are some formal and non-formal opportunities, initiatives, programs etc. related to coding and robotics in each partner country?
There are some format opportunities in Cyprus. For example ‘System and Control Technology’ Framework (designed in 2018) which is addressed to primary school students at Grade 6.
It is also noted, that several educational seminars are organized by the Pedagogical Institute of Cyprus in order to enhance the teacher’s professional development.
As it has been mentioned before, Educational Robotics is not a teaching subject in Greek public schools. However, driven from their personal interest and knowledge of the subject, teachers apply educational robotics activities and integrate them in their teaching. Unfortunately, the cost of robotics kits combined with the lack of technical knowledge by teachers represent major hindering factors for the full integration of educational robotics in schools.
On the other hand, outside of school, there are various available activities, opportunities, initiatives and programmes related to Coding and Robotics and Educational Robotics in particular.
There are currently several initiatives that are focused to the exploitation of robotics, especially on the technical schools, to increase the participation and involvement of young students in the scientific studies.
Tinkering coding making: The project contains a series of recipes with the ingredients, steps and time necessary for teachers who wish to innovative didactics starting with readily available resources and tools.
Enter the World of AI: An online course which presented in Matera at the fourth edition of Microsoft’s Edu Day, a lab and course entitled “Enter the World of AI” developed for Programme Ambizione Italia for Schools.
There are also European projects available in Italy.
The school education includes: excursions, quizzes and competitions, discussions with experts, participation in extracurricular competitions, excursions and exhibitions, practice in electrical and IT companies, etc.
In Poland there are 38 Vocational High School (only IT specialization), 50 post-secondary (non-tertiary) IT schools and 38 higher education (universities and polytechnic) IT departments (engineer, bachelor and master programmes – 6 and 7 levels of European Qualifications Framework). Learning is free.
In Poland you can as well attend professional qualification courses in IT specialization. After this courses you can take a professional exam (as well as after Vocational High School) to confirm IT specialist qualification (level 5 of European Qualifications Framework).
In Poland there are as well companies offering lots of paid IT courses. Most popular are Coders Lab Sp. z o.o., Software Development Academy, IT Academy etc. Costs of this courses are minimum 2800 Euro (and more)