ETUCE is concerned about the increasing interest of the European Commission’s in involving private companies and ICT businesses in the financing of vesting of digital education, as regards the introduction and development to robots and cutting-edge tools to use and experiment in schools.

Teachers will never be replaced by educational robots. Even though educational robots can have some influence, in particular as an information source, in the educational development of students with special needs, they are not educators. Educational robots are artificial intelligence and lack the motivational, inspirational and pedagogical potential, disregard the socio-emotional learning, the human dimension and the personal interaction, can distort the students’ learning process, entail disruption of teaching processes and create additional workload. Teachers are essential agents of inclusion and social justice and educators of future generations of democratic citizens for a better world.

Robotics, like other drivers of digital change such as emerging and state-of-art technologies, nanotechnology and 3-D printing, should be an added value and supportive tools enhancing the possibilities of critical-thinking and problem resolution of students and allowing teachers to focus more on in-class activities and student interaction rather than routine work (grading, drilling exercises, etc.)

ETUCE believes that schools are not laboratories to experiment cutting-edge ICT tools or devices with students and teachers. Schools must be inclusive and dynamic learning environments where students can socially interact with each other and with their teachers, instead of being used for the most ambitious attempts of the technology and ICT industry to influence students from early childhood on to acquire innovative and complex coding and computing skills.

ETUCE adopts a positive approach on ICT and new technologies, fundamental for an informed citizenship in an increasingly technologised world both for personal enrichment and lifelong learning purposes.

ETUCE European Director, Ms Flocken said: “Social partners in education should be the drivers and lead the digital and innovative developments in education. States have the public responsibility to provide quality and affordable ICT teaching materials and tools in the digital era. The private industry and businesses can only play a secondary and supportive role, and not a leading role, which can be harmful to inclusion and contribute to indirect privatisation and commercialization in education”.

For more information, please read ETUCE position on the EU Digital Education Action Plan 2020 here.