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A new subject – computer modelling, will be studied in III grade from the start of the next school year. The objective is for children to create in a digital environment using modern visual tools from a very early age.

This is what Minister of Education and Science Krasimir Valchev said at the opening of the Flagship Conference “Educate to Create: from Digital Consumers to Digital Creators” of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU.

“Digital skills will have to be integrated across all subjects,” said Minster Valchev, adding that in the digital transformation era education and training have the important role to prepare all young people to work in a new environment and in the future labour market.

The conference will result in the adoption of the Sofia Call for Action on Digital Skills and Education.

Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev spoke about how important it is for education to develop digital skills but also to invest in critical thinking. “We must invest in developing the capacity to make judgement, to think, to compare, to analyse,” he said. In his words, the ability to create is what makes the human being a personality.

Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova described the forum, which brings attention to teacher training, cooperation with industry and non-formal education, as a major event during the Bulgarian Presidency. She emphasised that quality education was a key factor for the development of all spheres, so investment and teacher training were the most important thing. “We must have teachers who are creators. We have to attract young teachers, teachers who not only have digital skills but are also creators,” Fandakova said.

European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Mr. Tibor Navracsics spoke about the need to develop digital partnerships. In particular he noted that schools must update their digital curricula so that teachers be prepared. Navracsics said that in the future, up to 90% of jobs are expected to require some level of digital competence.

More than 400 people, including teachers, university and school students, IT people, take part in the forum which continues on Friday. The conference focuses on the pressing need to raise basic and digital skills and on the need of quality education for all in natural sciences, technologies, engineering sciences, mathematics, entrepreneurship (STEM и STEAM). Ideas and best practices enhancing the quality of education are shared during the sessions.

Deputy Minister of Education and Science Denitsa Sacheva emphasized that teacher training was critical – teachers have to become creators. The school environment and the role of school leaders are therefore important. Entrepreneurship and digital skills should go hand in hand. Technologies should reduce existing inequalities instead of creating new ones, Sacheva noted. She also emphasized the link between formal and non-formal education.

MEP Eva Maydell also focused on teacher training. She noted that it was important to attract young teachers who use innovative methods.

“We need mentors who can teach us how to become digital creators,” said student and STEM Champion Tania Otsetalova.

At the venue, conference participants have the opportunity to see projects for interactive education, learning through play and other methods of learning.