“National education and local authorities must work together in order not to lag behind the development of society by 20 years”

Loïc Daminai is deputy mayor of Fontenay-sous-Bois (94), delegate for pensioners, the digital city and veterans. He is a member of Villes Internet’s Digital Education working group and is therefore a member of the Partners Committee of the Ministry of National Education.

How do you see the place of digital education in the motions adopted by the last three national congresses of digitally elected officials?

Digital is everywhere. Pupils, whether in schools, universities or high schools, are confronted with it in a significant and permanent way.

Digital has a fundamental importance that it didn’t have 10 years ago. Education has to adapt. Unfortunately, we are far from a national strategy, both for communities and for national education. For this reason, this question is asked in connection with the applications from elected representatives on the subject of digital. The question of connection arises, but also the question of uses, which must be seriously worked on, since the educational actors are left to their discretion. It is therefore a question of defining a national strategy. The involvement of local elected officials in the preparation of applications and the importance they place on digital education reflects this challenge.

Municipalities are particularly well placed to meet this challenge as they provide the equipment and access, particularly through schools. Elected officials are on the front lines, they necessarily have an opinion because they are closer to the field. They express this opinion in defining digital priorities by participating in the preparation of motions for the Congresses of Digital Representatives.

You have to ask questions and – dare I say it – make demands. Digital must become a fundamental right, because if we are not fully networked today, we will be socially excluded. This is a reflection that has carried Internet Cities for some time. But we find that for national education it is not so easy, we are not clear about the educational goals – and I speak with expertise because I am a teacher – nor about the equipment, strategies and training. For example, today we no longer learn the list of kings of France because any student who wants to know which king succeeded Henry II will search the internet. What do we do with this reality of access to learning? Now we must learn to learn, learn to sort, learn to use information. Access to knowledge and learning is changing fundamentally.

How do you rate the coordination between local elected officials and national education?

Within the Partners Committee there is real listening and a desire to work in partnership, but at the local level it is much more variable. We can have district inspectors who are aware of these issues and who have inquiries and do very effective work. But we can also face people who have no opinion, no request, no answer. It’s not an issue for her. In this case, it becomes complicated to give answers, especially to parents. These are not just material answers. Of course, when providing teachers with tablets, the pedagogical processes are not the same as when working with blackboard and chalk. That doesn’t mean that digitization is changing everything – hardware isn’t everything – but it raises questions.

The partnership between elected officials and educators must be a two-way street: responding to demand and provoking thought-provoking content.

How is it in your area?

In my community we have developed mobile classes. These are classes using computers and tablets that allow teachers to share content with students in other ways. For older students, students still have access to “Ordival” (one laptop per student), the question of equipment and access has been clarified. The risk is that the gap between what state education offers and what children can do is widening. We have to think about this risk, we have to react to it.

Digitization is becoming a way of life, of relationship, of change, the challenge is that national education and communities work in partnership not to be 20 years behind the development of society. . Fortunately, the Shareholders’ Committee exists because it enables this reflection on the issues.

Are the considerations of the partner committee reflected in practice?

You will be. But we are dependent on aspects of national policies because there can be a gap between announcements and reality. But it is a question that is becoming central, and all the better for that, because otherwise we will fall too far behind.

📌 Read also the interview with Emmanuel Allard, mayor of Allone, vice-president of the municipality of Parthenay-Gâtine, member of the Internet Cities “Digital Education” working group.

💬 “The Digital Education Working Group has enabled us to establish a direct exchange channel with the Ministry of National Education, which is very valuable”

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