AAVIT a Focuson.cz

Michal Čermák: Reading and writing are not sufficient anymore. One needs IT skills to be literate

Commentary & Opinion / International Projects / IT Fitness Test

Michal Čermák: Reading and writing are not sufficient anymore. One needs IT skills to be literate

This interview was produced by Focuson.cz.

For the third year in a row, Czech students can participate in the IT Fitness Test. The results are above expectations, but what are the weaknesses of IT skills in Czech schools? “Teachers across the Visegrad Region performed very similarly. I expected better results,” says Michal Čermák from the Association for Applied Research in IT. The 2024 edition starts on 16 April. Those who are interested in testing their IT skills, do not hesitate to get involved.

In a world where technology is shaping everyday reality, the Czech Republic is trying to strengthen the digital literacy of young people. The IT Fitness Test, coordinated in the Czech Republic by the Association for Applied Research in IT, for the third year now, provides key insights about the current state of digital skills in the Czech Republic. “IT Fitness Test is an initiative of our Slovak colleagues who have been conducting the assessment since 2011. Over time, all countries of the Visegrad Region (V4) and Ukraine have joined in,” explains Čermák.

“The IT Fitness Test is a project aimed at raising awareness of the digital competences of Czech pupils, students and teachers,” explains Čermák. The project is divided into two versions, for primary and secondary schools.

75 000 people in the Czech Republic have tested their digital skills

Each version is divided into five basic thematic blocks. These include the Internet, Security and Computer systems, Problem solving, Office tools, Collaborative tools and social media. “The aim of the project is to raise awareness and assess the current level, but also to identify key areas for improvement,” says Michal Čermák.

The Czech Republic ranked a prestigious second place among the V4 countries in the IT Fitness Test 2023, following Slovakia. “In Slovakia, they have a lead over us,” adds Čermák. Our ranking reflects the quality and focus of the Czech school system on digital education. ” What deserves special attention is the gender dimension of the results, where in one category of secondary schools girls outperformed boys, which disproves common stereotypes,” Čermák emphasises. He also points to differences in digital skills across regions. “Prague performed the best and the Ústí nad Labem region had the lowest results,” Čermák adds to the final report.

Czech students perform well

All teachers were assessed within in the high school version of the test. Their success rates were very balanced across all participating countries. “In the Czech Republic, the average success rate of teachers was 63 %. The average success rate of the pupils was 47 %,” says Čermák, adding that he would still have expected better results from the teachers.

Digital literacy is crucial not only for individual student success, but also for the country’s overall competitiveness. “A country that fails to fully exploit the digital potential of its workforce is harming the economy,” warns Čermák. Data from the IT Fitness Test provides valuable information not only for schools, but also for government institutions and the private sector, where everywhere is looking for ways to better equip young people for a digitally focused job market.

Seniors need to have IT basics

If the country is non-digital, it costs a lot more money. “The main obstacle to the digitalisation of the state is the digital competences of the population,” Čermák says, adding that the basic ones should be compared to the ability to read and write. “We need a long-term goal,” he advises, adding that the state should also be able to ensure coverage with fast internet.

Data from the assessment is then offered to companies and the Ministry of education. “The Ministry of education would then provide a manual or some kind of guideline. It is interesting for companies to know how their employees are performing in the IT environment and they can compare it with the results of students,” Čermák adds.

The list of high-end disciplines and competencies offers a broad insight.The main problem is the lack of qualified IT teachers. Many graduates leave to capitalise on their experience elsewhere. Then they are missing in schools. It might be worth opening Pandora’s box and offering IT teachers more financial compensation,” Čermák reflects on a possible solution.

New AI-focused questions added

In the future, the IT Fitness Test plans to include AI topics, reflecting current trends. “We want the IT Fitness Test to continue to provide relevant data that will help shape the future of Czech education,” concludes Čermák, calling for spreading awareness of the project and its importance for the development of digital literacy in the Czech Republic. The survey can be taken by anyone and is completely anonymous. “Adults should take the test for high schools in a duration of up to 60 minutes,” Čermák concludes.