Share article:
Share article:

40% of Belgians have poor digital skills, survey says

© PxHere

Almost 30% of poor families have no internet connection at home, while 40% risk digital exclusion either because of poor internet skills or no online access, according to the Barometer of Digital Inclusion produced by the King Baudouin Foundation.

The document looks at the connectivity of the Belgian population, particularly in the light of recent events.

Since the arrival of the coronavirus earlier this year, the importance of being connected to the internet has increased – for example for school students and for teleworkers – while the means of connecting has become more crucial.

The Foundation looked at the issue from the point of view of poor families compared to more well-off families, and found that the poor are digitally disadvantaged in a variety of ways.

The inequality shows up at even the most basic level. While 90% of Belgians have an internet connection at home, among those on low incomes (less than €1,200 a month) 29% have no connection, compared to only 1% of those on €3,000 a month or more.

Among the population as a whole, 40% are considered to be at risk of digital exclusion, either because they have no connection or because they have poor digital skills.

When it comes to poor families, however, that number goes up to 75%. The figure for the better-off may be much lower than that, but it is still a surprisingly high 22%.

The document also brings to light a more recent problem: where new and cheaper technology stands in the way of full digital inclusion.

In the case of distance learning, a feature of the lockdown, the question of access to computers became important. And while most young people have a smartphone these days, that technology does not lend itself well to school tuition.

So, in households than even have access to a computer or laptop, children found themselves having to take turns to follow their lessons, smartphone or no smartphone.

Access to the internet alone is not the only important issue. Equally important are the quality of the connection, the ability to connect via various devices, the age of the equipment and the number of computers per family,” commented Périne Brotcorne of the university of Louvain-la-Neuve, which helped in collating statistics provided by national and regional governments.

On the matter of digital skills, while 85% of Belgians aged between 16 and 74 use the internet on a daily basis for online services such as shopping or banking, 57% of those with a low level of education, and 56% of those on low incomes, have never yet used the internet to send documents to a government administration, even when that was required.

The corona crisis has increased the focus on the problems experienced by various groups in having virtual access to education, work, social contacts and so on,” the Foundation concludes.

As a result, they are excluded from a whole range of fundamental rights. The digital divide is not an inevitability. By better measuring digital reality, we can better understand the needs of people who are excluded and develop appropriate actions, both in terms of access to digital technologies and the teaching of digital skills.”

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

Latest news

‘More concern and false impressions’: colds are not worse than before, experts say
While it seems like cold viruses are hitting especially hard this autumn, with more severe and longer-lasting symptoms, doctors are saying that this ...
More women take police selection tests in Belgium
The selection tests to become a police inspector have more and more female participants, according to figures released by Interior Affairs Minister ...
‘Absurd’: all Brussels schools should have the same Covid rules
Several city councillors for education in Brussels are calling to abolish the "absurd" differences in coronavirus measures for Dutch-speaking and ...
Massive renovations for iconic venue in the heart of Brussels
Brussels concert hall Ancienne Belgique has announced plans to renovate the AB Café and the AB Salon and is looking for a contractor fit for the job. ...
Display of child’s room in Brussels raises awareness of foster families
An exhibit that features a fictitious child’s bedroom has been on display since Tuesday at the Place d'Armes in Namur, with the support of the ...
Test results show pupils have fallen behind in Flemish schools
Learning delays have been reported in almost all subject areas in Flanders since the start of the pandemic, a trend that continued in 2021, a ...
Belgium considers relaxing testing rules for UK travellers
At the next Consultative Committee meeting, Belgium will look into relaxing the testing and entry policy for travellers coming from the United ...
Jette libraries start giving plants away with books
Visitors to libraries in the Brussels municipality of Jette will soon be able to pick up a free plant along with a book, thanks to the new Plantotek ...
‘Do what you want, but do it as safely as possible,’ experts warn
As the daily number of new coronavirus infections exceeds 3,000 for the first time since May, infectious disease expert Erika Vlieghe and ...
‘We’re running dry’: Brussels teacher shortage reaches critical levels
The teacher shortage in Brussels is affecting schools across language borders, according to Brussels’ Minister for Multilingualism and Dutch ...
New coronavirus infections above 3,000 for first time since May
The number of people testing positive for coronavirus has skyrocketed to the highest rate since the start of May 2021. Between 9 and 15 October, ...
Belgium in Brief: Getting To The Airport
When I saw the news of plans for a tram line and cycle path to connect Brussels' outskirts to the airport, my first reaction was sheer joy.  Let ...