IGF 2021 WS #273 Leveraging Private-Public Partnership for Digital Skills

Tuesday, 7th December, 2021 (13:30 UTC) - Tuesday, 7th December, 2021 (14:30 UTC)
Conference Room 6

Organizer 1: Salma Abbass, IBM
Organizer 2: Samar Baba, IBM
Organizer 3: Soufiene Chahbani, IBM

Speaker 1: Melissa Sassi, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Milton Cabral , Government, African Group
Speaker 3: JOSSLYN Medina, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Pedro Lopes, Government, African Group
Speaker 5: Jake Bell, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 6: Nadine Moreira Tavares, Technical Community, Eastern European Group

Additional Speakers

Jake Bell: Partnerships Manager, Code.org


Salma Abbass, Private Sector, African Group

Online Moderator

Samar Baba, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Salma Abbass, Private Sector, African Group


Round Table - Circle - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

Advancing global digital cooperation: What opportunities are provided by the current focus on digital cooperation resulting from the UN Secretary-General's Roadmap for digital cooperation? What role should the IGF play (and how) in advancing global digital cooperation?

Additional Policy Questions Information: Policy questions addressed: 1- What are the different current barriers to provide equal and efficient access to digital literacy and digital skills? 2- How can we create a common international framework for enterprise computing and digital skill-building by focusing on active involvement of governmental and non-governmental bodies, as well as large enterprises that can be inclusive to all to counter the digital divide? 3- What are the policies and potential actions necessary to address to improve global digital cooperation and to create a meaningful partnership between ministries, the private sector, public sector, UN bodies, local celebrities, local-language content, and social media influencers?

Digital technologies are creating profound and accelerated transformations of business activities, processes, competencies, and skills for everyone. The digital skills gap that exists between formal education in the global community and the critical practical skills required in the job market, which seems to be widening every day. Technological literacy which is encompassed in the digital, media, and information literacy plays key roles in building the capabilities of future generations to boost their employability in the digital era. And, although a lot of progress has been made during the past decade to allow access to digital education and tech, there are still barriers especially in the developing world that slowdown the pace of digital transformation and employability, including the economic situation of some of the underrepresented communities which weighs on their access due to affordability, not to mention the lack of infrastructure in some communities…especially rural ones. In addition, cultural norms in some countries affect access to digital capacity building for a part of the society, including young girls and women who face more obstacles than their male counterparts. The result of all these obstacles is the fact that we encounter today of a world digitally divided between developing and developed countries, but, also from a gender perspective. The proposal we are presenting to face these challenges and provide better access to digital education is a case study with a precedent in Cape Verde that was demonstrated through a public private partnership between IBM and the Government of Cape Verde that involved creating a National Day of Code, which provided digital skills education readiness to communities with localized content. This concept can be further built upon by advancing digital skills even further with a National Week of Code where localized content includes digital literacy, digital use, digital security, digital identity, digital emotional intelligence, digital safety, digital communication and digital rights combined with essential coding and computer-science skills to be ready for the future job market, as demonstrated in the IEEE Standard for Digital Skills & Readiness that was ratified in 2020. In a multi-stakeholder collaboration between governmental and non-governmental bodies, private multinationals, local NGO’s, artists, and influencers, the session will explore how the Government of Cape Verde collaborated with IBM, local partners from Cape Verde, code.org, as well as local celebrities to empower people in their local language to explore digital capacity-building to showcase how anyone can code. The speakers will present an on-the-ground experience with the Cape Verde National Day of Code and how they leveraged a partnership with other stakeholders to attract the youth into digital skill-building. The session will serve as a call to action to create an International Day of Code recognized around the world for a moment to demystify computer science, inspire local communities to explore tech as an opportunity for reducing inequalities, and a way of reducing the gender divide.


4. Quality Education
5. Gender Equality
10. Reduced Inequalities
17. Partnerships for the Goals

Targets: This is a great opportunity for the world to confirm their commitment to encourage women and girls’ participation in STEM education. Our joint goal is to inspire girls to pursue STEM-related careers, boost their digital skills as a driver to achieving sustainable societies, and gain access to high-paying jobs in the tech sector or related fields. Powered by IBMZ, the session focuses on capacity building and sharing digital skills vital for the future Tech job market including Personal Branding, Design Thinking, Community Building & Digital Literacy skills to boost youth and girls' participation in digital skills. The aim is to empower women pursuing tech careers and boost their digital skills as a driver to achieving sustainable societies, with a special focus on engagement, and community awareness. The initiative is based on creating a national day of code powered by various stakeholders including local NGOs, Government representatives, private sector representatives and global influencers which emphasizes the partnership for achieving the other 3 SDG's goals.


The aim of this workshop is to present diverse perspectives into how we can bridge the digital gap existing in today’s world between developed and developing countries, and also between genders by inciting the creation of a common framework to digital skills capacity building. A multi-stakeholder approach will be presented that involved creating “A National Day of Code” in Cape Verde that empowered youth to explore digital skills and prepare for the future job market. How can this be replicated elsewhere? Join us to find out.

Expected Outcomes

The outcome for the audience: Proposals on how to leverage a multi-stakeholder approach to tackle the digital gap will be shared by the speakers and the participants with a lens on the precedent set in Cape Verde in 2020, which will result in an action plan and long-term partnership strategy to create an International Day of Code, to be implemented in various nation states around the world that show interest in taking the opportunity forward. Expected outcome related to the IGF Theme: The new and innovative suggestion to connecting the digital divide presented during the session will contribute to the conversation on how to enable easier and more fair access to digital skills, including how to inspire new audiences to see tech as a place for them. This suggestion will inspire policymakers, UN agencies, governments, influencers, local organizations and big tech to come together for the promotion of a digitally skilled world through the localization of content during the “International Day of Code” and to create a new method addressing tailored and customized digital building programs to communicate during that day so it allows for citizens including youth, women, and students to explore building blocks of enterprise computing and digital skills.

Discussion facilitation: The workshop will be organized as a highly interactive discussion between experts bringing their views and experience about digital capacity-building and how we can tackle this challenge from different angles. The engagement of participants both online and physically present in the forum is a focus point. Their contribution is empowered through the design-thinking and the freeform Q&A session. The ultimate purpose is to bring to life the International Day of Code by incorporating the knowledge of the industry and government experts combined with the views of the participants to present both to decision makers. The first part will introduce to the audience the conceptualization and the current barriers that causes the digital divide between different areas of the world, with each panellist presenting their unique opinion. And the moderator will then be posing questions on the potential solutions the speakers see to respond to these challenges, which will lead to the “International Day of Code” proposal. The representative of the Cape Verde Government will give feedback on their experience as a concrete example working on an initiative that help brings digital literacy program to live via their National Day of Code in collaboration with IBM Z and code.org, and then the moderator will guide both speakers and participants to go to the breakout rooms. Each panellist will be leading a breakout room, introducing some questions online to kickstart the small session and to encourage participants to freely express their opinions on how to bring this proposal to live, with on-ground actions, policy review ideas, curriculum including intersection of arts and computer-science, etc. The moderator role will be to guarantee a good flow of discussion, to ensure that the participants angles are well presented and taken into consideration during the smaller breakout rooms, and that their questions are given the floor to be answered to. Our workshop will be further engaging to allow free brainstorming and idea generation to ensure ideas and interventions are shared and secured for all. The summary at the end by the moderator will ensure that all viewpoints are heard, the learning outcomes are clear and that the practical future steps are represented.

The agenda of the workshop: The proposed workshop is a 60-minute panel discussion. The agenda is as below: 1- Introduction of all speakers, the goal of the workshop, and opening remarks of the topic for each speaker. (10 minutes) 2- Panel discussion between speakers and moderator with presentation (30 minutes) 3- Design-thinking exercise (10 minutes) 4- Summary of key points and conclusions by the moderator (5 minutes) 5- Q&A’s slot (5 minutes)

Preparation: A preparatory online meeting will be organised including all parties (speakers, moderator and organiser) before the date of the workshop to make sure that everyone is well versed with the discussion that will take place, and to be introduced to other stakeholders participating in the session.

Online Participation

Usage of IGF Official Tool. Additional Tools proposed: Additional tools: Zoom to host the breakout sessions. Google Jamboard: to lead the design thinking for members contributions

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

An important takeaway is the need to create a competencies and skills based curriculum for students to integrate the digital skills education into the formal educational curriculum and to emphasize the importance of localizing the content in local language and edit the content to fit the local references and local situation of the target audience including youth and underrepresented communities from girls and young people coming from rural areas.

The second takeaway is the need to introduce the train the trainer concept into the digital capacity-building programs so that it includes training the teachers on how to introduce digital skills to students and younger generation and train the teachers on how to use digital tools in their curriculum to enhance digital skills based education in the formal educational institutions from schools, universities and vocational training.

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

Our first call to action is for the local ministry of education and ministry of higher education in each country to provide train the trainer curriculum on digital skills to the certified teachers that will deliver digital competency based curriculum to the students.

The second call to action is for the big tech companies and local non-governmental organizations working on digital capacity building to collaborate with ministry of education and scientific research into providing localized educational curriculum and tools that address the digital skills needed for the future job market so younger generations can efficiently integrate the job market with the right set of digital skills.

Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

The session started by addressing the digital gap that exists in today's world while focusing on analyzing the commanding factors that influence access to digital education. These factors revolve around barriers related to infrastructure and the divide between the urban and rural areas. A key factor within is access to devices and internet connectivity, which should be implemented in a framework of meaningful connectivity, and ensured by the governments to allow the citizens who cannot afford it, to have meaningful access. The internet should be considered as a basic commodity that everyone should have. Other critical factors are related to cultural barriers in the form of a gender divide and access to digital literacy. A substantial factor mentioned during the discussion is providing a doorway to a standardized framework of digital skills curriculum to face the digital divide. This would come as a complementary to the idea of meaningful access, as we have to upskill the users with the right competencies to be able to use the technology and make use of digital education coupled with meaningful access. An additional point that was raised by the online audience was the weight of financial resources in the process of accessing the internet and how it affects the right to digital access all over the world.

The second part of the session was allocated to discuss the channels that can be leveraged to ensure digital capacity building for future generations. Unplugged channels and offline resources were mentioned as a way of delivering digital education while overcoming the current connectivity issues. However, the latest point shall not be ignored, and a solution to that, the CAPE framework was suggested, which addressed the digital issues in the form of a pyramid with capacity as its base, then access, followed by participation and experience. And, all these factors form the pieces to build meaningful access and connectivity, that reinforce digital abilities.

Furthermore, some key resources to combat the digital gap suggested are of utmost importance to digital capacity building, including providing localized curriculum to the future workforce to empower them to not just be consumers of the digital world but contributors. In addition, governments should work on introducing computer-science and related STEM topics into the formal education system to ensure reducing the current digital gap. This shall be translated into changing some policies and instruments to allow people from different segments to get access to data and connectivity. A key point related to this is not only providing this access to students and future generations but also to the teachers and instructors who are going to deliver this curriculum. A concrete example that was implemented on the ground was the project of a web lab introduced in the school systems of Capo Verde, where students learn coding and robotics in an environment providing meaningful access to digital skills and free connectivity.

Another essential resource is connecting the users with role models to build their digital capacity in various arrays while collaborating with the non-governmental sector, the artists, and celebrities to ensure, not only a complete digital curriculum but also guarantee the younger generation motivation to learn this curriculum by leveraging the intersection between computer science, digital skills, and arts and providing engaging content. 

To conclude the session, building an international framework of a public-private partnership to scale knowledge about digital skills access is the solution to ned the digital divide. The core of the proposal is the adoption of a multi-stakeholder approach to bring different audiences to embrace its implementation. An international day of code can be a step into actively bringing together NGOs, governments from different countries, educational institutions, the UN agencies, and intergovernmental organizations, along with tech companies from the private sector to work together to provide a meaningful fundamental digital education to everyone.