Once upon a time, a European consortium sponsored a basic computer literacy credential called the International Computer Driving License, or ICDL. I'm not sure if it was a matter of uptake outside Europe, or if it's because various European -- especially British (these credentials are the brainchildren of the British Computer Society, or BCS, a veritable fountain of standards and guidelines for computing across the Commonwealth) -- interests have decided to invest in ECDL as part of local competency and capability guidelines and requirements. Whatever the case may be, you'll now find both ICDL and ECDL tracks available around the world and in Europe, respectively. If you dig around right here at PITC, in fact, you'll even find an ICDL Exam Cram to read, though it's probably at least a little out-of-date by now (it published in 2004).
The ECDL is getting strong uptake in the British school system, where it's available in both Level 1 and Level 2 flavors. The Level 1 is pretty much a must-have for all graduates, and the Level 2 is gaining currency as a marker of useful educational attainment that might actually lead to gainful employment. The ICDL continues outside of Europe where it has divided the world roughly by continents into Africa, Asia, The Americas, with a special container for the Middle East.
The ECDL Foundation coordinates and controls ICDL and ECDL programs and requirements globally.
The ECDL Foundation appears to be the home for all things ICDL and ECDL. Their primary mission is to support "continuous development of ICT [Information and Communication Technologies] skills through the use of structured training and certification programmes." According to stats on the organizations "About Us" page, its offerings have been extended to "...over 13 million people, in 41 languages, across 150 countries, through a network of over 24,000 test centres." By my reckoning, this puts them in a league with the biggest commercial certification programs around, including the likes of Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, widely regarded as the "800-lb gorillas of IT certification."
The story on ECDL/ICDL that caught my eye in this case, and prompted this very blog post, appeared in GoCertify.com's Certification Watch (Vol 17 #2) on January 17, 2014. It cites a British Computer Society article entitled "BCS ECDL qualification listed in performance tables for 2016," which explains that the Level 2 ECDL becomes eligible for performance points that year. Because performance points are required to matriculate, this means that the credential is becoming sufficiently integrated into the British secondary school curriculum to count toward graduation in a range from 40 points for passing to 58 points for passing with distinction (a total of 440 points is required for Admission into British colleges and universities, which means ECDL Level 2 could account for 10% or more of that total).
I'm very glad to see IT elements becoming tightly integrated into secondary education. I believe that basic computing literacy, and some appreciation for IT and the many skill sets it supports, can only become more important and relevant to working life in the years and decades ahead. I'd like to see something with similar structure and rigor take hold in high school curricula here in the USA. Hopefully, this is one area where we could go international without triggering fears of a UN-led conspiracy to subvert the constitution and get everybody and anybody under "mind control!"