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The History of ICDL and ECDL

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1995 - CEPIS Task Force Creates ECDL Concept

In 1995, the Council of European Professional Informatics Societies (CEPIS) created a task force, supported by the European Commission through the ESPRIT research programme, to examine how to raise the levels of digital literacy throughout Europe. The new certification programme was launched as the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) in Sweden in August 1996.

1997 - ECDL Foundation Established

ECDL quickly gained European-wide acceptance and a clear need was identified for the project to establish a central coordinating body to ensure a consistently high standard of implementation in all European countries. On the 8th January 1997, the ECDL Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation, limited by guarantee with no share capital, was formally established in Dublin, Ireland.

1999 - ICDL Introduced

As ECDL gained prominence in Europe, the number of candidates exceeded 1 million and continued to rise; this success attracted the attention of countries outside of Europe who began to take a strong interest in the concept.  ECDL was subsequently introduced outside of Europe, where the certification became known as ICDL (International Computer Driving Licence).

Computer societies and international organisations in Africa and South America began promoting ICDL, and a milestone was reached in 1999 when UNESCO, through its Cairo office, signed an agreement with ECDL Foundation to become the national operator for several Arab States. Shortly afterwards, ICDL was launched in the North America and Asia.

2003 - ECDL / ICDL Advanced Introduced

ECDL Foundation expanded its programme range in 2003, with the launch of ECDL / ICDL Advanced. This high-level certification programme was designed for those who have successfully reached ECDL / ICDL skill levels and wished to further enhance their computer proficiency.

Subsequently, additional programmes were launched. Some focused on entry-level skills, while others were more specialised such as web editing.

2007 - ECDL / ICDL Syllabus 5 Launched

Since its beginning, the ECDL / ICDL syllabus has continually evolved to reflect changes in technology.

In 2007, the ECDL Foundation conducted a substantial review of ECDL / ICDL Syllabus 4.0, to reflect ongoing advances in technologies. As a result, ECDL / ICDL Syllabus 5.0 was launched that year. 

2009-Over 9 Million Candidates in 148 Countries

In February of 2009,José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, became the 9 millionth ECDL candidate. At the ceremony, the success of the ECDL programme was highlighted, as well as the necessity of keeping investment in digital skills high on the public policy agendas of all EU Member States.

2012 - 12 million Candidates in over 148 countries

By 2012, 12 million people had taken the ECDL / ICDL. The ECDL Foundation has an international network of 24,000 Test Centres in 148 countries.