ECDL / ICDL history

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.

2001 - UNESCO introduces the ICDL program to the Arab region

UNESCO introduces the ICDL program to the Arab region

Education ministries as well as government organizations in charge of e-Government initiatives in the Gulf states endorse the ICDL program and adopt it as a computer literacy standard.

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.

2004 - ICDL GCC Foundation operates the ICDL program in the GCC countries 

ICDL GCC Foundation was formed to operate the ICDL program in the GCC countries headquartered in UAE and local offices in Saudi Arabia and Oman.

The ECDL/ICDL community celebrates the granting of the four-millionth ECDL Skills Card to Dr. Abdüllatif Şener, Turkey’s Deputy of Prime Minister.

A network of 1800 ICDL Accredited Training/Testing Centers is established throughout the GCC region, including public and private schools and universities and training organizations

2006 - The ICDL program is endorsed by all GCC member states education ministries

The ICDL program is endorsed by all GCC member states education ministries and the certification becomes a job requirement for teachers and administrators.

ICDL GCC Foundation formed a strategic partnership with ICT Qatar, the body responsible for IT implementation in government and education.

ICDL GCC Foundation formed a strategic partnership with UAE Ministry of Performance Development for Government Departments, the body responsible for the federal government employee development.

2007 - The ECDL/ICDL community celebrates the seven-millionth ICDL registration.

The e-Citizen program is introduced in UAE, Qatar and Kuwait as part of an initiative to promote online services to the general public.

ICDL GCC Foundation opens its local office in Kuwait to support 2 national initiatives: e-Citizen and e-Employee.

ICDL GCC Foundation formed a partnership with the Oman Ministry of Manpower, the body responsible for technical education and vocational training as well as job localization in Oman.

ICDL GCC Foundation formed a partnership with Kuwait’s Central Agency for IT

2009 - ICDL Syllabus Version 5 has been launched


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. 

2013 - New ICDL Profile has been launched


2014 - ICDL announces the formation of ICDL Arabia to take over operations in Egypt

ICDL Arabia will combine ICDL activities in the GCC States, Egypt and Iraq under a single identifiable brand thereby resulting in greater brand uniformity, increased visibility and a more consolidated ICDL presence in the region.