From 23-25 November 2016, the international conference ‘E-government and social inclusion of low skilled adults’, organised by the Dutch National Agency Erasmus+ took place. Almost 50 participants from all over Europe shared their knowledge and experiences about this important theme. As one of the organisers, I am more than happy to show the EPALE audience the main results of the seminar.
Let me first explain to you what we mean with the term E-government: the use of electronic communications devices, computers and the Internet to provide public services to citizens. During this conference we focused on the digital interactions between a low educated citizen and the (local or national) government. Goals for the participants were to meet international organisations working on the same theme, share good practices, explore innovative ideas, work together and ask each other questions like:
- What are the consequences of the E-government for these people on their participation in society?
- How can we make sure that the E-government is not having negative effects on the social inclusion of these citizens?
- What can we, participants of the conference, together do to help them?
- What do professionals need (in terms of competences) to be able to give the right support?
- What kind of materials already exist to help this process? Goals of the event
To find an answer to these questions, we developed an interesting programme that started on Wednesday 23rd of November with a visit at the municipality of Utrecht. During this working visit, the process of the municipality Utrecht in the field of e-government was explained. Together with some of the partners of Utrecht (library, Digiwijs, Netrix), the municipality elucidated the manner in which they execute those policies. One of the innovative projects is the digital portal www.uabc.nl (in Dutch), which was illustrated during this visit. The working visit was hosted by Imara Antonius and Peter Budel (municipality of Utrecht).
Activity: Thursday 25 November we started the day with an official opening of the seminar by Ellen Hanselman, programme[MH1] director NA Erasmus+ The Netherlands. The first keynote speaker was
Tineke Netelenbos, EU Digital Champion of the Netherlands and she was followed by Frans van Hoek (NA Erasmus+) who presented the story of Estonia. Activity: e-Estonia means voting in elections from the comfort of your own living room. Filing your income taxreturn in just five minutes. Signing a legally binding contract over the Internet, from anywhere in the world, via your mobile phone. These are just a few of the services that Estonians take advantage of on a regular basis. Interaction among government agencies, and between the government and citizens, has been completely transformed in e-Estonia, quickly making bureaucracy a thing of the past and making the running of all levels of government more efficient than ever before. This keynote presentation showed the fast development of e-government in Estonia. It is an example for many other countries.
Piet Boekhoudt from Digisterker.nl was the third keynote and he told the participants about the Dutch approach. Piet Activity: With the Dutch action plan ‘Digitaal 2017’ the Dutch government aims to stimulate the development and the use of digital public services. Approximately 25% of the Dutch citizens have low digital skills and are not able to use these digital services without support. In order to avoid exclusion of the digitally illiterates, several governmental organisations and specialised service organisations contribute to a national e-government support infrastructure. Public libraries, in particular, play a pivotal role in realising this support infrastructure: they have good national coverage, are accessible, are nationally well organised, and they offer new (non-formal) digital skills education programmes. Furthermore, public libraries increasingly play a local role in empowering citizens, and strategically invest in realising a local support infrastructure.
Later on the day, ten interesting workshops were offered :
- Netherlands: The role of public libraries in helping people with (online) government services
- Netherlands: The User Needs First community: a more usable government = a more inclusive government
- Netherlands: Digimeter: application and possibilities of a digital skills quick scan
- Belgium: E-government: helping to find the way to the labour market for low skilled workers
- Iceland: How can we develop further Interactive Learning Online for adults?
- Netherlands: SeniorWeb: Twenty years of experience helping Dutch citizens online
- Netherlands: How can you help people with low digital skills by e-learning?
- E-government in the Czech Republic and possibility of using it by low educated people
- E-government in Spain: the case of Centro de Educación Permanente Siete Villas & case II
- Netherlands: You have to make mistakes in order to learn. How to use digital tools in education?
We really want to thank all the workshop leaders again for their effort to share knowledge and good practices! If you have any questions, please get in contact with Marieke Hanekamp from the Dutch National Agency by firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are looking for partners who are experts on these topics, please take a look at the Partner Search Function on EPALE. It offers you great opportunities to get in touch with organisations who work on the same theme. And please, all remember: the deadlines for the Erasmus+ calls this year are:
2 February at 12:00 (midday Brussels time) for KA1 projects and by 31 March at 12:00 (midday Brussels time)
for KA2 projects!