In Poland two partners – FRSI and Cities on Internet Association – are involved in the project on e-Participation. Their activities target two different groups: Cities on Internet Association reach out to the elderly while FRSI to young people.
About European e-Participation Day organized by FRSI
For celebration of the European e-Participation Day FRSI proposed to the libraries a scenario of 2-hour workshop for junior high school pupils. The 9 page scenario was prepared by the Civis Polonus Foundation based on the Day’s guidelines. The scenario included:
- a Power Point presentation to show on each stage of the workshop
- additional Power Point presentation to present e-Participation tools
- knowledge material for the organizers on e-Participation tools and EU policies for youth employment, mobility and education
- instructions for the working groups
- questionnaires for providing feedback on the tools
The English version of the scenario is attached here.
Workshops for the youth were organized by 6 public libraries and 2 schools. In total 8 local workshops involved 168 youth aged 14-17 years. Most workshops were held on 7th and 9th of May 2015. In most cases they were run by librarians.
During the workshop youth chose one of the problems they identified as important and – using the e-Participation tools (at least 4 per workshop) – tried to raise it on the EU level. The chosen problems were:
- unemployment (Godkowo library),
- participation of the youth in the social life of a city (Kudowa Zdrój library),
- addictions (school in Koło),
- lack of non-formal education (library in Barcin),
- form of spending free time (library in Choszczno),
- alcoholism and lack of extra out of school education (Palecznica library)
- lack of knowledge on e-Participation tools (school in Żnin).
The workshops allowed to strengthen the links between young people and the EU as well as to improve citizens’ attitude. Thanks to the workshop, the youth in Kudowa-Zdrój decided to establish the Youth City Council: the youth wanted to make their voice heard also on the local level. The organizers appreciated the scenario and accompanying materials, which allowed them to run workshops without specialized knowledge.
e-Participation Day organized by Cities on Internet Association
Cities on Internet Association (COI) conducted a campaign among all of its 3,000 volunteer e-Facilitators (called Digital Lighthouse keepers, Latarnicy PCRS), to encourage them to take on the subject of e-Participation in their courses with digitally excluded seniors. Seniors are the main target for e-inclusion activities by COI and they are being realized through involvement of e-facilitators/Lighthouse Keepers. They were contacted mainly through Facebook and http://latarnicy.pl portal, although a number of them were talked to over a phone & Skype. COI prepared a guide on ways in which a citizen may get involved in decision making process on local, regional, national and European level. The guide was also distributed among Lighthouse Keepers with the intent to be used on May 7 activities as well as in later courses for seniors. In addition, the brochure was also distributed.
May 7 activities
The event took place in a number of villages around the city of Tarnów. The theme of e-Participation was all the more current due to the fact that Poland was holding presidential elections on May 10th, with the second round on May 24th and public issues were prominent in daily conversations. As it happens, politics counts among favorite topics for Polish seniors and as a side effect – they are also quite active citizens when it comes to local issues. They are however the group which is the most disadvantaged when it comes to digital tools and possibilities offered by the Internet.
The event was coordinated by Paweł Jachimek, one of COI’s more active Lighthouse Keepers. In the course of the day he traveled to a number of villages where he arranged a series of meetings with seniors. His mission was to show them possibilities of civic participation with the use of the Internet.
Each meeting was conducted with the help of tablet and according to the following plan: first part was dedicated to demonstrating the ways in which a citizen may access public information related to the country as a whole, the government, specific city or municipality. In this part participants of each meeting were asked to access the following pages:
- https://www.bip.gov.pl/ – National electronic public bulletin which every municipality, public institution or other publically financed body needs to implement. Data within BIP includes, among others: scope of activities carried out by the institution in question, employees, income declarations of managerial staff, results of public procurement carried out by the institution, documentation produced, decisions published, revenues, expenditures, etc.
- https://mojepanstwo.pl/ – collection of public information related to the State
- http://bip.gminatarnow.pl/ – public bulletin for the city of Tarnow.
In the second part seniors learned about ways in which they can influence decisions and financial plans of local and national institutions:
- http://budzetyobywatelskie.pl/ – a bottom up initiative which gathers information about all participatory budgets in Poland
- http://konsultacje.gov.pl/ – a national portal for consultation of all legal acts
- http://ec.europa.eu/yourvoice/consultations/index_pl.htm/ – EU consultation portal
The last part of the meeting was devoted to ways in which a citizen may submit a complaint or a motion:
- http://www.petycje.pl/ – petitions portal
- http://www.petycjeonline.com/ – similar to the above
- http://ec.europa.eu/citizens-initiative/public/welcome?lg=pl)/ – website for submitting EU level citizens initiatives
In closing and to touch on current affairs, the Lighthouse Keeper asked participants to search out information about candidates in the current presidential election, including their Facebook profiles, their presence in other social media and to look at the http://www.latarnikwyborczy.pl/ website. In total, 31 seniors attended meetings.
Feedback from participants confirmed that citizens feel the European aspect of public discourse is detached from daily life and distant. Average citizen does not understand what the responsibilities of the Commission, European Parliament and other EU bodies are, therefore they see no point in participation at that level. This feeling is further enhanced by the fact that requirements put forth by EU in case of petitions are too restrictive and discourage even the most active citizens from taking any action.