The Slovenia Times

Provider of IT courses for elderly points finger at minister


Ljubljana - Smart Naris, one of the 29 providers of IT courses for the elderly across the country, has responded to suspension of the courses over alleged irregularities by saying that Minister for Digital Transformation Emilija Stojmenova Duh "is unjustifiably shifting the responsibility for the project's failure onto the contractors".

Smart Naris was the only company the Government Office for Digital Transformation singled out when it urged the national Regional Development Fund on Tuesday to suspend all activities concerning the courses at which citizens aged 55 or more would improve their digital competences.

In Thursday's statement, Smart Naris criticised Minister Stojmenova Duh for communicating with them, and putting pressure on them, through the media.

Smart Naris asked for a meeting but did not receive a reply nor did it receive any explanation about which contractual provisions it had violated.

"We are fulfilling our contractual obligations diligently and responsibly," its director David Mohar said in a statement, saying the minister's statements about them "are unjustified and untrue".

According to the Government Office, Smart Naris allegedly collected applications from the elderly beforehand, changed the dates and locations of the courses, and included unlawful demands in the application forms, such as reimbursement for the costs in case of non-attendance.

Since potential irregularities were also detected in the procedure to select the IT courses providers, the minister is now waiting for a report to take further steps.

Smart Naris, which has 13 years of experience in education and training, noted the terms of the call for applications for providers were set by the Government Office.

It sees the suspension of the digital literacy scheme as bringing confusion among the elderly and providers of the courses, while the latter will also suffer business damage.

Digital literacy courses for those aged at least 55 were introduced by the previous government with a special law passed last February.

Funds for 5,000 elderly to attend them were made available, which Stojmenova Duh criticised a few months ago and announced legislative changes to provide more funds.

Attendance of an IT course was set as a prerequisite for the elderly to qualify for obtaining a EUR 150 digital voucher to buy IT devices.

Digital vouchers were also made available to school kids from the last three years of primary school through university students to buy IT equipment, without the condition of having to attend a digital literacy course.


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