The Slovenia Times

Call for digital competences courses for elderly cancelled

Science & Education

Ljubljana - Minister for Digital Transformation Emilija Stojmenova Duh has announced that a call under which providers of digital competences courses for the elderly have been selected will be cancelled, while new calls are already in the making. The development comes after a review showed irregularities and unjustified use of taxpayer money.

The call will be formally cancelled by the country's Regional Development Fund, which was authorised to implement the digital literacy courses, on Friday.

All providers of the courses for those aged 55 or more that were selected as part of the May call will be refunded for the activities they carried out until 25 August.

This is when the fund suspended, upon Stojmenova Duh's Office for Digital Transformation's appeal, all activities related to the courses pending the findings of the review.

All those who have already completed at least 80% of their selected course will receive a EUR 200 voucher for purchase of digital devices.

The rest of the funds now intended for vouchers will be channelled into new courses that will be available to all who want to improve their digital skills and expected to be launched in October or later towards the end of the year.

Some of the funds will also come from the government's annulment of the previous government's decision to open Slovenia's office in Silicon Valley, said the minister.

Attending a course to improve digital competences was set as a condition to get the voucher under the law promoting digital literacy, passed in February.

Stojmenova Duh said the call was being annulled after a thorough review found it not to be in line with this law.

More specifically, the call did not distinguish between over-55s with low or no digital competences and those with advanced digital competences.

The review also found the law to be incompatible with the ban on discrimination, something pointed out by the human rights ombudsman, NGOs and a number of citizens.

To allow for new, non-discriminatory courses, legislative changes are being drafted and will soon be discussed by the government.

The changes will however not affect vouchers for youths - children in the last three years of primary school, all secondary school kids and university students have until the end of November to spend their EUR 200 voucher on digital devices, with no course attendance set as a condition.

The minister also responded to criticism from some digital courses providers that the government had not responded to their queries following media reports of alleged irregularities.

She said the Regional Development Fund had concluded contracts with the selected providers - 29 in total, so her office had no legal basis to communicate with them. However, from now on, this will change.


More from Science & Education