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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki


5. Participation

5.9 E-participation

Young people’s e-participation is now being analysed by government agencies. It is present in two fields. The first field is about counteracting the e-exclusion of certain groups of youth, mainly those from rural areas and/or socially degraded. The other field means to ensure the e-participation of government institutions and local governments and adapting their communication methods to the young generation’s communication practices. Preventing e-exclusion is an element of government strategies and sectoral documents are prepared mainly in the following ministries: Digitalisation, National Education, and Family, Labour and Social Policy. IT education beginning in the first year of primary school is compulsory. It is provided during all years of compulsory education (till the age of 18). The improvement of IT education quality at all education levels and its usefulness is being widely discussed.

The aforementioned e-participation of government institutions involves activities aimed at increasing the social communication of governmental and non-governmental institutions by using social media. All of the main government institutions have their own websites. There is one common web system for all government institutions which is called the Bulletin of Public Information(BIP -Biuletyn Informacji Publicznej). It consists of unified public records online, collected in a system of standardised pages created with the general public in mind. Institutions whose participation in the BIP is compulsory are: public authorities, local government units, self-regulatory organisations (SRO – profession or industry based), courts and tribunals, trade unions, political parties and all institutions performing public tasks financed from public funds.

Data made available on the BIP is regulated by the Polish Law on Access to Public Information passed on 6 September 2001  It is based on Article 61 of the Constitution of Poland which provides for the right to information and authorises the Polish Parliament to enact laws enshrining this right. The Law became effective in January 2002. BIP gives access to public information, public data and public assets held by public bodies, private bodies exercising public tasks, trade unions and political parties. Requests regarding specific items can be made either orally or in writing. Requests must be replied to within 14 days. Information regarding all vacancies in public administration must be announced in the BIP system; which is important from the viewpoint of young people. The introduction of e-administration in Poland is quite an advanced process, however, there are still some coverage gaps.

Regulations adopted in 2012 obligate all public administration units and all entities performing public tasks to the full adaptation of their websites to the needs of people with disabilities. The adaptation process should be performed in accordance with the rules of the WCAG 2.0 standard. A report by the Supreme Audit Office shows that the majority of audited websites partly fulfil accessibility requirements, however, only about 10% pass all of the specified parameters. Other sources state that a high level of accessibility in evident only on the websites of central institutions.

Issues of preventing e-exclusion are also dealt with by non-governmental organisations. Their aim is to ensure free access to online resources to all citizens regardless of their age, disability, affluence, equipment and software. The Foundation “Visible”(Widzialni) monitors the measurement of access to the networks of various social groups and implements projects aimed at those who are potentially at the biggest risk of e-exclusion - the project “Accessible to you!”(Dostępni dla ciebie!) may be considered an example of such activities. Its aim was to provide motivation to disabled youth as part of the Digital Competences Centre(Centrum Cyfrowych Kompetencji).