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underdeveloped | PIAP | eservices
The target group of the eHungary Project of the Hungarian Ministry of Economy and Transport are citizens living in underdeveloped regions and the members of lower social classes for whom the only way to be able to compete on the various fields of life is to have access to well-working community access points. The eHungary Program addresses this problem with the introduction of the eCounsellor network â€“ a service through which professionals provide assistance for citizens in the effective usage of electronic information, services and knowledge. The eHungary points thus will become the servers of communities through personalized assistance. eHungary points not only provide governmental services but will also facilitate the usage of civil society and business-related eServices. One of the main goals of the Program is to decrease the digital divide of disadvantaged groups, to assist underdeveloped communities, and to strengthen the economic competitiveness of underdeveloped regions.
Hungary is legging way behind other countries concerning digital literacy, with 60% of the adult population being digitally illiterate. This means that the majority of the people living in underdeveloped regions of the country and the members of lower social classes do not have any knowledge in the use of modern info-communicational tools that are vital in today's world. For these citizens the only way to be able to compete in the various fields of life is to have access to well-working community access points, where they can be guided into the enchanting Internet world by committed professionals.
The first official government strategy that explicitly discussed electronic inclusion as a priority was the Hungarian Information Society Strategy (HISS), in the framework of which the eHungary Programme was launched. HISS is presently undergoing revision in line with current challenges and trends. It will however be based on and in line with the revised Lisbon Strategy and its i2010 policy framework. The Hungarian Information Society Strategy (HISS) was adopted in November 2003 by the former Ministry of Informatics and Communications with the substantive focus on presenting a strategy by which ICT tools and services help to reduce traditional social exclusion. It also aimed to realize a much wider social integration and create equal opportunities. The strategy focuses on areas where disadvantages mainly concern the access and use of ICT tools. The objectives and the programmes implanting these objectives of HISS entirely correspond to the strategy and strategic programmes of the European Union, to the eEurope+ and eEurope 2005 Action Plans, which makes it possible for Hungary to join to the EC programmes supporting eEurope (e.g. IST, eContent, eSafety, IDA, etc.). The National Broadband Strategy (2005-2013) also supports the development of broadband infrastructure including the installation of public internet access points (PIAPs) in villages and small settlements. The strategy prescribes that everyone should have the opportunity to reach a modern computer and applications, a broadband network as well as a professional support, consultant in their living environment at the access points. In 2007 the eHungary programme was renewed to eHungary 2.0. by the Ministry of Economy and Transport in order to operate only effective PIAPs with a personal support service (eCounsellor network).
Based on the pilot operation of the eHungary Program 1.0. it has become clear that there is an acute need for the actual development of the program, since it proved that tools without knowledge on their use do not reach the target groups. Therefore, 2007 was the year of development, innovation, and the introduction of additional services for the eHungary Program. This started with the initiation of the eHungary Program 2.0 The main goals of this second stage are the following: â€¢ Narrowing the digital divide â€¢ Equal opportunities in the information society â€¢ Assist underdeveloped communities and marginalised groups â€¢ Strengthen the economic competitiveness of underdeveloped regions The three pillars of these plans are: â€¢ Reformed governance through eGovernance, â€¢ Personalised assistance through the creation of the eCounsellor Network, and â€¢ The insurance of integrated and quality-ensured eServices through the eHungary Center and eHungary Portal.
The future: â€¢ 2008: eHungary points will only function in integrated community spaces â€¢ 2009: eCounsellors will assist the population on all access points â€¢ 2010: eHungary points will become one-stop-shops of the reformed governance â€¢ 2011: PPP-based sustainability With the successful operation of the Program approximately 1 million citizens will receive basic digital training in five years. These achievements will help to significantly reduce digital illiteracy and thus help narrow the Digital Divide. The Program ensures that eInclusion and equal opportunities in the Information Society will become a reality in Hungary as well.
Based on the pilot phase of the Program it has become clear that giving tools without the knowledge to use them is not an entirely successful strategy. People need guidance in the process of acculturation to the Digital Society and community access points without serving personnel are not sufficient . We have learnt that being an eCounsellor is a very social profession that requires the individuals doing the job to be committed to their profession, be open to the people and their problems and possess a strong sense of social receptivity. This is why the experts chosen for this job are preferably not IT experts or system administrators because experience shows that those who know too much about computers and Internet have a hard time explaining the basics and make everything look very complicated. Instead, the ideal eCounsellor is a sensible person, who understands how things work and finds joy in sharing this with other people because he knows that he can help make peopleâ€™s lives easier.