The European Dialogue, in cooperation with the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of St. Cyril and Methodius in Trnava, organized the National Civic Hackathon on October 21, as one of the activities of the international project EuroChangeMakers, supported by the Europe for Citizens program. The workshop was also one of the activities of the “Conference on the Future of Europe”, which aims to hold a series of debates with citizens of the EU Member States, where they express opinion on what a common European future should look like.
Our National Civic Hackathon was focused on discussing and proposing concrete solutions for the future of Europe. It was implemented through a design thinking method that encourages creativity and team spirit. The participants were divided into 5 teams, each working on a different topic.
Team number 1 dealt with the topic of “Digital Transformation”. In this context, they see an increase in European cyber security as a great need and have sought to design a series of tools to make the fight against misinformation more effective. According to them, the problem of disinformation belongs to the common cyber security and disinformation campaigns are part of the hybrid war that is currently present in various spheres of our lives.
Their joint proposal focused on the following objectives:
- To increase the promotion of verified channels
- To inform ordinary users about possible threats as well as increasing citizens’ confidence in using digital tools.
The group came up with the following suggestions:
- It would be very effective to create an interactive map where the user can view verified and relevant resources and sites from each EU member state. The map will also include links to websites of state authorities dealing with cyber security. The creation of such a digital tool should help to raise EU citizens ‘awareness on the one hand and to increase citizens’ confidence in using digital tools on the other.
- To include into school’s curricula the course on the information verification course, the development of digital skills and the critical thinking skills.
- Providing information to the older generation of citizens, which would focus on what is misinformation, what is the risk behind, or how misinformation arises. The most effective way would be publishing news in the most widely read local and regional media.
Group 2 has chosen the topic of environmental protection and climate change. They based their idea on the thesis that nature serves us all and we have the right to use it, but it is the duty of every person to protect it and to take care of it to the best of our ability. Their aim is to maintain or improve the quality of the environment, including humans, while respecting the principles of sustainable development.
Based on the above-mentioned goal, they set the following suggestions for improvement:
- It is very important to take care of the environment from an early age, so it is necessary to include it in school curricula a course that will lead and teach children recycling, saving water, electricity, etc.
- Implement a broad campaign on social media that will show people various tips and tricks on how to achieve a sustainable “ECO HOUSEHOLD”.
- Create an educational mobile app where people would also mark their achievement in this regard, add a photo how they saved energy etc. There would be a possibility to achieve different levels and awards.
Group 3 addressed the issue of migration, in which they identified as a problem the existing barriers and possible conflicts between migrants and the majority society as well as their exclusion from social life. They also see as a problem insufficient awareness of migrants in the host country which is often resulting to racism and xenophobia. Following this, the group identified the goal, which is to strengthen the education of migrants in the form of learning about cultural differences, language, local customs, integration into society, conflict mitigation.
The group proposes the following:
- Providing a regular training course for migrants who are interested in working in the country for a long time. The course would end with an exam, the passing of which should be a condition for obtaining social benefits. According to them, progress in language skills will make it easier for migrants to succeed in the labor market as well as for their successful integration into society.
- Despite the costs associated with opening a course, this form of education can bring significant indirect economic and social benefits. By minimizing language barriers, an immigrant has a better chance of succeeding a passing a job interview.
- The course should be open especially to migrants from third countries outside the European Union who do not know the local culture or language.
Group 4 chose the topic of education, within which they decided to offer their perspective on solving an unpleasant situation in education. According to them, this sector faces several challenges and its extensive reform needs to take place. One such challenge is, for example, digitization but also the effective use of European funds.
They see the solution to the situation as follows:
- Simplifying the challenges of operational programs and more efficient handling of EU resources
- Providing a digital device to every family with compulsory school children (tablet, computer) does not have to be new, but functional
- Transfer responsibility for the result of education to the school / region, more competencies for teachers towards the development of methodology and curricula
- Compulsory teacher trainings in digitalization, media literacy or EU affairs
- To link the non-governmental sector more closely to the state education program to determine the results of education together
- Increase the salaries of teachers, social workers, field teachers
Group 5 has decided to address the topic of the EU in the world, where several issues arise. The overall image of the EU and its position as a strong and united international partner is also complemented by the way the EU addresses migration. The group sees the problem in the lack of information of the migrants themselves, but also of the citizens of the specific country to which they come to. They consider it necessary to point out that citizens do not have to be afraid of them, as they are the same people as us.
Based on the identified problem, the group proposes the following:
- When admitting immigrants to European countries and employing migrants from third countries, they proposed an approach based on the admission of mainly workers who come to do a specific work for a limited time and after this time will have to return to their countries of origin. Such programs are also used in countries like Singapore, USA, United Kingdom or Canada. Immigrants arriving in the countries would receive time-limited work visas and would have to leave the country when it expires.
- Compliance would be monitored by a special body.
Within each of the 18 National Civic Hackathons that took place within the project, three so-called EuroChangeMakers were identified. They will attend the European Civic Hackathon in July or August, where they will jointly summarize the outcomes of national debates and formulate them into the so-called White Paper, which will then be presented to European and national politicians. We are looking forward to the final outputs and we will keep you informed about project.