First Hungarian eInclusion Report and Action Plan

2008. október 22 · Kategória: Documents 

Inclusion in the Information Society – Now!

Quality of life, digital equal opportunity and social revival in Hungary

Status report, best practices and action plan

Introduction

There has never been an eInclusion, the information society inclusion report carried out in Hungary. This is the first report of scientific and documentary character in our country which analyses the issue if information society from the points of view of those who have failed to join it so far. In Hungary the development of the information society started with Sulinet, when thousands of members of different generations entered the modern world in an organized way. This so-called “ascending system” met the forms of the new technology, in which the information and social technologies gradually spread from the scientific-social and economic elite downwards in the society.

However, the development of the information society is not only a process of positive impact. While not everybody is a member of the net society, it can be stated that the tendencies of the information society affect everybody. In order to form a realistic image it is required to see more precisely the tendencies of the increasing social exclusion generated by the information and communication technology, all the more so because in Hungary the gap in the usage of IT devices has also been widening.

Hungarian civil organizations, libraries and cultural institutions acted first with due consistence in closing the digital gap. It was regrettable that even the Ministry of Informatics and Communications which became defunct last year could not change these new symptoms of the division. The European Union (and also the USA and several Asian governments) has been supporting the aspiration for nearly a decade that those who have remained stuck in the more disconsolate side of this gap should join the millions of Internet users on the other side. This is the reason why the year of eInclusion will take place in 2008, and the so-called Riga Declaration was accepted by 32 European leaders last year according to which the digital divide between the groups at risk of exclusion (the elderly, the unemployed, the disabled) and the majority of the society should be decreased by half. Further tasks are the expansion of broadband access – which is a fundamental tool to provide equal opportunities relating to the information society for the people living in backward regions – and the complete accessibility of governmental web pages – it is important primarily for the groups at risk of exclusion.

In our opinion, Hungary has been investing quite a lot of money (but perhaps not enough) in technical investments and developing networks but in fact it has spent negligible amount of money on opening up the possibilities and new prospects of the Internet for the disadvantageous groups of people who -owing to the new possibilities – would be able to change their lives and improve their quality of life. Investment in human capital has been missing again and again, from the New Development Plan as well so far, and the active participants, citizens, councils and individuals who are worried about the future and the passing generations cannot see the signs of strategic governmental actions which put the human in the centre and inspire better quality of life and active deeds. The life of an individual is not a marketability, social or health issue. Happiness, security or keeping personal relationships cannot be measured by returns and profit rates. But we do think that Hungary cannot give up the improvement of the quality of life of 3,000,000 people over 50 years who do not use the Net yet.

Informatics is a tool for the equal opportunity, but now we cannot see if it is a real part of our lives, the fundamental idea of the decision makers and the basis of governmental actions. Together with the leaders of the European Union we ask the Hungarian decision makers to leave the classical, decades-long attitude behind according to which disadvantageous situation is a question of health, social or employment issue. It is lot more and less than this: it is a question of quality of life. We presume that the general skill of Internet usage – which is recommended by civil organizations of informatics – would carry Hungary a step ahead. Active, thoughtful citizens would be integrated (in the information society), the market of informatics would be wider, and our citizens would become more well-informed, civilized and responsible.

During the years after the political transformation Hungary has not spent even the price of 300 meters of highway on the digital accessibility of the lives of disadvantageous people (the elderly, people living in the countryside, minorities, and the disabled). We would like to live in a modern, developing country. To strengthen this development more than half of the population cannot be abandoned. They should be a part of the modern and dynamic Hungary. Now!

Gabor Dombi – Szilard Molnar

2007, summer

Study download (Translated by Judit Farago)