The Ministry of Investment, Regional Development and Informatisation of the Slovak Republic (MIRRI SR), led by Vice-Premier Veronika Remišova, is launching a new support scheme for families with schoolchildren. Selected groups of primary and secondary school pupils will receive a one-off digital contribution of EUR 350 for the purchase of a laptop or keyboard tablet. The MIRRI SR and Digital Coalition joint project targets 152000 schoolchildren.
“I promised to make order in European funds and use them meaningfully for projects that will help people and Slovakia. We are delivering on promises. For the first time, European funds launch a unique support scheme for primary and secondary school pupils. Thanks to the new Digital Pupil project, up to 152000 schoolchildren will receive an allowance to buy the computing they need for their education. In the past, the money earmarked for digitisation by oligarchs went to overpriced IT projects, we from EU funds help families and we invest money in the skills and future of children in Slovakia,” said Veronika REMIŠOVÁ, Deputy Premier and Minister for Informatisation.
“Today’s children need to increasingly use digital devices in their teaching and domestic tasks – hybrid learning has become a very common part of their lives in recent years. But tens of thousands of schoolchildren do not have the corresponding digital skills, and many even a computer or laptop. This problem is confirmed by the results of Monitor 9 and IT Fitness Test, in which primary and secondary school pupils have worsened over the past two years, when they were largely dependent on online teaching. Digital skills are already a prerequisite for young people to be successful and find work after school, as working with computers and different programs is also required in the most common occupations. In the EU, 87 % of all workers use a computer at work. This is why we are coming up with the Digital Student project, which will allow pupils from poorer families to participate fully not only in teaching, but also in the everyday life of today’s digital era,” said REMIŠ, Minister for Informatisation.
The Ministry of Investment, in cooperation with the Digital Coalition – the National Coalition for Digital Skills and Occupations, is launching the national project ‘Digital Allowance for Slovak Students (Digital Student)’, under which selected groups of pupils will receive a one-off contribution of EUR 350 for the purchase of a laptop or tablet with a keyboard. This is a simple voucher scheme that will enable pupils to procure exactly the equipment best suited to their needs. In the words of Mário Lelovský, President of the Digital Coalition,
“Digital skills will soon become an essential part of our lives. 65 % of children studying in primary schools today after obtaining a higher education degree take up jobs that do not yet exist. The state of digital equipment within Slovakia varies fundamentally from one household to another. The availability of digital devices not only in school but also at home creates a prerequisite for better and digitally inclusive education that enables pupils to develop their full potential. The primary objective of the Digital Pupil project is to equalise start-ups, increase the availability of digital devices and promote equal access to education among pupils, regardless of their socio-economic background. Thanks to this support, pupils will also be able to study fully and from home, as well as to develop their digital skills and thus succeed in the digital era,”
The Digital Pupil contribution is intended for primary and secondary school pupils from socially weaker backgrounds and households not exceeding 60 % of the median income. According to the MIRRI SR analysis on digital poverty in Slovakia, low-income households with children are particularly vulnerable to lack of financing for the purchase of hardware or low level of digital skills.
All current first-time secondary schools are also entitled to the allowance. Current first-time students in secondary vocational schools and four-year-old secondary schools perform less well, as shown by the results of both Monitor 9 and IT Fitness Test. They are pupils who have been taught remotely for two years, which has been reflected both in their outcomes and in their digital skills. Therefore, all first-time secondary schools, regardless of their economic situation, were also among the pupils who can apply for a digital allowance. Students in vocational schools also mostly need a more powerful computer, which will also cope with more demanding special programmes and the digital contribution will therefore be a great help for them.
The results of the nationwide testing of pupils of the 9th year of primary schools and the 4th year of secondary schools and secondary schools with an eight-year educational programme showed a decline in pupils’ success rates. While in 2019 pupils tested had an average success rate of 63.1 % in mathematics, it was 53.2 % in 2022. The drop in success was also in Slovak language and literature – in 2019, the pupils tested had an average success rate of 62.3 %, compared to 59.1 % in 2022. The IT Fitness test also showed a drop in success among pupils in all ages – specific pupils’ performance was 14 percentage points worse in 2022 compared to 2019.
“A total of around 152000 primary and secondary school pupils can receive a digital contribution – so almost one in four secondary school pupils and one in five in primary schools will be able to become digital pupils. This is another help we bring to families and children in times of crisis. Under Slovakia’s former government, tens of millions of euros have been lost from EU funds for digitisation because of errors and fraud.
How can you contribute?
Students and their legal representatives will be informed about how to get a contribution through the Digital Coalition, which works with over 3500 schools from all over Slovakia on the project. All information on the project is available on the official website www.digitalnyziak.sk. Call centre staff on 02/32 28 44 66 are also available.
Contributions will start to be provided to pupils in the course of the year. The first will come to the first in secondary schools, who are expected to receive the contribution later this school year. The national project for a total value of EUR 65.4 million is financed by the Operational Programme Integrated Infrastructure from Priority Axis 7 Information Society, which is in charge of MIRRI SR and serves the digitisation of Slovakia.
“If Slovakia’s digital transformation is to be successful, it needs to be fair and its benefits must have equal access for all. Our courageous project aims to ensure that all pupils and students are prepared for digital times and can be successfully used for further studies or jobs. Together, we make a successful Slovakia, where people in all regions will have a good job and a European quality of life,” said Vice-premier REMIŠOVÁ.
Testimonials about the success of this project
President of SK8 and Trnava County Jozef Viskupič:
“The ambition of the counties is to continuously improve the quality of education in secondary schools, which are in our constitutive remit. This is also why we decided to support and promote the project of the Ministry of Investment, Regional Development and Informatisation of the Slovak Republic and the Digital Coalition. I believe it will, on the one hand, increase digitalisation, but above all create better learning conditions for all students without discrimination. Representatives of the Association of Self-Governing Regions SK8 will be fully involved in raising awareness and targeted awareness of this project in schools, which can take our education a step forward.”
President of the Association of Secondary Vocational Schools of the Slovak Republic, Felix Dömény:
“Digital pupil marks the start of a journey for better education. This is a great opportunity for all of us – for parents to equip their children with the necessary digital technology, for pupils to acquire the necessary digital skills and for schools to develop the full potential of all their pupils.”
Eva Horníková, President of the Association of Primary Schools of Slovakia:
“I see the national project Digital Allowance for Slovak Students (Digital Student) as a successful outcome of the negotiations with the Association of Primary Schools of Slovakia. Especially at a time when curricula changes are being prepared, it is important to ensure that all primary school pupils have access to information and communication technologies. In families where the parent cannot financially cover the costs of purchasing digital technologies, this project will contribute with financial assistance. I believe that this, albeit one-off, help will shift to better digital skills for our pupils, thus enabling them to take better advantage of the European labour market.”
Slovak Government Plenipotentiary for Roma communities Ján Hero:
“Digitalisation is a new pathway for pupils from marginalised Roma communities, opening them the gates of generational poverty. Working with digital technologies is a necessity today and I therefore believe that the digital contribution will be a means of helping to improve the level of education and employability of people from marginalised communities. This national project will also require cooperation between families, schools and the beneficiary of the national project in order to maximise the effective level of implementation.”
Find out more straight on the website of the Slovak National Coalition for Digital Skills & Jobs.
Source: Digital Coalition/Peter Brichta