Are Czechs computer literate?


Central European countries, including the Czech Republic, have gone through a computer revolution over the last decade. Whereas ten years ago a lot of offices still used typewriters, computers are nowadays not only in every office, but have become an important part of our lives in general. But to be able to take advantage of this brave new digital world, you need to know how. Are the Czechs able to use computers? What's the level of computer literacy in the Czech Republic?

The statistical research agency STEM/MARK recently carried out research into computer literacy in the Czech Republic. In their tests they focused on six different aspects of computer skills, varying from using the internet to knowing how to use computer terminology. According to the results, surprisingly only just over a quarter of Czechs can be considered computer literate. But the head of the STEM/MARK agency Jan Tucek says that the relatively low number of computer-literate people is a result of the tough criteria of the research.

"For us literacy does not only mean the ability to use computer, internet or other things. It means to use it in a sophisticated way - to know why I do this and that, what I need for a text processor, how big should a hard disk be ....A computer literate person is not just a writer or a secretary but a person who knows what and how he or she does."

On the other hand the researchers were surprised by the growing number of internet users in the Czech Republic.

"I think the most interesting number from this research is the internet penetration in the Czech Republic. The numbers we found out were higher than numbers from other researches such as the one done by the Czech Statistical Office or other smaller researches. There are 49 percent of Czechs - that is almost half of the population - using internet. We found out that people sometimes don't know that if they use e-mail it is also internet."

A new problem in the Czech Republic seems to be the so called "digital divide" - the large gap between highly qualified computer users and people who have never touched a keyboard. In order to help these people to learn at least the basic skills, the Ministry for Information Technology launched a special program to improve computer literacy in the Czech Republic two years ago.

Jana Vohralikova is from the ministry, and says what this means in practice.

"This is a program of basic computer knowledge that we want to spread among as many people in the Czech Republic as possible. It is not based so much on the quality of knowledge but it mainly aims to face the fear, misgiving or these sorts of feelings that many people have in connection with computers."