Building information society - new government campaign targets seniors

Have you been living with the same person for twenty years? Do you have a teenager at home? Then you have the ability to tackle life's most difficult challenges and managing a computer will be an easy task for you. That according to an advertisement from the Ministry for Information Technology, drawing people's attention to the latest round of courses within the National Programme for Computer Literacy.

From now on, people from all over the country can register for the second round of computer courses organised by the Ministry for Information Technology. There are three course levels on offer teaching people basic facts about computers, Word and Excel and internet skills.

To show their motivation, each attendant has to pay a symbolic fee of 100 crown, which is about 3 Euro; the state pays the rest. The project was launched last year and is primarily aimed at removing people's fear of computers. Klara Volna from the Ministry told me more.

"Our programme targets older generation. Last year, the majority of partakers were between forty and sixty years and women accounted for 60% of participants."

About 30,000 people attended the courses last year at 230 training centres all over the country. This man participated in one course.

"There were ten of us taking part in that course. Eight seniors just like me and only two young people. It surprised me, but most of them said they were attending the course for family reasons. They feel bad about not being able to advise their children or grandchildren on issues concerning the computer. They were not afraid of the internet, but of the computer as such. They were afraid to even push any keys, they were afraid the computer would explode like a jack-in-the box."

However there is a problem with the public tender for the organiser of the programme. One of the two companies selected by the Ministry for Information Technology filed a complaint with the Office for the Protection of Business Competition, and the dispute has received a great deal of attention in the Czech media. But according to Klara Volna, the dispute should be solved within a month at the latest. That means that courses will start in April.

Their are also several NGOs and other bodiesy which organise various types of computer courses for the general public. For example some public libraries offer internet courses for free.